European Championship History - 1996 England
The 1996 European Championship tournament was the 10th UEFA Euro competition and was hosted by England. It had been 30 years since England had hosted a major tournament, having hosted and lifted the World Cup in 1966. Despite some concerns about hooliganism, the tournament was deemed a successful one. The tournament had been expanded to feature 16 teams rather than the traditional 8. The tournament had the highest aggregate attendance in championship history as well as the highest average per game, despite many games not reaching a sell-out.
The hosts, England, started the group stages with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Alan Shearer's 23rd minute goal was cancelled out by a late penalty. England did go on to defeat rivals Scotland 2-0 in the following game before producing a spectacular performance in the 4-1 win over the Netherlands. A late goal from Patrick Kluivert ensured the Dutch would progress in second place behind England, by virtue of goal difference.
Group B saw France and Spain dominating the group in first and second place positions. Romania finished without any points and just one goal with Bulgaria finishing in third.
Group C and D threw up some surprising results, with two new nations, Czech Republic and Croatia qualifying for the knockout stages. The Czechs lost to Germany in the opening game but bounced back with a win over Italy and a draw with Russia. Top spot went to the Germans who picked up seven points.
Croatia finished in second place behind Portugal in Group D. Wins over Turkey and Denmark had put them on course to win the group, but a 3-0 loss to Portugal in the final group game saw them leapfrogged.
The quarter-finals at Euro 96 were famous for the negative tactics and defensive style of football on display. Only 9 goals were scored in the seven matches. England and Spain had drawn 0-0 in the opening quarter-final game, with England winning the tie after a penalty shoot-out. France and the Netherlands also played out a dull 0-0 draw with France winning the shoot-out 5-4.
Germany defeated Croatia 2-1 with goals coming from Klinsmann and Sammer, Davor Suker had earlier equalised for Croatia. The final quarter-final match saw The Czech Republic beat Portugal 1-0 with the only goal coming from Karel Poborsky.
The Semi-finals began with yet another 0-0. France and Czech Republic played out another 120 minutes of goalless football before the game was settled with a penalty shoot-out. The Czechs came out on top and progressed to the final with a 6-5 shoot-out victory.
The other semi-final also went to a shoot-out after Germany and England drew 1-1 at Wembley. England had taken the lead after Alan Shearer scored in the 3rd minute, Stefan Kuntz equalised shortly after. Unfortunately for England the fairytale final at Wembley was not going to be happening. Gareth Southgate missed the decisive penalty and Germany progressed to the final.
The final was played in front of 73,611 people at Wembley on 30th June 1996. Czech Republic and Germany scored a goal each in normal time, with the Czechs taking a 1-0 lead thanks to a Patrick Berger penalty. Germany equalised in teh 73rd minute through Oliver Bierhoff. The same man then scored again in the 95th minute of extra-time to give the Germans their third European Championship win.