European Championship History - 2004 Portugal
The 12th European Championship tournament was hosted by Portugal for the first time, after the Portuguese had won the bid to host by beating rivals Spain and Austria-Hungary. The tournament started June 12th and ended on July 14th 2004. The tournament would provide one of the greatest shocks in International football history.
Group A began with a shock as outsiders Greece defeated the hosts, 2-1. Goals from Karagounis and Basinas had put the Greeks 2-0 up before Cristiano Ronaldo scored in injury time, but it was nothing more than a consolation. Greece then went on to draw with Spain and lose to Russia in their remaining two games. Portugal recovered from their opening-game defeat to beat both Spain and Russia and secure top spot. Greece and Spain finished with identical records but the Greeks went through by virtue of goals scored.
Holders France faced England in the opening game of Group B. The French came back from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 with both goals scored by Zinedine Zidane in the first and third minutes of injury time. England recovered from the disappointing loss with 3-0 and 4-2 wins over Switzerland and Croatia, thanks in part to 18-year-old striker Wayne Rooney. England qualified in second place, behind France who ended the group on seven points.
The main talking point in Group C was the three-way tie between Sweden, Denmark and Italy for top spot. All matches between the three sides had ended in draws and all three had beaten Bulgaria. It was Italy who were eventually eliminated by virtue of goals scored between the three sides following a 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden. The two Scandinavian countries progressed to the next stage of the tournament.
The Czech Republic were the only nation to finish the group stages with a perfect record. They had defeated Latvia, Germany and the Netherlands on their way to the quarters. It was a disappointing campaign for the usually reliable Germans, they failed to win a single game and finished with just two points. The Netherlands claimed the runner-up spot after a 3-0 win over Latvia.
The first quarter-final match was between England and Portugal. England had taken the lead after just two minutes after a neat finish by Michael Owen. Portugal's constant pressure resulted in an 83rd minute equaliser by Helder Postiga. A late goal by Sol Campbell was controversially ruled out by referee Urs Meier before the game was decided by a penalty shoot-out. It was yet another disappointing elimination for England who failed to end their disastrous penalty shoot-out record. Portugal won the shoot-out 6-5, with goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira providing the heroics.
The Greeks, meanwhile, continued to shock people after knocking out the holders, France. An Angelos Charisteas goal in the 65th minute was enough to take them through to the semi-finals and made the Greeks the first side ever to defeat the hosts and holders in the same tournament.
Sweden and the Netherlands played out an exciting 0-0 draw but neither could find a break through. The game resulted in another penalty shoot-out, with the Netherlands coming out victorious with a 5-4 win. The last quarter-final game saw Czech Republic dispose of Denmark with a 3-0 win, Milan Baros scoring twice.
Portugal faced the Netherlands in the first semi-final fixture. Ronaldo put the hosts ahead and their lead was doubled after a spectacular goal from Maniche. An own goal from Jorge Andrade gave the Netherlands a glimmer of hope half-way through the second half but the hosts held on to secure a 2-1 win and a place in the final.
In the other semi-final Greece, who had so far been the surprise package of the tournament, faced the Czech Republic. The Czechs dominated but the Greeks defended resolutely throughout and the game went to extra time. Shockingly Greek defender Traianos Dellas headed home the winner under silver goal rules to take Greece to the final of the European Championships.
The final was a repeat of the opening game of the tournament as hosts Portugal looked avenge their opening day defeat against Greece by beating them in the final. The odds were heavily stacked in favour of the Portuguese in front of 62,865 home fans at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. The Greeks defied their 80-1 odds from the start of the tournament to produce one of the greatest shocks in international football history. A 57th minute header from Angelos Charisteas was enough to secure an unbelievable 1-0 win for Greece. Portugal, despite their dominance could not break down the Greeks' defensive containment and were caught out. The Greek side were nicknamed 'The Pirates' in their home country and will be forever remembered for their heroic display that summer.