Euro 2000 was the best European Championships for exciting attacking football.  After a gruelling qualifying campaign, and a few surprises in the group stages, the scene was set for the knock out phase. 


24 June 2000

In Amsterdam, Portugal were able to keep their 100% winning record up as Nuno Gomes scored twice to beat Turkey.  His first came a minute before half-time and his second just 10 minutes into the second period


Italy, like Portugal, had won all three group matches and they kept up their record by beating Romania.  Goals from Totti and Inzaghi put them 2-0 up by half-time and they were rarely threatened after that.

25 June 2000

There seemed to be a momentum about the Dutch now and they were thoroughly dominant against the Yugoslavs.  You certainly got goals when watching the Slavs in this tournament, 21 goals were scored in their 4 games.  Unfortunately, for them they only scored 8 of those.  Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick and Marc Overmars scored twice and the Yugoslavs contributing with an own goal.

SPAIN   1 – 2   FRANCE

In Bruges, Zidane gave France the lead in the 32nd minute.  But Spain hit back with a penalty 6 minutes later when Mendieta scored.  Right on half-time, Djorkaeff restored the lead for the French and they held that to the end.  The French machine continued to fire.


28 June 2000

UEFA continued with the golden goal format of extra time and it was in use in this match.  Nuno Gomes scored his 4th goal of the tournament when he put Portugal in front after 19 minutes.  They held that lead until 6 minutes into the second half when Thierry Henry equalised.  The game was level after 90 minutes and looked to be heading for penalties .  In essence it did, although it only needed one.  With 3 minutes to go to the end of extra time former Everton and Liverpool player, Abel Xavier handled a shot from Arsenal’s, Sylvain Wiltord.  France were awarded a penalty, Zidane stepped up, made no mistake and France were through to their second successive major international Final.  The game ended with the Portuguese getting too feisty cos they lost.

29 June 2000
Italy won 3-1 on penalties

Italy have had a tough relationship with European Championships.  They have done better in the World Cup, having only won the Euros once in 1968.  They were through to the Final for the first time since they won the trophy.  A goalless match ended with a shootout.  These two countries have two of the worst records for shootouts, and it showed with just as many kicks going in as not.  Bosvelt missed the key kick for Netherlands and they were out of a tournament having remained unbeaten in normal play



2 July 2000
Feyenoord Stadium, Rotterdam
FRANCE   2 – 1   ITALY

Italy had become many people’s favourites for the trophy.  Managed by Dino Zoff they had been playing some decent football without being outstanding.  They had gone about their business and calmly made their way to the final.  They were up against the current World Champions, France, who had been losing Semi-Finalists 4 years earlier.  Both sides created good chances to open the scoring, but was Italy who actually achieved it.  10 minutes into the second half and Totti’s cross was volleyed in from Delvecchio, for his first goal of the tournament.  France continued to push forward but it just looked as if the Italians were strong enough to repel them.  Into injury time and the Italians were camped deep in their own half, when Wiltord finally scored an equaliser to take the game into golden goal extra time.  As the first period of extra time was drawing to a close, Zidane’s cross from the left was thundered home by substitute David Trezeguet and France were the first country to win the European Championship as World Champions.  Surprisingly, Dino Zoff resigned as Italy manager, even though they’d come so close to winning the tournament.

ITALY: Toldo; Pessotto, Cannavaro, Nesta, Juliano, Maldini; Albertini, Di Biagio (Ambrosini); Fiore (Del Piero); Totti, Delvecchio (Montella)

FRANCE: Barthez; Thuram, Desailly, Blanc, Lizarazu (Pires); Vieira, Deschamps; Djorkaeff (Trezeguet), Zidane, Henry; Dugarry (Wiltord)


This was, in my view, the best European Championships for exciting attacking football.  From an English point of view, Euro ’96 was a memorable tournament, well supported and well organised.  But this one had the lot, terrific comebacks, high scoring games, penalty shootouts and golden goals.  Belgium were disappointing as a host nation, unlikely to have qualified if they hadn’t been.  Netherlands really thought this was their time, but their old nemesis, shootouts, caught up with them again.  France just seemed to have the golden touch (no pun intended) lead by Zidane.  Italy and Portugal played some good football and the Germans were utterly awful.



Check out the previous parts of this article on Euro 2000, about the qualifying campaign, and the group stages