WATCH: Five opening matches that lit up the Euros

Date published: Friday 10th June 2016 9:23

Angelos Basinas: Mobbed by teammates in 2004.

France may be favourites against Romania in the first game of Euro 2016. But as past editions have shown us, it does not always go according to script.

The hosts, who are featuring in the opening match for a record fourth time, kick off the competition at the Stade De France on Friday 10th June.

 And while Les Bleus have never lost a competitive fixture to the Romanians, history suggests the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.

Here are five epic opening matches at the European Championships…

5. West Germany 1-1 Italy (Euro 1988)

The 1986 World Cup finalists West Germany were made to sweat before succumbing to a draw in the opening match of Euro 1988.

Roberto Mancini was able to put the Italians ahead by making the most of a defensive error and squeezing in a shot after 52 minutes. The lead wouldn’t last long however as three minutes later, an Andreas Breheme free-kick drew West Germany level.

Both sides qualified from Group 1, but were eventually knocked out in the semi-finals by the Soviet Union and the Netherlands.

4. Belgium 2-1 Sweden (Euro 2000)

Co-hosts Belgium got Euro 2000 off to an explosive start – and set the tone for an exciting tournament – with an impressive victory over Sweden in Brussels.

 Thrilling strikes from Bart Goor and Emile Mpenza put the Belgians 2-0 up before Filipe de Wilde’s slip allowed the Swedes, who had captain Patrik Andersson sent-off, to pull one back.

Unfortunately that was as good as it ever got for Belgium as they exited the competition following losses to Italy and Turkey. 

3. Poland 1-1 Greece (Euro 2012)

Two sending-offs and a saved penalty were the highlights of a dramatic curtain-raiser between co-hosts Poland and Euro 2004 champions Greece in Warsaw. Poland led from a 17th-minute Robert Lewandowski goal before Greece, who had Sokratis Papastathopoulos dismissed, levelled through replacement Dimitris Salpingidis.

In a twist of fortune, home stopper Wojciech Szczęsny was red-carded but Giorgos Karagounis was denied by substitute keeper Przemysław Tytoń as the Poles clung on for a point.

 The co-hosts failed to progress from Group A though, while the Greeks upended Russia to reach the last eight.

2. Portugal 1-2 Greece (Euro 2004)

Greece definitely have to appear twice on the list as the Rank outsiders this time spoiled the party for hosts Portugal in the opening match of Euro 2004 as they shocked the pre-tournament favourites in Porto.

Goals from Giorgios Karagounis and Angelos Basinas prior to Cristano Ronaldo’s late consolation gave the Greeks a deserved victory in what was then their first win in a major competition.

Coincidently these two teams ended up meeting again in the final where Greece lightning struck twice as Angelos Charisteas scored the winner and crowned Greece winners of Euro 2004.

1. France 4-5 Yugoslavia (Euro 1960)

A nine goal thriller and one astonishing comeback tops the list and rightly so.

Hosts France were floored by an incredible comeback from Yugoslavia in the very first game of the first ever European Championships at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

 Les Bleus led 4-2 before three goals in five minutes completely turned the game on its head with Drazan Jerkovic scoring two goals in a minute!

To this day the game remains the highest-scoring match at the Euros and should give the 2016 hosts a timely reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in a tournament opener.


By Aron Hegarty (@AronHegarty)

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