Memorable Euro 2004 turns blue with surprise

5th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 July 2004 , LISBON - Euro 2004 kicked off and ended with a one-goal victory for Greece over Portugal, with the only argument being which was the more stunning surprise. In between, there was plenty of fine football and memorable moments. After the initial 2-1 upset by the Greeks over the hosts, all of the tournaments favourites should have considered themselves warned, but the group stage was marked by the elimination of former champions Spain, Russia, Italy and Germany. And, it was the first time in the

5 July 2004

LISBON - Euro 2004 kicked off and ended with a one-goal victory for Greece over Portugal, with the only argument being which was the more stunning surprise.

In between, there was plenty of fine football and memorable moments.

After the initial 2-1 upset by the Greeks over the hosts, all of the tournaments favourites should have considered themselves warned, but the group stage was marked by the elimination of former champions Spain, Russia, Italy and Germany.

And, it was the first time in the history of the tournament that the semi-final did not feature with the Germans, Spanish, Italians, French or English.

In Group A, Greece took their three points from Portugal before coming from behind to draw Spain and take an all-important fourth.

Even a defeat to Russia in their final match was not enough to eliminate the brave Greeks, but it did allow the hosts to sneak to the top of the table after they beat their Iberian neighbours for the first time ever in competition with a 1-0 scoreline.

France predictably claimed the corresponding spot in Group B, though they needed two injury-time Zinedine Zidane goals to defeat England in their opener 2-1, were held 2-2 by Croatia and got a late 3-1 over Switzerland.

The English, led by Wayne Rooney's four goals, went on to easily win their next two matches against Switzerland and Croatia.

England finished second in the group, which set them up to play Portugal in the quarter-finals, while France were happy to draw the more straightforward match against Greece.

There was very little straightforward in the opposite half of the draw, other than the Czech Republics run through Group D.

The emerging favourites managed to come from behind in all three group matches, beating Latvia 2-1, scoring three unanswered to defeat Holland 3-2 and then humiliating Germany 2-1 with a team of reserves.

After being fortunate to claim a 1-1 draw with the Germans thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy's van late wonder strike, the Dutch overcame the trauma of losing a two goal lead against the Czechs by brushing aside Latvia 3-0 to sneak a place in the knockout stage.

Group C ended up with Sweden, Denmark and Italy all on five points, and Bulgaria the only side to finish empty-handed in their Portuguese adventure.

Knowing that they needed to defeat the Bulgarians in their final contest, the Azzurri fought valiantly to claim a 2-1 victory at the death. But their hearts were broken as the groups two Scandinavian sides drew 2-2 in their final contest.

The Swedes and Danes thus both went into the last eight and were promptly eliminated by the two Group D teams, the Netherlands and Czech Republic respectively.

The Czech Republics Milan Baros netted a brace against Denmark to take his tournament-leading total to five goals, while the Dutch won their first ever penalty shootout to knock off dogged Sweden after 120 minutes of goalless action.

A penalty shootout was also all that separated the English and Portuguese in their famous Lisbon quarter-final after regular time ended 1-1 and the teams traded goals in the extra period. The Portuguese hero was goalkeeper Ricardo, who saved Darius Vassells spot-kick and then converted the winning one himself.

Greece, meanwhile, claimed the most startling upset of the event, and possibly in Euro history, when they eliminated fancied holders France 1-0 through Angelos Charisteas header.

That sent the unlikely Greeks, who had never before even won a European Championship or World Cup match, into the semi-finals where they faced another seemingly impossible task against the rampant Czechs.

Once again however, the Hellenic defence was the star of the next round, as they held the overwhelming favourites scoreless, and Traianos Dellas headed in a dramatic silver goal just seconds before the whistle in the first half of extra time.

With Portugal apparently a team of destiny and improving in every round -- they stymied Holland in the semi-final 2-1 - they had one last hurdle to overcome at their fabled Stadium of Light.

But, as had been the case throughout the finals, the determined and supremely well-organised Greeks were having none of it.

For the third straight knockout match, they managed a single goal and made it stand up. The winner in the final was had again by the head of Charisteas.

DPA

Subject: German news

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