Three biggest shocks in the history of the UEFA European Championship
Switzerland’s victory over France on penalties in the round of 16 of UEFA Euro 2020 will go down as one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history.
Entering the tournament and round as outright favourites, France played out a six-goal thriller at the National Arena in Romania before being beaten 4-5 on penalties.
To everyone’s surprise, it was Switzerland who got the early breakthrough after Haris Seferovic beat Hugo Lloris with a sumptuous header to score the opener. The Swiss then missed a penalty in the second half, leaving the door open for a French comeback.
Le Bleus capitalised on the penalty miss by the Swiss and made a fantastic comeback, moving into a 3-1 lead through a Karim Benzema brace and a long-ranger by Paul Pogba. The Red Crosses, however, scored two goals in the final nine minutes of normal time to force the game into extra time and then penalties, where Kylian Mbappe missed his spot-kick as Switzerland booked their place in the quarter-finals.
Over the course of its long history, the competition has seen several such shocks like the Czech Republic beating Italy in Euro 1996 or Sweden beating England 2-1 in Euro 1992. On that note, we take a look at three of the biggest upsets in UEFA Euro.
Germany 0-2 Denmark - 1992 Euro final
Not much was expected from Denmark in Euro 1992 but they finished second in Group A with only one win in three games, which was a 2-1 victory over France. The Danes then had to rely on a penalty shootout win against the Netherlands in the semi-final.
Squaring off against the mighty Germans in the final, midfielder John Jensen broke the deadlock in the 18th minute before Kim Vilfort’s tame effort made it two 12 minutes from full time. Germany could only watch as Denmark defended their lead to lift the title.
The Red and White weren’t really contenders to even play in Euro 1992, as they had failed to qualify for the competition. Their participation only happened after war-torn Yugoslavia were disqualified and the rest as they say is history.
Portugal 0-1 Greece - 2004 Euro final
Being the host nation, Portugal were the favourites when they made it to the final of Euro 2004. Greece, on the other hand, were the underdogs as it was only their third appearance in a major tournament.
Greece’s way to the final included several upset wins, but nothing compares to their heroics in the final. They had beaten reigning champions France in the quarter-final, and got the better of Czech Republic in the semi-final.
Led by Luis Figo, Portugal had a superior team on paper, but it just wasn’t meant to be for them. The Portuguese attempted 16 shots on goal but only five of them were on target. Greece, on the other hand, scored with their only attempt on target.
The winning goal came a mere three minutes before the hour mark when Greece forward Angelos Charisteas rose highest to score the only goal of the match. The unthinkable then happened as the home crowd were silenced and the Greeks emerged triumphant.
England 1-2 Iceland - round of 16 Euro 2016
Iceland’s 2-1 win over England in the round of 16 of Euro 2016 has gone down as one of the most humiliating defeats for the Three Lions. Their then manager Roy Hodgson resigned minutes after the game as emotions poured in from both camps.
This victory for the Nordic minnows was an example of their sheer determination as they had to first overcome a Wayne Rooney goal before scoring the winner. Furthermore, the fact that Iceland were playing in their first major international tournament made that win all the more spectacular.
The first goal of the match came as early as the fourth minute when Wayne Rooney converted from the spot. A mere two minutes later, Iceland got right into the game through Ragnar Sigurdsson before Kolbeinn Sigthorsson capitalized on Joe Hart’s error to score the winner.
"They thought this would be a walk in the park," said goal-scorer Sigurdsson after the game.
Featured photo: AFP / Aris Messinis