By Scott McGlynn
With Europe’s top footballing talent on show, you can always be sure of some tasty goals at the Euros.
So while we bite our nails in anticipation of the cracking action to come, we’re taking a look back at our top 5 European Championship goals.
5 – Davor Šuker (Croatia v Denmark, 1996)
Euro 96 saw Croatia make their first-ever appearance at a European Championship. And having been top scorer in qualifying, big things were expected of Sevilla striker Davor Šuker.
The six foot-tall future Arsenal star didn’t disappoint, scoring the opening goal against Denmark before sealing victory with an audacious chip over Peter Schmeichel who was undoubtedly one of the top keepers in the world at the time.
4 – Antonín Panenka (Czechoslovakia v West Germany, 1976)
Ok, so strictly speaking this wasn’t a ‘goal’ but with nothing to split this pair in the 1976 final, we were treated to the first-ever penalty shoot-out in a major tournament.
After Uli Hoeness had smashed West Germany’s fourth penalty over the bar, XXXX’s Antonín Panenka stepped forward and his moment of sublime magic saw Czechoslovakia win the tournament and gave birth to a new style of penalty that is still used by some of the biggest names in the game to this day – not always with the same success though.
3 – Maniche (Portugal v Netherlands, 2004)
Being the host nation, expectations were high for Portugal in 2004. And having edged out England in the quarter-finals, they then faced the Netherlands as they hunted down a spot in the final.
Cristiano Ronaldo put the Portuguese ahead but it was Maniche who stole the headlines after scoring an outrageous curling effort that proved to be the winner.
The Dutch switched off as they defended a corner, failing to pick up Xx-year-old XXXX forward Maniche and he made them pay by launching a rocket past the outstretched arm of keeper Edwin van der Sar.
2 – Paul Gascoigne (England v Scotland, 1996)
It was a home tournament for England in 1996 and to add even more spice, there was the little matter of facing Scotland at Wembley in the group stages.
Having only drawn 1-1 with Switzerland in their opening game, the pressure was on England to get the win over Scotland and Alan Shearer got them off and running before Gazza produced a moment of brilliance to double England’s lead.
After controlling Darren Anderton’s pass, the Rangers star proceeded to lift the ball over the head of defender Colin Hendry – leaving him on the deck – before smashing in a half volley past a helpless Andy Goram.
1 – Marco van Basten (Netherlands v Soviet Union, 1988)
AC Milan striker Van Basten was at the peak of his powers in 1988 and his five goals in the tournament ultimately helped the Netherlands lift the famous trophy.
Fittingly, victory in the final was sealed with the most memorable goal ever scored in the European Championships.
Arnold Muhren’s cross appeared to have forced van Basten too wide but he cooly stroked home an outrageous volley from what appeared to be an impossible angle to seal a Dutch win.