Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA look back to Euro 96 - Mixed emotions for England (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A look back to Euro 96 - Mixed emotions for England (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A look back to Euro 96 – Mixed emotions for England (Video)

Euro 96 was a tournament that almost went the way that every England fan had dreamed of. Instead they ended up living the nightmare that  was the Germans and those dreaded penalties once again. 
En route to that eventful semi-final, Terry Venables team participated in two fabulous matches that rightly had the press declaring that Baddiel & Skinner’s prediction of 30 years of hurt coming to an end perhaps had some truth to it.

 The first of these matches was the ‘Battle of Britain’ against Scotland in a packed Wembley stadium. Alan Shearer gave the three lions a 1-0 lead with a 52nd minute header, before David Seaman did his part to protect the advantage by superbly saving Gary McAllister’s penalty. A moment of sheer class was then provided by Paul Gascoigne as he flicked the ball over Colin Hendry’s head with his left foot and then superbly volleyed in with his right foot past Andy Goram in the Scotland goal. The celebrations were intense both on and off the field after witnessing such a quality goal, but the team were about to play even better in their next group game.

The Netherlands possessed a very strong side and were one of the pre-tournament favourites. A line up including the likes of Van der Sar, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, Seedorf and Kluivert was expected to strongly test England, so it was a huge surprise when Shearer and Sheringham got two goals each to give the hosts a 4-0 lead. The Dutch did manage a consolation goal to qualify for the knockout round but the team in form was looking better than ever and fans across the country were starting to believe that they could go all the way.

England often used a 3-5-2 formation throughout the competition, which relied upon the versatility of players such as Darren Anderton, Steve McManaman, Stuart Pearce and Gary Neville. These four were the wide players in midfield and defence and needed to quickly develop an excellent understanding of positioning and teamwork so as not to be exposed down the wings. They played well defensively in the quarter final against Spain and the tight affair required penalties to separate the teams; Stuart Pearce showed both his courage and his passion by belting in his effort and then emotionally celebrating. They won the shootout 4-2 and were presented with a semi-final clash against Germany, who had not been troubled up to this point. 

The semi-final was full of chances and by the end of extra time it was deadlocked at 1-1. This time however the kicks from the spot were not quite so kind; Gareth Southgate’s effort was saved and that was the end of the road for England. The Germans lifted the trophy after beating Czech Republic with a golden goal from Oliver Bierhoff and it was a bitter sight to see the old enemy celebrating at Wembley. 

A great tournament with some lasting memories, although 30 years of hurt has now become 47 and we are still waiting to lift a trophy.

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