Greatest comebacks in EURO history

Fri 23 July 2021 | 13:30

We have witnessed some great comebacks at Euro tournaments, providing a captivating night of football. Read on to find out more about the greatest comebacks in EURO history.

Football is a very unpredictable sport. You can never claim to anticipate the result of a match, even if the 2 teams facing each other have a great difference in their levels, even if the score is 3 – 0 and we are in the 85th minute of the game.

This unpredictability is what makes football the most fascinating sport in the world for so many, and as it is the most popular one around the world. Sometimes it takes fewer than 60 second to score 2 goals and turn the game around, let alone the incredible things that can happen within 90 minutes.

There have been numerous times in the history of football when a team was sure of its victory during a game, but unexpectedly turn out to be the lost side at the end of the match. These "comebacks" can happen within a single match, as in a league game or a knockout game in a EURO or World Cup, as it might happen in a second leg fixture in a tournament's knockout stages such as the UEFA Champions League.

Comebacks are one of the pivotal elements of football's widespread charm. The probability of it happening gives hope to the hearts of the fans of the team which has fallen behind during a game, and every time it happens, it has a new taste, never gets old.

If you take a look at the list of each individual's most memorable games of their life, surely more than fifty percent of the games written in that list entail a comeback in them. This clearly states the importance of this phenomenon in the world of football, and for the football lovers.

However, accomplishing a comeback is not an easy task at all. It requires excellent resilience, having perfect stamina, and most importantly, mental preparation. Imagine an away game in which you have fallen behind with 2 goals and the opponent's fans are shouting and chanting. How difficult would that be to stand on your feet and turn the game around?

The greatest comebacks in European Championship history:

In this article, we are going to take a look at the greatest comebacks in EURO history. With EURO 2020 having ended recently, it gave us more options to include in the list. Continue reading to find out about

the 10 greatest comebacks in European football history


EURO 1960: Semi – Finals, France 4 – 5 Yugoslavia

The first among

top 10 greastest ever comebacks in Euro

 happened in the inaugural tournament in France in 1960. The match was held in Park Des Princes as 26,730 spectators came to watch the game.


had the lead with one goal at the end of the first half as the scoreboard showed 2 – 1. In the second half, Les Blues doubled their advantage and made the game 4 – 2 in their favor, with only 15 minutes left to the end of the game.

But, the unexpected happened for Yugoslavia: they scored 3 goals within 5 minutes and won the game. Tomislav Knez’s volley handed Yugoslavia a lifeline, before a quick-fire brace from Dražan Jerković completed their unlikely comeback. The match has been the highest-scoring match in the competition's history to this day with 9 goals.

Yugoslavia proceeded to the final match to face Soviet Union, but failed to achieve the title after a 2 – 1 defeat in the final match.

EURO 1976: Semi – Finals, Yugoslavia 2 – 4 West Germany (after extra time)

West Germany was the champion of EURO 1972 and 1974 World Cup, but they found themselves in hot water when they fell behind by 2 goals within half an hour against Yugoslavia. Having glorious legends such as

Franz Beckenbauer

, Sepp Maier, and Berti Vogts, West Germany could not see capitulation as an option.

The substitute player Heinz Flohe pulled on goal back, and then Helmut Schon – Germany's manager- revealed his secret weapon: the 22-year-old Dieter Muller who had never made an international appearance for his national team before.

His first touch in his international career leveled the game 2 – 2, and took it to the extra times. The wonder kid scored 2 more goals in the last 6 minutes of the extra times to make the game 4 – 2 and complete his hat-trick.

What a majestic international debut it was for the KOLN striker who had netted 14 goals within 19 Bundeliga appearances that year. However, West Germany lost the final match to Czechoslovakia, in a game Antonin Panenka scored the famous penalty.

Nevertheless, Muller's astonishing performance in that semi – final match will always remain one of the most memorable performances in the history of the tournament that made one of the

greatest comebacks in EURO history


EURO 1984: Semi – Finals, France 3 – 2 Portugal (after extra time)

The sheer drama at the semi – finals of EURO 1984 between France and


will never be forgotten by football lovers. The match left everyone- those in the Stadium and those behind their TVs- wondered: what on earth just happened?

“Portugal could be forgiven for feeling they are only there to make up the numbers,” wrote Steve Curry in his match preview in the Express, summing up the feelings toward the game among the press, as France's Michel Platini had scored seven goals in the three group stage wins against Denmark, Belgium, and Yugoslavia, and he was expected to confirm his place as an all-time great by lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament.

France had the lead by 1 goal until the 70th minute of the game, while Portugal's keeper had kept his team in the match, and that was when the fireworks started. The game finished leveled 1 – 1 in the 90 minutes, and fear was flowing in French people hearts, as they were the nation that had suffered extra-time despair in the 1982 World Cup semi-final against West Germany, and the thought of another defeat terrified them.

The nightmare was about to come true as Portugal scored their 2nd goal in the 98th minute, making nerves getting shredded even more. Within the last 6 minutes of the match was when the miracle took place: France scored the equalizer goal in the 114th minute by Domergue, and

Michel Platini

scored France's 3rd goal in the 119th minute, taking Les Blues to the final match.

France went on to win the final against


, with Platini scoring again. However, the semi – final match has been one of the best matches in the history of the European Championship, and indubitably one of the top 10 Greatest Comebacks in European Football History.

The following is Michel Platini's reaction to the majestic comeback, “Against Portugal [in the semi-finals] we should have been leading 2-0 or 3-0, but they made it 1-1 and then 2-1. We got into the last seven minutes of extra time and we had tremendous will to win; especially as Jean Tigana told us he had never won a penalty shoot-out!

We knew we had to avoid going to penalties! Tigana was the one who crossed the ball from the right at the end of the match and I was the one in the center who hit the ball into the net. That was an exciting game in Marseille and the crowd was wonderful.”

EURO 2000: Group Stage, Yugoslavia 3 – 3 Slovenia

EURO 2000 gave us 3 of the most memorable outstanding comebacks in the history of the tournament. The unforgettable Yugoslavi – Slovenia game in EURO 2000 is remembered as one of the craziest and greatest comebacks in EURO history, because the comeback occurred while Yugoslavia had one man fewer than their opponent!

Slovenia took the lead with 3 goals, and Yugoslavia's center back Siniša Mihajlović was sent off in the 60th minute of the game. The comeback did not seem a feasible action. However, this is football we are talking about: there are no impossibilities.

The way Yugoslavia turned the game over with being 3 goals behind and having 1 man fewer still baffles our minds, and the comeback happened within only 6 minutes! Milošević scored Yugoslavia's first hope-bringing goal in the 67th minute, followed by a 70th –minute second by Drulović, and the incredible comeback was accomplished in the 73rd minute as Milošević equalized with another tap in.

EURO 2000: Group Stage, Portugal 3 – 2 England

Portugal and England's first game in EURO 2000 turned out to be a special one as Portugal performed an astonishing comeback against The Three Lions.

Paul Schools and Steve MacManaman gave


a convincing 2 – 0 lead in the first 18 minutes of the game, but Portugal showed excellent resilience as Luis Figo and Joao Pinto had answered both goals by half time.

Rui Costa

's brilliant performance came in shining as he provided an astounding assists for Nuno Gomes in the 59th minute, and Portugal's comeback was completed. The game is undoubtedly one of the Top 10 Greatest Ever Comebacks in Euro.

EURO 2000: Group Stage, Yugoslavia 3 – 4 Spain

Another comeback from the EURO of comebacks, and once again, Yugoslavia is one side of the memorable match, but this time, the losing side. Spain started the tournament with a 1 – 0 defeat against Norway in the first round, and won their 2nd game against Slovenia, and they were chasing the 3 points against Yugoslavia to qualify for the next round as the first team of group C.

On the other side, Yugoslavia had performed the astonishing comeback against Slovenia in their first game in the tournament, beaten


in the 2nd game 1 – 0, and had the upper hand as they had 1 point more than Spain.

In the 31st minute of the game Yugoslavia scores they first goal, letting the nightmare of elimination for Spain fans come to appearance as Drulovic's cultured left foot curls in a perfect cross for that man again, Milosevic, who powers an unstoppable header under Canzaires from 10 yards out.

Only 8 minutes later, Spain responded with the equalizing goal which was scored by Alfonso. The game was on fire. Half time whistle was heard as the game was 1 – 1. The second half was when the real game happened as Yugoslavia scored their 2nd goal in the 51st minute by the substitute player Govedarica who had squandered a great opportunity earlier in the game.

However, their joy did not last more than 73 second when Pedro Munitis scored the team's 2nd goal. He was another substitute player who had just come on the pitch at the start of the second half. In minute 64, Yugoslavia's Jokanvic was sent off due his second bookable offence.

Spain was pressing high having 1 more player on the pitch and had the possession of the ball, but Yugoslavia was the team who scored the 3rd goal of the match in the 75th minute! Komljenovic, largely anonymous this half seeing as he hadn't managed to score/get booked/get sent off thus far, grabs his share of the limelight by punting the ball past Canizares after some Ping-Pong defensive work by this suspect Spanish defense.

Spain were losing a match to an opponent with 10 men, but they did not deal in capitulations. They created one of the greatest comebacks in EURO history. In minute 90 + 4, the referee pointed to the spot and Spain got a penalty which Gaizka Mendieta converted.

Only 1 minute later was when the comeback was accomplished, Alfonso Perez scored Spain's winning goal and completed his brace. Both teams qualified for the quarter finals at the end of the game which is referred to as one of the best games in the history of the European Championship, and one of the

greatest comebacks in EURO history


EURO 2004: Group Stage, Netherlands 2 – 3 Czech Republic

Czech Republic

had to get themselves out of hot water after falling behind by 2 goals in the first 19 minutes of the EURO 2004 group stage match.

Their notable comeback has been known as one of the greatest comebacks in EURO history, and one of the most team performances in the European Championship. The Netherlands seemed to have complete control over the game after taking the lead with 2 goals from Wilfred Bouma and Ruud van Nistelrooy within 19 minutes, but that was only the beginning of one of the best and most memorable encounters in EURO history.

Czech's Jan Koller responded rapidly with a goal in the 23rd minute, and the first half finished 2 – 1. However, in the 71st minute, Milan Baroš leveled the game. The Netherlands' John Heitings was sent off in minute 75, and Czech's hopes were stronger than ever.

In the 88th minute, Pavel Nedvěd rattled the bar before Vladimír Šmicer's close-range finish brought victor to the nation. The following is a couple of reactions to this majestic victory of Czech Republic: (from UEFA.COM)

Pavel Nedvěd, Czech midfielder, "It was a fantastic match and a fantastic evening. We deserved to win. We slept again at the beginning, as against Latvia, and coming from behind took a lot of energy. The Netherlands played offensively so the fans witnessed a great game. "

Milan Baroš, Czech forward, "We began too nervously and we were completely down after two goals. But it was a fantastic game in the end, the best one I have played yet. "

Karel Brückner, Czech coach: "The beginning was very bad as we made defensive mistakes. We conceded our first goal from a dead-ball situation for almost three years and I was forced to make changes. It was not so risky as our three-man defense worked well."

Dick Advocaat, Netherlands coach, "We deserved more than the result suggests. We had chances to increase our lead but we didn't and, at this level, if you don't take your opportunities you get punished. We now have to beat Latvia and I expect the Czechs to do their duty in their game and play the way they can play. "

Unheralded Latvia proved their opening-day near-miss was no fluke as they held three-time EURO winners Germany to a shock 0-0 draw. The gallant Baltic minnows withstood constant second-half pressure to earn a result that elicited a celebratory phone-call from Latvian Prime Minister, Indulis Emsis.

How Europe's press reacted, Blesk, Czech Republic, You are true champions, guys! This was much better than a Robbie Williams mega concert or Giorgio Armani fashion show. The torrential battle ended with a 3-2 victory, which means advancing to the quarter-finals in top spot"

Turkey's comeback had a major impact on the team and gave them great motivation that they managed to proceed to the semi – finals where they were narrowly edged out by Germany.

EURO 2008: Quarter Finals, Turkey 1 – 1 Croatia (Turkey won 3 – 1 in penalties)

For the second match in a row, Turkey's match got dramatic and entailed a comeback, this time, in a knockout stage game against Croatia.

The talented


which had eliminated England in qualifiers, and had proceeded to the quarter finals from a group containing Germany with 3 wins out of 3 games, and no fuss at all. All throughout the game, Croatia was the dominant side, having made lots of opportunities in the 90 minutes, such as Ivica Olic's shot which hit the cross bar.

The game was taken to the extra times, and Croatia's pressure was getting higher and higher. The game seemed to be over when Klasnic headed in Modric's cross in the 119th minute of the game.



was the team of comebacks, they returned to the game for the third consecutive match in the tournament: Semih Şentürk's shot kissed Croatia's net in minute 120 + 2, and the game was taken to the penalties where Turkey won 3 – 1.

The game has been one of the most dramatic games of in the history of the tournament, and one of the

greatest comebacks in EURO history

. Let’s read some reactions after the breathtaking match: (from UEFA.COM)

Fatih Terim, Turkey coach, "After Croatia scored, I saw players lying on the pitch and I told Arda to get the ball out of the goal and start again. I wasn't giving up. There is something special about this team."

Slaven Bilić, Croatia coach, "This is the third match Turkey have won in this extreme manner ... it is obvious that they have quality and the X factor which you need. The game had an incredible ending, the kind you can only find in football."

Kazım Kazım, Turkey winger, "We have enough morale and psychological strength to overcome this situation. In my opinion, Turkey's best weapon is belief."

EURO 2020: Round of 16, Switzerland 3 – 3 France (Switzerland won 5 – 4 in penalties)

And the last item on the list of the greatest comebacks in EURO history just happened in the most recent European Championship.

France entered the tournament as the World's Champion, and everyone had expected him to be at least in the semi – finals. However, things did not always go as expected. Early in the game Switzerland took the lead with Haris Seferovic's outstanding header in the 15th minute, and the first half ended 1 – 0 in favor of Swiss.

However, the second half was when all the fascinating stuff happened: as France hold the possession of the ball and was attacking, Switzerland received a penalty in the 55th minute of the game.

While everything seemed to be going on perfectly for Swiss, Hugo Lloris saved Ricardo Rodrigues's penalty, and started a drama. France equalized only 2 minutes later, and scored the 2nd goal in the 59th minute! Within only 4 minutes France had risen from their ruins.

Karim Benzema

scored both goals, and

Paul Pogba

scored a brilliant goal in the 75th minute with a beautiful curled shoot from a very long range. The score was 3 – 1, and France seemed to be sure of their place in the quarter finals, but they forgot this is football, and everything is possible in it.

With only 9 minutes to go, Switzerland refused to lie down and made performed a stunning comeback. Haris Seferovic scored another astonishing header in the 81st minute, and Mario Gavranovic scored the equalizer in the 90th minute from the edge of the box.

Before the 3rd goal, another


goal was ruled out due to offside, and after their 3rd goal, Kingsley Koman had the chance to win the game for France but his shot hit the bar, and failed to make this game even more dramatic.

The game was taken to the extra time, and despite a number of chances France had made, they failed to score and the winner was going to be determined in the penalties, where Mbappe missed France's 5th penalty and Switzerland eliminated Les Blues, the world champions!

Switzerland's Keeper, Yann Sommer, showed one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the tournament. The miracle happened, and that was one of the greatest comebacks in EURO history made by the Swiss boys.

The Guardian, England: Attack. Attack. Attack. This was football heaven for the purists and although it ended feeling like hell for the Dutch, when they recover they should acknowledge that they took part in an extraordinary game of football.

De Telegraaf, Netherlands, The Dutch had a dream start but a misplaced pass from

Phillip Cocu

and the inexplicable substitution [of Robben] by coach Dick Advocaat brought the Oranje down.

EURO 2008: Group Stage, Turkey 3 – 2 Czech Republic

Four years after our previous item in the list of greatest comebacks in EURO history, Czech Republic got engaged in another comeback, this time, as the losing side. The game was undoubtedly the most dramatic game of 2008 European Championship.

In the 3rd and last round of group stages Turkey met Czech Republic while both teams had completely similar situations: they both had lost to Portugal, and they both had beaten Switzerland, both had scored 2 goals and conceded 3.

With all that being said, the game was a decisive match for which team will qualify for the quarter finals. 32 minutes into the game, Jan Koller scored a powerful header for Czech Republic and gave the advantage to his team.

The game seemed to be over for Turkey as Jaroslav Plasil doubled Czech's advantage in the 62nd minute, but Turkey did not give in. Arda Turan's goal in the 75th minute brought back hope to Ftih Trim's boys.

The unbelievable happened within only 2 minutes, when Nihat scored the equalizer in the 87th minute- taking advantage of

Petr Cech

's mistake- and again Nihat scored Turkey's 3rd and winning goal 2 minutes later with an astonishing finish!

However, the drama was not over: Turkey's goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was sent off in minute 90 + 2, and since they had used all their substitutions, Tunacy – Turkey midfielder- had to stand in the goal for a couple of minutes before the referee's whistle announced Turkey's qualification for the quarter finals. The following is a number of reactions toward the game: (from UEFA.COM)

Nihat Kahveci, Turkey forward, "We were 2-0 down and we were playing very badly indeed. But in the end, the Turkish national team once again proved that the match lasts until the 90th minute. If we managed to win playing this badly, it means that there is no opponent that we can’t beat if we play well."

Fatih Terim, Turkey coach, "It wouldn't have mattered if we'd lost 2-0 or 4-0, so we had to go for it. Even when everyone else was settling for penalties after we pulled level, I was signaling for the team to try for a third goal."

Karel Brückner, Czech Republic coach, "Football is beautiful, not cruel. Painful defeats and great victories are all part of it. Football cannot exist without them. I am happy about that, because that is the source of the emotion in this game."




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