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Do or die: The most memorable quarter-finals in Euro history

03 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Do or die: The most memorable quarter-finals in Euro history

We take a look back at some of the most memorable and iconic quarter finals in Euro history.

After some exciting clashes in the first round of knockout matches, the Euro 2024 round of 16 is now behind us. Looking ahead to the quarter-finals, teams face a tricky challenge, as they not only have to prepare tactically against increasingly stronger opposition, but also showcase their grit and fighting spirit once more.

Quarter-finals in football are like mini-dramas within a grand tournament, where heroes rise, hearts break, and legends are made. In the history of the tournament, there have been plenty of showdowns that have left fans on the edge of their seats. 

Here’s a look at some of the most epic quarter-finals we’ve seen at the Euros… 

1) EURO 2016: Wales’ fairytale triumph
Belgium, with a squad brimming full of talent, were touted as one of the favourites in 2016. After a rocky start against Italy, they found their form, progressing from their group before demolishing Hungary 4-0 in the round of 16. Wales, inspired by Gareth Bale, emerged victorious in their group and then defeated Northern Ireland to set up a mouth-watering tie against The Red Devils in the quarter finals.

Radja Nainggolan’s early strike for Belgium set the stage for their progression, but Wales’ motto “Together Stronger” proved more than just a slogan. Captain Ashley Williams equalised with a powerful header, before Hal Robson-Kanu’s sublime turn and finish gave Wales the lead. Sam Vokes sealed the deal with a late header, securing his side a 3-1 win and propelling Wales into the semi-finals, cementing their status as the Cinderella story of Euro 2016.

2) EURO 2004: England’s heartbreak
In a thrilling quarter-final against hosts Portugal, England took an early lead through Michael Owen’s brilliant flick. The match was a rollercoaster, with Hélder Postiga equalising late, and Sol Campbell’s disallowed goal adding to the drama. Extra time saw Rui Costa put Portugal ahead, but Frank Lampard levelled the score, sending the match to penalties.

The shootout was a tense affair, and in an unexpected twist, Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo scored the decisive penalty, eliminating England. This encounter was a prelude to another painful penalty exit for England against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals.

3) EURO 1996: Poborsky’s magic moment
Karel Poborský’s exquisite chip was the difference as Czech Republic overcame Portugal to reach the semi-finals in the 1996 edition. Despite Portugal’s midfield prowess, they struggled against a resolute Czech defence. The match was decided by Poborský’s brilliance in the 53rd minute, as he lifted the ball over advancing goalkeeper Vítor Baía.

The Czechs had to hold on after Radoslav Látal’s late dismissal. Goalkeeper Petr Kouba made crucial early saves, thwarting Fernando Couto and Sá Pinto. Portugal’s possession yielded little, and their best chance came when Jorge Cadete headed wide after Látal’s red card. The disciplined Czechs advanced to the last four, thanks to Poborský’s genius.

4) EURO 2008: Turkish resilience
Croatia dominated their quarter-final against Turkey, with Ivica Olić hitting the crossbar and Ivan Klasnić scoring in the final minute of extra time. However, Turkey’s never-say-die attitude shone through as Semih Şentürk equalised in stoppage time, forcing a penalty shootout. Turkey triumphed 3-1 in the shootout, with veteran goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber saving crucial penalties.

Though Turkey took the lead against Germany in the semi-finals, they fell victim to a last-minute goal, ending their remarkable run. Nevertheless, this quarter-final showcased Turkey’s indomitable spirit.

5) EURO 2016: Germany’s marathon victory
On 3rd July 2016, Germany faced Italy in a quarter-final that went the distance, ending in a dramatic penalty shootout. Mesut Özil gave Germany the lead before Italy equalised through a Leonardo Bonucci penalty. The shootout was a nerve-racking affair, with both teams missing several penalties.

Jonas Hector eventually scored the decisive penalty after Matteo Darmian’s miss, securing Germany’s first competitive victory over Italy. This gruelling encounter highlighted the resilience of both teams, with Germany advancing to face France in the semi-finals.