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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Euro 2000 - the rebirth of football
France celebrate victory in the Euro 2000 final
France celebrate victory in the Euro 2000 final
This summer's European Championship surpassed all expectations, with many hailing Euro 2000 as the best finals ever staged.

The quality of the football was certainly of the highest order and the atmosphere and vivid colour inside the grounds could scarcely have been better.

Predictably ugly scenes of violence managed to cast a shadow on the tournament - and England's participation - at one stage, but the game itself emerged as the true winner.

France, of course, landed the top prize, but there was a feeling from the very first match that Euro 2000 was going to prove more than a touch special for many reasons.

Fine style

Belgium kicked things off in fine style with a 2-1 win over Sweden, though both teams failed to make it to the quarter-finals from that group.
Belgium got off to a flying start
Belgium got off to a flying start

That honour went to Italy and first-time finalists Turkey.

Italy emerged 2-1 victors from their opening clash en route to qualification with a 100% record.

Turkey needed to raise their game if they were to progress following a dreadful 0-0 draw with Sweden - a game that stood in stark contrast with the rest of the action on offer elsewhere.

That they did and a 2-0 defeat of Belgium in the last group match saw the Turks go through - and one of the co-hosts leave their own party just as it was getting started.
Zenden fires in the winner against France
Zenden fires in the winner against France

Early form

Holland, the other nation staging Euro 2000, looked destined to join them if early form was anything to go by.

They needed a dubious late penalty to beat the Czech Republic 1-0 in their first game, but a 3-0 victory over Denmark got the Dutch campaign going.

France were more impressive in securing their passage from the same group, though both teams had already qualified before they came face to face in Amsterdam.

Perfect forerunner

It seemed to be the perfect forerunner for the final and Holland must have hoped so after twice coming from behind to beat the French 3-2.
Shearer's winner lifted England against Germany
Shearer's headed goal lifted England against Germany

England went into Euro 2000 with coach Kevin Keegan seemingly the only man touting them as possible winners.

Heads turned and eyebrows raised when they took a 2-0 lead over Portugal within 20 minutes of their first match, but the talented Portuguese responded well.

Luis Figo - one of the players of the tournament - started the comeback with a stunning 30-yard drive and Portugal eventually won 3-2.

Germany looked dreadful in their first fixture, though they held Romania 1-1 when defeat looked more likely, and much hinged on their clash with old rivals England.

Violence on the streets of Brussels and Charleroi dominated matters in the build-up to the match.
Spain delirious after beating Yugoslavia 4-3
Spain delirious after beating Yugoslavia 4-3

England were sadly accustomed to this turn of affairs. It seemed as inevitable as Germany knocking them out of a major tournament.

Tide of history

England had not beaten the Germans at any finals since 1966, but the tide of history turned in their favour as Alan Shearer's header proved enough to sneak victory.

That left England needing a draw from the last round of group matches against Romania and things looked promising as they took a 2-1 lead into half-time.

It all went wrong in the second half as Romania equalised and earned a penalty with just two minutes to go.

Ioan Viorel Ganea duly scored and Romania progressed along with Portugal, who thrashed Germany 3-0 to complete their humiliation.
Zidane's free-kick strike against Spain
Zidane's free-kick strike against Spain

Spain and Yugoslavia completed the quarter-finals line-up, though that stark statement hardly begins to tell the story.

Major scare

Yugoslavia had a major scare when newcomers Slovenia raced into a 3-0 lead in their opening clash, though they fought back to claim a point.

Yugoslavia then found themselves on the wrong end of a thrilling recovery against Spain in the decider though as they led 3-2 with the match going into injury time.

Spain, who needed victory to progress at the expense of Norway, looked down and out but two late goals turned the tide in their favour in a match some hailed as the best of all time.

Spain sensed this could be the tournament when they finally fulfilled their potential, but France were their opponents in the quarter-finals.
Kluivert hat-trick celebrations lost in a sea of orange
Kluivert hat-trick celebrations lost in a sea of orange

Great free-kick

The outstanding Zinedine Zidane sent France ahead with a great free-kick, though Spain levelled through Gaizka Mendieta.

Youri Djorkaeff restored the French lead before half-time and that was how it stayed until Spain were awarded a last-minute penalty.

Raul failed to convert though and Spanish hopes were dashed once again.

Neighbours Portugal also felt they were long overdue tournament success and a comfortable 2-0 victory over Turkey and that put them up against France.

Convincing winners

Italy looked convincing winners over Romania as they reached the semis, but their next opponents Holland sent a warning shot out to the whole of Europe with a 6-1 demolition of Yugoslavia.
Portuguese frustration shows in the semi-final
Portuguese frustration shows in the semi-final

Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick in that match and Holland seemed destined to go all the way with such firepower at their disposal.

Italy were determined to stop that happening and they held Holland well in a frustrating match for the Dutch.

They missed two penalties in normal time and three more when the match went to a shoot-out after extra time failed to reap a golden goal.

Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo was Italy's hero as his saved put them in the final at the expense of Holland.

Dutch fans in the sea of orange at the Amsterdam Arena dissolved in a flood of tears.
Toldo is mobbed after denying Holland in the semis
Toldo is mobbed after denying Holland in the semis

Highly distressed

There were highly distressed players as well as fans in the other semi-final.

France and Portugal played out a 1-1 draw in normal time, with a golden goal required to settle the score.

Time was running out when the referee's assistant flagged for a handball by Portugal's Abel Xavier and a penalty was awarded.

Portuguese frustration boiled over and they covered themselves in shame in angry protests that later earned them a massive Uefa fine.

Disputed penalty

French playmaker Zidane was charged with the responsibility of taking the disputed penalty that would prove decisive. He made no mistake.

France v Holland was the final most fans seemed to want, but France v Italy was the one they got.
Trezeguet blasts in the winner for France
Trezeguet blasts in the golden goal for France

Italy struck the first blow when Alessandro Delvecchio scored from close range.

That goal kept the sides apart for just about the rest of the match and France were clutching at straws by the time Sylvain Wiltord burst forward in what would surely be their last attack.

Extra-time

Wiltord's low drive evaded the despairing grasp of Toldo and extra-time was called for once again.

France made the most of their late reprieve when David Trezeguet blasted home the winner in the 103rd minute.

Jubilant scenes reminiscent of France's 1998 World Cup victory greeted the result - and celebrations were not simply confined to French supporters.

The goal typified the tournament as a whole - a dazzling spectacle with a glorious finish.

Officials, coaches, players and supporters can all look back at Euro 2000 as the time when football reached a new peak of excellence and set a standard that the World Cup of 2002 will do well to match.

Search BBC Euro 2000

 

See also:

02 Jul 00 | Euro2000
France win Euro 2000
30 Jun 00 | Holland
Dutch despair over penalty pain
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Zidane sends France through
17 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
England v Germany in pictures
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