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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
West Germany 1988
Ruud Gullit led Holland to victory
Ruud Gullit led Holland to glory
Final result: Holland 2-0 USSR

Before this tournament everyone expected West Germany's name to be engraved on the trophy.

Not only did they possess one of the most star-studded sides in world football, but they were playing the tournament in their own back garden.

Franz Beckenbauer's team was littered with superstars such as Klinsmann, Kohler and Voller.

And after an unfortunate defeat in the World Cup final two years previously, it seemed almost inevitable that every European side would roll over when faced with the task of overcoming his powerful outfit.

Many believed West Germany's only genuine threat would come from a young and blossoming Italian side boasting Paolo Maldini, Riccardo Ferri, Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini.

Other contenders for the prestigious prize were a strong Soviet Union side and Bobby Robson's England, who had conceded just one goal on their way to qualifying and were spearheaded by the prolific Gary Lineker.

The last major tournament to be held in Germany was the 1974 World Cup, when the dark horses of Holland, galloped to the final thanks to the genius of Johan Cruyff.

And once again it was the men in orange who proved to be the party poopers.

Both the Dutch and the English got off to a terrible start when they were beaten by the USSR and Ireland respectively in Group 2.

Amazingly Marco van Basten did not start for the Dutch side but a lively appearance from the bench booked his place in the side for the England game, in which he grabbed a memorable hat-trick.

Lost every game in finals group stage
Qualifying Group 4: Eng 3-0 N Ire,
Eng 2-0 Yugoslavia,
N Ire 0-2 Eng, Turkey 0-0 Eng, Eng 8-0 Turkey,
Yugoslavia 1-4 Eng
Finals Group 2:
Eng 0-1 Rep Ire,
Holland 3-1 Eng, Eng 1-3 USSR

That effectively dashed any aspirations England had of progressing to the semi-final but Ireland's hopes were kept alive with a 1-1 draw with the Soviet Union in which Ronnie Whelan grabbed a crucial goal.

However, Jack Charlton's dream of guiding his Irish side to glory ended in tears when Holland beat them by a single goal from Wim Kieft.

In the other game, the steadily improving Soviet Union hammered the final nail in England's coffin with a 3-1 victory to book their place in the last four.

Like England's group, Group 1 was a frighteningly two-sided affair, with Italy and West Germany rampant.

Spain's only victory came in their first match with Denmark - who lost all of their matches.

But after that single flirtation with success, they were beaten by both West Germany and Italy who consequently advanced to the semi-final.

Van Basten (Holland) 5
Surprisingly, it was the sides from Group 2 who won through in two wonderful semi-finals.

Firstly, Holland stunned the West Germans with two late goals, from Ronald Koeman and Van Basten. Then the USSR saw off the threat of Italy thanks to second-half strikes from Sergiy Litovchenko and Oleg Protassov.

The final was essentially a re-match of one of the first group games.

This time Holland's class told and a header from one of the world's greatest players, Ruud Gullit, and a wonder goal from Van Basten proved too much for the Soviet Union.

1988 European Championship results
(Held in West Germany)

Group 1: Italy 1-1 W Germany, Spain 3-2 Denmark,
W Germany 2-0 Denmark, Italy 1-0 Spain,
W Germany 2-0 Spain, Italy 2-0 Denmark

Group 2: England 0-1 Rep of Ire, Soviet Union 1-0 Holland, Holland 3-1 England, Rep of Ire 1-1 Soviet Union,
England 1-3 Soviet Union, Rep of Ire 0-1 Holland

Holland 2-1 W Germany
Soviet Union 2-0 Italy

Holland 2-0 Soviet Union

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