Biggest shocks in EURO history

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The Czech Republic’s 2-0 victory over the previously fancied Netherlands provided perhaps the biggest surprise of UEFA EURO 2020 so far, but was it a bona fide shock?

We look back at some of the most eyebrow-raising results in the competition’s history and discover that the unbelievable comes true regularly at the UEFA European Championship finals.

Championship Finals at StuttgartChampionship Finals at Stuttgart

Ireland defeated England in 1988 / Independent News and Media/Getty Images

“I don’t think anybody in Ireland gave us a prayer,” said Ray Houghton as he looked back on his nation’s finals debut, which did not go by the form book. Houghton headed Jack Charlton’s side into a sixth-minute lead, and they survived an England barrage thereafter thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Pat Bonner.

“That goal is always shown in Sweden and everywhere I go people ask me about it,” said Thomas Brolin, reflecting on the strike that sent England home in 1992. England led after four minutes but the finals hosts kept believing, Brolin’s 82nd-minute finish the coup de grace after Jan Eriksson had equalised.

UEFA Euro '92 FINAL - Denmark v GermanyUEFA Euro '92 FINAL - Denmark v Germany

Could Denmark repeat their 1992 heroics this year? / Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Denmark did not qualify for EURO ’92 and were drafted in just two weeks before it kicked off when Yugoslavia withdrew; a month later they were European champions, John Jensen and Kim Vilfort scoring in the final to complete their improbable journey. “We couldn’t fail because there were no expectations,” Vilfort said.

Defeated by Germany in their opener, the Czechs’ fortunes turned in their second game. Enrico Chiesa cancelled out Pavel Nedvěd’s early opener, but Luigi Apollini’s dismissal and Radek Bejbl’s finish set them on course for the final. “Many, many things happened, and I enjoyed them all,” recalled Karel Poborskyý.

Maris Verpakovskis, Frank BaumannMaris Verpakovskis, Frank Baumann

Latvia held Germany at Euro 2004 / Ben Radford/Getty Images

Latvia lost 2-1 to the Czechs on their EURO debut but rallied to hold Germany, and even came close to an astonishing victory when Māris Verpakovskis raced clear moments before half-time. Coach Aleksandrs Starkovs called it a “historic result”, adding with pride: “We proved the strength of our team spirit.”

“The opponent was technically better than us, but we took advantage of our chances,” said Otto Rehhagel after his side had silenced the home crowd in Lisbon. Angelos Charisteas’ header was enough to defeat the overwhelming favourites – who included a young Cristiano Ronaldo. “The Greeks made football history today,” added ‘Rehhakles’.

Iceland v England - Euro 2016Iceland v England - Euro 2016

Iceland produced a stunning upset in 2016 / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It took Ragnar Sigurdsson fewer than 120 seconds to cancel out Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson’s first-half finish and a measured second-half display earning the debutants a miraculous win. “They thought this would be a walk in the park,” said goalscorer Sigurdsson. How wrong England were.

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