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1980 European Championships

PhotobucketAfter tournaments where just four teams competed the ‘final’ section, UEFA decided to make something more of this competition and in 1980 opened it up to 8 qualifiers.  The other change was that they already decided the hosts in advance.  In previous tournaments they chose the hosts once they knew the four qualifiers.

Italy was chosen to host the 1980 tournament.  They had last hosted a major tournament in 1934, the 2nd World Cup, in which they came out as winners.

31 nations were then split into 7 groups; 3 groups of 5 and 4 groups of 4.  The qualifying campaign kicked off from May 1978.  Back in those days there was no such thing as an international calendar, and so some groups ended before others, as countries just arranged fixtures independently.

England had been drawn in Group 1 along with both Northern and Republic of Ireland.  Bulgaria and Denmark made up the other two.  The Republic started off by giving up a 3-1 lead to be held 3-3 in Copenhagen, before they met their neighbours in Dublin.  The much anticipated clash between North and South, the first time the two nations had met, contained few highlights and the game ended 0-0.

That same night in Copenhagen, Denmark and England played out a completely different match.  Denmark were regarded as one of Europe’s minnows, having never qualified for a major tournament before.  Kevin Keegan put England in front after 17 minutes.  6 minutes later he grabbed his 2nd, just before Allan Simonsen scored from the spot to put the home side back in it.  3 minutes later Frank Arnesen equalised and so the teams were level, 2-2 at half-time.  5 minutes after the break, Bob Latchford restored England’s lead.  With just 5 minutes left on the clock, Phil Neal then gave England their 2-goal advantage back, before Per Rontved ensured a nervy last few minutes for England as Denmark brought it back to 3-4.  England would eventually emerge with the victory, but it had been close.

England then drew in Dublin, as Northern Ireland beat both Denmark and Bulgaria, before they arrived at Wembley full of hope.  Manager Danny Blanchflower chose an Irish side exclusively drawn from the English First Division.  But England proved too strong and ran out 4-0 winners.  England went on to win their remaining group matches, conceding just once.  They won 3-0 in Sofia, beat Denmark, 1-0 at Wembley and went to Belfast and thumped Northern Ireland, 5-1.  When they beat Bulgaria, 2-0 at Wembley in November 1979 one of the goals came from a debutant named Glenn Hoddle.  England’s final group match was another 2-0 win, over the Republic in February 1980 as Kevin Keegan scored twice to take his tally to 7 in the qualifying matches.  His 2nd goal in that game is well worth looking up on youtube.  He picks the ball up just inside the Irish half, runs at the defence who are backing off.  As he reaches the edge of the area, he delicately chips the stranded keeper.

In Group 2, Scotland were disappointing, having been the only Home nation which qualified for the 1978 World Cup.  They won all but one of their home matches, losing 1-3 to Belgium, who ultimately won the group.

Spain won Group 3, and in Group 4 Netherlands were top.  That group looked competitive as it contained Netherlands (runners-up in the World Cup) and Poland (also made the Second Round in Argentina).  Netherlands conceded just 1 goal at home, which was scored by Poland, who also won the return match in Chorzow.  What did for the Poles was defeat in Leipzig against East Germany.  Poland held Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam, leaving the Dutch needing a draw Leipzig to go through.  However, the Germans were 2-0 up in the opening 30 minutes.  Franz Thijssen, Kees Kist and Willy van der Kerkhof eventually gave Netherlands a 3-2 win and they won the group.

A similar situation occurred in Group 5, as France beat Czechoslovakia, the holders, 2-1 in Paris to leave the Czechs needing to beat Luxembourg to go through.  The Czechs didn’t struggle as much as the Dutch did and ran out 4-0 winners, to win the group by a point.

Group 6 was really tight.  Finland began well by beating Greece, 3-0 and Hungary, 2-1.  USSR then also beat Greece, 2-0, but then lost themselves, 0-2 to Hungary.  Greece then got their revenge against Finland in Athens, thumping them 8-1, with Thomas Mavros grabbing a hat-trick.  Greece carried on this goalscoring spree by beating Hungary, 4-1.  Hungary had been in Argentina for the World Cup, but were now under pressure as they were then held at home by Greece.

By the time Greece took on USSR in September 1979, the four countries were separated by just 1 point.  Dimitrious Nikoludis scored the only goal of the game in the opening 10 minutes and Greece had gained the win that would ultimately take them to their first ever major tournament.  The four teams in the group were separated by just 2pts.

Wales began well in Group 7 with a 7-0 win over Malta.  Wrexham’s Ian Edwards scored 4 on his home ground.  Wales then beat Turkey, 1-0, as West Germany were surprisingly held, 0-0 in Malta.  6 weeks later and the Germans were also held, 0-0 in Turkey.  Then they arrived at Wrexham in May 1979.  Goals in each half from Herbert Zimmermann and Klaus Fischer gave the Germans a 2-0 win.  Wales bounced back with a win in Malta, but then in Cologne they were put to the sword by West Germany as they lost, 1-5.  Worse was to follow the next month as Wales lost in Turkey too.  West Germany then finished off the group with a 2-0 win over Turkey and then 8-0 over Malta.

Qualifiers
Italy, England, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Greece, West Germany

Grounds
Rome : Stadio Olimpico
Milan : Giuseppe Meazza
Naples : Stadio San Paolo
Turin : Stadio Comunale

The 8 nations were drawn into 2 groups of 4.  The winners would progress straight to the final with the 2nd placed sides competing in a Third Place Play-off.

GROUP A
West Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Czechoslovakia

GROUP B
Italy, England, Belgium, Spain

GROUP A

The tournament kicked off with a repeat of the 1976 Final as Czechoslovakia met West Germany in Rome.  A disappointing crowd of just over 11, 000 turned up to see the Germans gain revenge for 4 years ago as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored the only goal just before the hour.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA   0 – 1   WEST GERMANY

Later that evening, Netherlands took on Greece.  The Greeks were in their first ever major tournament having won a tight group to qualify.  Barely 4,000 more turned up for this game in Naples, but still only witnessed one goal.  Kees Kist converted a penalty midway through the second half and that was enough to give the Dutch the points.

NETHERLANDS   1 – 0  GREECE

Three days later saw the big clash between West Germany and Netherlands in Naples.  For two fierce rivals, the Dutch had only once beaten West Germany in 8 previous meetings, back in 1956.  Cologne’s Klaus Allofs, one of the young breed of footballers the Germans were trying out, opening the scoring after 20 minutes.  On the hour, he scored his 2nd, and then completed his hat-trick 5 minutes later.  The Dutch were stunned, but fought back with a Johnny Rep penalty 10 minutes from time.  When Willy van der Kerkhof scored to make it 2-3 with 5 minutes to go, the Germans had a nervous end to a game they were cruising.  They saw it home in the end, and seemed destined for the Final.

WEST GERMANY   3 – 2   NETHERLANDS

In Rome, Greece met Czechoslovakia.  In a stadium which holds 86,500, there were just under 5,000 people to witness this and the game deserved better.  Panenka, the hero in 1976, gave the Czechs an early lead, but Nikos Anastopoulos equalised soon after, only for Ladislav Vizek to put the Czechs back in front and we’d had 3 goals in the opening 25 minutes.  The Greeks couldn’t get back into it, and early in the second half, Zdenek Nehoda completed the win for the Czechs.  If Greece could pull off a shock win over the Germans, then the Czechs or the Dutch would have an outside chance of the Final, but that seemed remote.

GREECE   1 – 3   CZECHOSLOVAKIA

UEFA hadn’t found the need to have the final group matches kick off at the same time, so Netherlands and Czechoslovakia were up first in Milan, with the Germans waiting to see what they needed to do.  In front of another poor crowd Nehoda gave the Czechs an early lead, which they held till the hour, before Kees Kist equalised.  The game ended in a draw which suited neither side and the Czechs finished 2nd in the group, ahead of the Dutch on goal difference.

NETHERLANDS   1 – 1   CZECHOSLOVAKIA

By the time the last game in the group kicked off in Turin, West Germany already knew they’d reached the final.  It showed too as a dull game almost came to life when Ardizoglu hit the post with 20 minutes to go, but that was about it.  Greece had given a good account of themselves, but ultimately went home without a point.  The Germans had simply been clinical in reaching their 3rd successive European Championship Final.

GREECE   0 – 0   WEST GERMANY

Group A_1982

GROUP B

England had managed to qualify for a major tournament just once since 1962, having made the 1966 and 1970 World Cup as hosts and holders, respectively.  They were hopeful of doing well after an impressive qualification campaign.  They started brightly too, and midway through the first half, Brooking’s cross wasn’t cleared properly and it fell to Ray Wilkins, just outside the box.  He controlled the ball on his chest and then as it bounced, he calmly lobbed the ball over the keeper for probably his finest goal in an England shirt.

But England were unable to keep control of the game and Belgium equalised within 3 minutes through Jan Ceulemans.  England had a goal from Kenny Sansom disallowed in the second half, but the game will be remembered for the violence that erupted on the terraces just before half-time.  Unfortunately, this was becoming an all-too familiar occurrence with England games at that time.  Many England fans would point to the local police being heavy-handed, but unfortunately England fans reputation often preceeded them.  The game was held up as the police used tear-gas to try and quell the trouble, which had broken out because locals had gained access to England’s end and started chanting for Belgium.  England goalkeeper, Ray Clemence, was particularly affected by the gas.

BELGIUM   1 – 1   ENGLAND

Later that evening in Milan, the hosts made their bow in front of over 46,000.  The game was a cagey affair with both sides cancelling each other out.  Spain had a goal disallowed in the second half, which seemed harsh but the points were shared.

SPAIN   0 – 0   ITALY

After both opening matches were drawn, a win in the second game would give any of the 4 sides a good chance of making the final.  Belgium took the lead through right-back, Eric Gerets after 17 minutes.  With 10 minutes of the first half to go, Quini then equalised for the Spanish.  Both teams had chances in the second period, but it was veteran, Julien Cools, who scored the winner midway through the half.  Belgium now put the pressure on Italy.

BELGIUM   2 – 1   SPAIN

England and Italy took the field in Turin, in front of the largest crowd of the tournament.  England manager, Ron Greenwood sprung a surprise by selecting Garry Birtles for only his 2nd cap, and he struggled to make an impact.  England relied so heavily on Keegan, who was busy as usual creating chances.  Ray Kennedy hit the post, just before Marco Tardelli finally broke the deadlock with just over 10 minutes to go.  The Italians were far from dominant but knew how to defend a lead.  They would now need to beat Belgium to get to the Final.  England could only hope for 2nd place in the group.

ITALY   1 – 0   ENGLAND

After two games in Turin, England moved to Naples to meet Spain.  They were desperate to restore something from a tournament they were so confident of doing well in.  Trevor Brooking gave England a first half lead after 19 minutes, but early in the second half, Spain were awarded a penalty.  Their substitute, Dani, took it and scored.  5 minutes later they got another penalty.  Dani took it and again scored.  Only this time the referee ordered it to be re-taken.  Dani stuttered in his run-up and it wasn’t clear whether that was what the referee objected to, or whether other players had encroached.  Either way, Dani took it again and this time Clemence saved it.  Within 10 minutes, England were back in front through Tony Woodcock, and they got the win they finally craved.

ENGLAND   2 – 1   SPAIN

Italy and Belgium met in Rome, knowing a draw was enough for the Belgians.  The game followed a similar pattern to previous ones in this group involving these teams.  Belgium were dogged in defence and Italy were blunt in attack.  The game ended goalless and, against all the odds, Belgium had reached a major international Final.  Italy and Italians were distraught, as they expected more.  They were unbeaten but 2nd place to Belgium was almost the end for manager, Enzo Bearzot.  He survived, and Italy went on to lift the World Cup two years later.

ITALY   0 – 0   BELGIUM

Group B_1982

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF

Czechoslovakia had defended their title with distinction, and competed well against the hosts.  Under pressure for most of the game, they took the lead just into the second half through Ladislav Jurkemik.  Italy, who had only scored once in their 3 games so far, finally managed to get a goal from one of their attackers, Francesco Graziani.  The game ended 1-1 and went to penalties.  Remarkably, each side had been successful from their first 8 kicks.  Jozef Barmos, who had played in the Final in ’76, made it 9-8 to the Czechs before Fulvio Collovati had his kick saved and the Czechs had finished 3rd.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA   1 – 1   ITALY
Czechoslovakia won 9-8 on penalties

FINAL

West Germany were the overwhelming favourites.  They had reached tournament Finals in 4 out of the last 5 they competed in, but this was a new German side being put together.  This gave us our first glimpse of players like Bernd Schuster, Hans-Peter Briegel, and Toni Schumacher.  But their success came through an unlikely hero.  Horst Hrubesch was part of the Hamburg side beaten by Nottingham Forest in the European Cup Final a month before.  A striker who was considered good in the air, but nowhere else, Hrubesch opened the scoring after 10 minutes with his first goal in international football.  Belgium came back at the Germans in the second half when Van der Elst was brought down and Rene Vandereycken converted the kick.  As extra time approached, Hrubesch headed his 2nd goal of the game and the Germans had won it.  Their third successive European Championship Final had brought their second success.

WEST GERMANY   2 – 1   BELGIUM

1980

CONCLUSION

Had the new expanded format been a success?  The TV and stadium attendances would suggest not, but UEFA are hardly an organisation to often change their mind, and they continued with this format for the next 3 tournaments.  The format probably allowed an unfancied side like Belgium to go further than they might have done with just a Semi-Final and Final.  Italy, as hosts, were disappointing, as were the World Cup finalists from 1974 & 1978, Netherlands.  England gave us glimpses of their ability, but for a side so dominant in qualification, the finals had been a let-down.

A History of European Championships

PhotobucketRegarded as the international tournament, second only to the World Cup.  In Brazil and Argentina, they refer to it as ‘the World Cup without us’.

Delaunay
The idea for this type of competition was originally proposed back in 1927 by Henri Delaunay.  Delaunay was secretary-general of the French Football Federation, and was involved with Jules Rimet, in developing the idea for the World Cup.  Delaunay went on to become General Secretary of UEFA until his death in 1954.  Ironically, his dream of a European tournament didn’t become reality until 1958.  Just as the original World Cup trophy was named after Rimet, the trophy for the European Championships was named after Delaunay.

The first competition was called the European Nations Cup.  Only 17 nations entered, with countries such as West Germany, Italy and England declining to take part.  The format was simply a knock-out over 2 legs until the Semi-Finals.  When the final four teams were known, one of them was selected as a host and then Semi-Finals and Final matches were played over 5 days in July 1960.

The competition continued in this format right up to 1976.  From 1980, UEFA started to expand the tournament to include more teams for the finals.

PhotobucketRepublic of Ireland were involved in a Preliminary Round where they lost 2-4 to Czechoslovakia, after winning the 1st leg, 2-0.  In the First Round, France, who had finished third in the World Cup in 1958, thumped Greece, 7-1, with Juste Fontaine (top scorer in Sweden in ’58) and Raymond Kopa amongst the goals.  Spain beat Poland, 7-2 on aggregate with Di Stefano scoring 3.

After France had beaten Greece, 8-2, they then saw off Austria, 9-4 in the Quarter-Finals.  Fontaine grabbed a hat-trick in the 1st leg.  Yugoslavia overturned a 1-2 deficit to beat Portugal, 5-1.  Czechoslovakia were barely in trouble against Romania, as they won 5-0 over 2 legs.  There were only 3 ties in the Quarter-Finals as Spain refused to travel to Soviet Union and so withdrew from the tournament.

The four nations to compete the final stages of the tournament were USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and France.  France was selected as hosts.

6th July 1960 in Parc des Princes, Paris saw the first Semi-Final between France and Yugoslavia.  The two had met in the Group stages in Sweden ’58, with Yugoslavia winning 3-2.  The Yugoslavs took the lead in the 11th minute, but the French hit back a minute later.  France lead, 2-1 at the break and within 10 minutes of the re-start, they were 3-1 up.  Zanetic then got a goal back, before Heutte scored his 2nd of the game and France lead 4-2.  Into the last 15 minutes and the Yugoslavs remarkably hit back with 3 goals in 4 minutes, to progress to the final.  Two of the goals were scored by Drazan Jerkovic, who would go on to share the Golden Boot in the World Cup in 1962.

All of a sudden, the hosts were out and fears for the future of this type of tournament seemed valid.  USSR easily beat Czechoslovakia, 3-0 in the other Semi, in Marseille.  The Czechs won the Third Place Play-off, beating France, 2-0, a day before the first ever European Championship Final.

10th July 1960 was the date for the inaugural European Championship Final.  A disappointing crowd of just 17,966 at the Parc des Princes, witnessed a match decided after extra time.  Galic had given Yugoslavia the lead 2 minutes before half-time, which was then equalised by Metreveli, 4 minutes into the second period.  With 7 minutes of extra time remaining, Viktor Ponedelnik headed the winner for the USSR and they won 2-1.  It still remains the only major international championship won by either USSR or Russia.

Trivia fans might be interested to know the referee for the first final was one Arthur Ellis, who would later attract fame as referee on ‘It’s-a-Knockout’.

1960
10th July 1960, Paris
USSR  2-1  YUGOSLAVIA

PhotobucketThe second tournament saw an increase in the countries competing as 29 nations took part.  Austria, Luxembourg and USSR received a bye to the first round and Greece withdrew after they were drawn against Albania.

West Germany was still missing, but Italy and England decided to enter this time round.  England were up against France.  A 1-1 draw at Hillsborough, then saw England being given an exhibition in Paris when France romped home, 5-2.  An England team which included Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Charlton had been dumped out at the first hurdle.  Italy didn’t have any trouble with Turkey.  4 goals from Alberto Orlando helped them win 6-0 in the 1st leg, then a solitary goal was enough in the 2nd leg.

Northern Ireland beat Poland, 2-0 in both legs, but Wales lost, 2-4 to Hungary.  There was drama between Bulgaria and Portugal.  Portugal lost the 1st leg, 1-3, but were 3-0 up in the return with 6 minutes to go before Iliev grabbed a late goal for Bulgaria and the tie was levelled.  The replay was held in Rome, in front or barely 2,000 spectators, with Georgi Asparuhov scoring the only goal of the game to give Bulgaria the win with just 4 minutes to go.

The First Round saw Northern Ireland pull off a great result by holding Spain to a 1-1 draw in Bilbao.  Unfortunately, Gento grabbed the only goal of the game at Windsor Park and the Irish were out.  The shock of the round was when Luxembourg went to Rotterdam and beat the Dutch, 2-1.  This was enough to see them progress with, probably, the best result of their history.  Italy were then knocked out by the defending champions, USSR.

In the Quarter-Finals, Spain beat Republic of Ireland, 7-1 on aggregate, and USSR saw off Sweden, 4-2.  France were beaten at home by Hungary, 1-3 and then in front of over 70,000 spectators, the Hungarians finished the job off with a 2-1 win.  Luxembourg continued their excellent form with a 3-3 draw against Denmark.  Ole Madsen scored a hat-trick for the Danes and then grabbed another double in the 2nd leg, but a late goal from Schmit saw Luxembourg force a replay.  Madsen then scored again in the replay, which Denmark won 1-0.

The final tournament was held in Spain in June 1964.  In Madrid, Spain were taken to extra time by Hungary, before Armancio won it for the hosts.  In Barcelona, USSR won through to their 2nd successive final as they beat Denmark, 3-0.

Ironically, the final would be between Spain and USSR.  The irony was that four years earlier the Spanish refused to play their opponents on political grounds, but presumably because the final was held in their country, they ignored this minor detail.  Until their win in 2008, this remained Spain’s only major tournament success.

The Final was held in Madrid on 21st June 1964, in front of over 79,000 supporters.  The USSR contained just two survivors from their 1960 triumph.  Both teams scored in the opening 10 minutes, but the game seemed to heading for extra time before Spain won with a late goal from Marcelino Martinez in the last 6 minutes.

1964
21st June 1964, Madrid
SPAIN  2-1  USSR

PhotobucketThis was when the competition had a makeover.  Renamed the European Championships, it now consisted of a qualifying competition with 31 teams divided into 8 groups.  Each group winner then went into a knock-out stage.  Holders Spain, won their group, as did Bulgaria, USSR, Hungary and France.  Italy won a goal-laden group.  Italy, Romania and Switzerland all scored 53 goals between them.  Group 4 contained just 3 teams, West Germany, Yugoslavia and Albania.  Yugoslavia pulled off the first surprise by beating West Germany, 1-0 in Belgrade twelve months after the Germans were losing finalists in the ’66 World Cup.  West Germany then won the return, 3-1, and then travelled to Tirana in December 1967, needing a 1-0 win to progress.  They couldn’t do it, and remarkably Albania held their illustrious opponents to a 0-0 draw with Yugoslavia going through.  To date, Germany/West Germany has then qualified for the finals of every major tournament since.

Group 8 contained the home nations and the results were taken from the British Home International Championships of 1967 and 1968.  15th April 1967 is a date many Scottish fans remember as Scotland became the first side to beat the World Champions, England.  Dennis Law gave the Scots a first-half lead at Wembley.  Bobby Lennox then doubled it with 12 minutes to go, before Jackie Charlton got a goal back 6 minutes from time.  Jim McCalliog then scored Scotland’s 3rd and Geoff Hurst’s goal 2 minutes from the end was merely a consolation.  Scotland had been held in Cardiff and then lost 0-1 in Belfast, which ultimately cost them as England twice beat Wales and Northern Ireland.  This set things up for the big game at Hampden in February 1968.  Martin Peters 20 minute goal was then cancelled out by John Hughes (his only ever international goal) and the game ended 1-1 and England were through.

The Quarter-Finals were held around April and May and played over 2 legs.  Italy overturned a 2-3 deficit to beat Bulgaria, 4-3 on aggregate, and USSR came from 0-2 down in 1st leg to win 3-0 in return against Hungary.  France were held at home 1-1 by Yugoslavia, but then in Belgrade they were stuffed, 1-5.  England were up against Spain and a Bobby Charlton goal 6 minutes from time won the 1st leg at Wembley.  A month later in Madrid, Spain took the lead but then Martin Peters and Norman Hunter won it for England.

The finals were held in Italy and contained two nations (Italy and England) who weren’t interested in the competition when it first started in 1960.  The first Semi-Final in Naples was a 0-0 draw between Italy and USSR.  Neither side could be separated after 120 minutes of football and so the bright idea UEFA had to settle it all was, the toss a coin!  The Soviet captain called incorrectly and Italy were through to the final.  In Florence, the game between Yugoslavia and England looked to be heading for extra time before Dragan Dzajic scored a late winner and the World Champions were out.

Goals from Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst gave England a 2-0 win over USSR to claim third place.  The Final was played in front of 85,000 in Rome and Dzajic was on the scoresheet again giving Yugoslavia a first half lead.  Angelo Domenghini levelled things with just 10 minutes remaining.  The game ended 1-1 after extra time, and this time a replay was necessary.  Only 55,000 turned up two days later to see Italy carry off the trophy with a 2-0 win.

1968
8th June 1968, Rome
ITALY   1-1   YUGOSLAVIA

10th June 1968, Rome
ITALY   2-0   YUGOSLAVIA

PhotobucketThe Qualifying round had settled into the standard group phase, with 8 groups of 4.  As in previous qualifying phases, Eastern European teams came to the fore.  Hungary won their group containing France, and USSR won theirs containing Spain.  Yugoslavia beat Netherlands to Group 7, and holders Italy were unbeaten in theirs.  Belgium won Group 5, beating Scotland in the process, and Romania won Group 1, which contained Wales.  West Germany won Group 8 with Gerd Muller scoring 6 of their 10 goals.

England were in Group 3 with Switzerland, Greece and Malta.  They won the group, unbeaten, conceding just 3 goals.  England were quite a changed team from the one which reached the Quarter-Finals in the World Cup in Mexico 1970, illustrated by just 5 of their 15 goals being scored by players who were in the World Cup squad that year.

During the Quarter-Finals, Belgium pulled off a shock when they knocked-out the holders, Italy.  A 0-0 draw in Milan saw Belgium win 2-1 in Brussels.  USSR continued their tradition of good performances in this competition by beating Yugoslavia, 3-0 over 2 legs.  Hungary needed a replay to get past Romania.  1-1 in Budapest and then 2-2 in Bucharest, as the away goals rule didn’t apply.  Hungary won the replay, 2-1 in Belgrade.  The 4th tie was a repeat of the 1966 World Cup Final as England took on West Germany.  The Germans, still buoyant from having put out England in Mexico, scored first at Wembley through Uli Hoeness.  Into the final 15 minutes and Francis Lee equalised.  Then with 5 minutes left, Gunter Netzer converted a penalty and Gerd Muller finished things off and England had been beaten 1-3 at home.  Two weeks later in Berlin the game ended 0-0 and England were out.

From the four qualifiers, Belgium was announced as hosts.  The final competition was held between 14th June-18th June 1972.  The hosts, Belgium were up first against West Germany and Gerd Muller, in Antwerp.  ‘Der Bomber’ scored another 2 goals and the Germans prevailed 2-1.

The other Semi-Final, in Brussels saw Anatoli Konkov score the only goal of the game to see USSR beat Hungary, 1-0, and reach their 3rd final in the last 4 tournaments.  Belgium won the Third Place play-off, and then came the main event between West Germany and USSR.

The Germans were in a transition period, but were putting together a squad of players who would dominate European football for much of the decade.  9 of the players were drawn from just 2 clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.  Gerd Muller scored 2 more goals to take his tally to 11 for the competition, and West Germany won comfortably, 3-0.

1972
18th June 1972, Brussels
WEST GERMANY   3-0   USSR

PhotobucketThis would be the last tournament with just 4 teams in the final stages.  During the qualifying round, Yugoslavia beat Northern Ireland to win Group 3.  Spain beat Scotland to win Group 4, and USSR beat Republic of Ireland to win Group 6.  Belgium reached the Quarter-Finals again, by beating France to win Group 7.  Netherlands, runners-up in the 1974 World Cup, won their group beating Italy in the process.  World Champions, West Germany won Group 8 despite only winning 3 of their 6 matches.  In Group 2, Wales were drawn with Hungary, Austria and Luxembourg.  They lost their opening match, 1-2 in Vienna and then won the rest of them, conceding just a further 2 goals, and stormed to become group winners.  There were plenty of goals in this group, and all against Luxembourg, who conceded 28 goals in their 6 matches.  Tibor Nyilasi scored 5 when Hungary beat them 8-1.  Wales beat them 5-0 and Austria won 6-2.

England were drawn in Group 1 along with Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Cyprus.  Having failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, Don Revie had replaced Alf Ramsey.  England began well beating the Czechs, 3-0 at Wembley, but were then held at home to a 0-0 draw by Portugal.  In April 1975 they beat Cyprus, 5-0 when Newcastle United’s Malcolm MacDonald scored all 5.  Kevin Keegan scored the only goal of the game to win in Cyprus but then just when they were leading in Bratislava to a Mick Channon goal, the Czechs then hit back and won 2-1.  England couldn’t win in Lisbon either and they finished 2nd in the group to Czechoslovakia.

The Quarter-Final stage saw Czechoslovakia beat USSR, 4-2 on aggregate.  West Germany beat Spain, 3-1, and Wales were beaten by the same score by Yugoslavia.  Netherlands were up against neighbours, Belgium.  Rob Rensenbrink scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win for the Dutch in Rotterdam.  Johnny Rep and Johann Cruyff then scored in Brussels and Netherlands progressed 7-1.

From the four nations who qualified, Yugoslavia was named as hosts.  Czechoslovakia were up against Netherlands, including most of the side who were runners-up in the recent World Cup.  19 minutes in and Czech captain, Anton Ondrus opened the scoring.  This remained the only goal of the game until Ondrus scored again with 17 minutes to go.  Unfortunately for the Czechs, it was at the wrong end and the game went into extra time.  In the second period of extra time, Nehoda and Vesely completed a surprise 3-1 win for Czechoslovakia.

The next day, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia were 2-0 up inside the opening half-hour with goals from Popivoda and Dzajic.  Heinz Flohe then got a goal back midway through the 2nd half, before Dieter Muller (no relation to Gerd) forced extra time.  Muller then scored twice in extra time to complete his hat-trick and West Germany were through to their 3rd successive major Final.

Netherlands then won the Third Place Play-off, which again went to extra time.  The Final looked set for another major trophy for West Germany.  Jan Svehlik put the Czechs in front in the opening 10 minutes.  Karol Dobias then doubled the lead, before Dieter Muller got a goal back.  With a minute to go, Bernd Holzenbein grabbed a dramatic late equaliser for West Germany, to take the game into extra time.  The two sides couldn’t be separated and so, for the first time in international football, a major Final went to penalties.

The Czechs lead 4-3 as each kicker had been successful, before Uli Hoeness skied his kick over the bar.  Up stepped Antonin Panenka.  Score and his nation were European Champions, miss and the Germans were still in the game.  Panenka, who played his football for Bohemians Prague, calmly stepped up to the ball and as Sepp Maier dived to his left, he coolly chipped the ball into the middle of the goal.

This was the first time the watching football world had seen this type of penalty and it went down in history, mainly down to, not just the cheek of it, but the fact that Panenka, hitherto unknown, could commit such an act under such pressure.

Czechoslovakia were European Champions.  This was the last tournament under this 4-nation final stage, as the tournament was expanded to 8 countries for the next competition.

1976
20th June 1976, Belgrade
CZECHOSLOVAKIA   2-2   WEST GERMANY
Czechoslovakia won 5-3 on penalties.

For the rest of this series we will concentrate on each tournament seperately.  Next up is the 1980 Championships in Italy.

Here’s the goals !

7 mins: G – WALES 1 – 0 Switzerland, Ian Rush
7 mins: D – ROMANIA 1 – 0 Belarus
8 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 1 – 0 Russia
8 mins: H – PORTUGAL 1– 0 IcelandThat goal in Cardiff for Wales is good news for England as that means Montenegro will be happy with a draw tonight, although news from there is that Frank Lampard has gone off injured and Scott Parker comes on.

10 mins: D – ROMANIA 2 – 0 Belarus
10 mins: B – Andorra 0 –1 IRELAND, McGeady
10 mins: E – HOLLAND 1 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff
11 mins: A – BELGIUM 1 – 0 Kazakhstan
12 mins: C – SERBIA 1 – 0 Italy
13 mins: A – Turkey 0 – 1 GERMANY

That goal for Ireland really makes things very tight in Group B. Russia, Ireland and Slovakia are all on 19pts.

15 mins: H – PORTUGAL 2 – 0 Iceland
16 mins: A – Turkey 0 – 2 GERMANY
16 mins: G – WALES 2 – 0 Switzerland, Rush, Collison
18 mins: B – Andorra 0 – 2 IRELAND, McGeady, Hunt
18 mins: C – N.IRELAND 1 – 0 Estonia, Lafferty

Laffery has put N.Ireland in front, and as Serbia are winning, that could prove crucial

21 mins: E – HOLLAND 2 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (2)
21 mins: A – BELGIUM 2 – 0 Kazakhstan

24 mins: E – HOLLAND 3 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (3)

And we have news from Montenegro of a goal.

“and it’s gone to the home side, I’m afraid. It’s been all Montenegro as England has been camped in their own half, but have managed to keep them out so far. England had to clear a ball into the area and Vukcevic picked it up on the edge of the area, dribbled to the left and then hit a low shot into the opposite corner, past Hart. Montenegro 1, England 0”

26 mins: G – MONTENEGRO 1 – 0 England

Defeat for England would see them go into the play-offs rather than win the group. That’s the first goal Clough’s side has conceded under his reign.

28 mins: H – Cyprus 0 –1 DENMARK
30 mins: E – HOLLAND 4 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (4)
32 mins: D – FRANCE 1 – 0 Albania
33 mins: B – Slovakia 1 – 1 RUSSIA
34 mins: G – Wales 2 – 1 SWITZERLAND, Rush, Collison; Gavranovic

England are still unable to find a way past the Montenegran defence. Barry heads just wide froma corner and Matthews shot just wide when cutting in from the wing.

36 mins: E – Holland 4 – 1 MOLDOVA
37 mins: C – Serbia 1 – 1 ITALY
37 mins: H – CYPRUS 1 – 1 Denmark
38 mins: H – PORTUGAL 3 – 0 Iceland
38 mins: G – WALES 3 – 1 Switzerland, Rush (2), Collison; Gavranovic
38 mins: I – Czech Republic 0 – 1 SPAIN
40 mins: E – HOLLAND 5 – 1 Moldova, Cruyff (5)

Back to Pod Garica and news of a goal, who’s it gone to Kammy?

“unbelievable, Jeff. England have equalised. They’ve been awful in this first half, really up against it, but it was quick thinking from Matthews who intercepted a pass across the Montenegro defence and then squared it across the area. It went to Savic, who dwelled too long on the ball and Rooney slid in and got there first and it crept into the goal. They don’t deserve it, but it could be so, so important. Montenegro 1, England 1”

43 mins: G – Montenegro 1 – 1 ENGLAND, Vukcevic; Rooney
44 mins: H – Cyprus 1 – 2 DENMARK
45 mins: E – HOLLAND 6 – 1 Moldova, Cruyff (6)
45+1 mins: B – Andorra 0 –3 IRELAND, McGeady, Hunt, Wilson
45+2 mins: F – GREECE 1 – 0 Croatia
45+3 mins: E – FINLAND 1 – 0 Sweden

So that’s half-time in tonight’s matches. Let’s get a report from Chris Kamara out in Montenegro

“England are 1-1, Jeff, but they’re lucky to still be in the game. They’ll need to change things around, they’re defending much too deep and when they counter, there’s not enough support for Rooney. Having said that, this scoreline suits both countries, although Montenegro might feel they can take this. Ferdinand and Wright have looked a bit suspect, Johnson has been beaten too many times on the right. We’ve yet to see Gerrard take charge of the game, either. But I reckon Clough will get into them at the break and we’ll see a different side in the second half. Half-time, Montenegro 1, England 1”

Euro Championship Friday

Euro Championship Friday

Welcome to our special coverage of the penultimate round of matches in the qualifiers for the Euro Championships. Already we have Germany, Italy and Spain certain of competing in Poland & Ukraine next summer, tonight we should see several other countries join them. Will one of them be England?England are at the Pod Gorica Stadium in Montenegro, knowing that a draw is enough to win the group.

We should also see the likes of Holland and Greece join them, and possible France. There is a final round of fixtures on Tuesday when all the play-off contenders will be decided, and of course that could include Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

So, in Group A, the issue to be decided is who finishes Second, Turkey or Belgium.

Belgium v Kazakhstan
Turkey v Germany

Belgium may well move into 2nd place tonight, but they have to travel to Germany on Tuesday and Turkey are at home to Azerbaijan.

Group B, Russia could secure the group with a win in Slovakia. If that happens, then the play-off door is open to Ireland, who should win in Andorra.

Andorra v Ireland
Slovakia v Russia

Group C, Italy are already qualified, Northern Ireland could gain a play-off place with a win over Estonia tonight. If they lose, then they go to Rome on Tuesday needing to get something out of that game. Serbia are in with an outside chance of a play-off place, but will need to win tonight against Italy and on Tuesday against Slovenia

N.Ireland v Estonia
Serbia v Italy

Group D, France and Belarus are battling it out for the group win here, but France has a game in hand and so victory tonight over Albania should clinch things. Even a draw would be ok, but then they’d have to beat Bosnia on Tuesday

France v Albania
Romania v Belarus

Group E, Holland are in pole position in this group. A win over Moldova won’t confirm them as group winners, but will mean that Sweden need to win tonight and then overturn a 2-4 deficit in head-to-head matches on Tuesday. If Sweden slip up in Finland, Hungary could stand a chance of a play-off place

Finland v Sweden
Holland v Moldova

Group F, Greece just need a point tonight against Croatia, who themselves must win if their play-off hopes remain. If Croatia don’t win, then Israel should secure 2nd place.

Greece v Croatia

Group G, England’s group. A draw is good enough for England tonight, but Montenegro will be keen to keep Switzerland at bay. The two meet each other on Tuesday, so a draw for Montenegro will secure 2nd place, if the group win is beyond them

Montenegro v England
Wales v Switzerland

Group H, Portugal, Denmark and Norway all stand a chance of winning the group. Norway sits out tonights fixtures as Portugal are at home and Denmark away. It’s still not clear who will gain the advantage and this could go right to the wire

Cyprus v Denmark
Portugal v Iceland

Group I, Spain have walked this group, and even 2nd place may not get a play-off place, but Scotland will remain hopeful. They play in Liechtenstein tomorrow and the Czech Republic may only need a point tonight against Spain

Czech Republic v Spain

So, let’s have a look at the two line-ups in Pod Gorica. It looks like Clough has reverted to 4-5-1 with Rooney as the only attacker. Steven Gerrard comes into midfield for his first match under Clough. Ferdinand replaces Lescott in defence.

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We’ll have the goals right after the break

YOUNGSTERS STAKE THEIR CLAIM

 

In a few days time, England manager, Brian Clough has to sit down and decide his squad for the crucial Euro 2012 qualifying match in Montenegro.

Clough knows that England need just a point from that match to confirm themselves as winners of Group G. Does he go with the tried and tested, or does he start to look at some young players who are starting to press their claims for selection.

Players like, Steve Bloomer, the Derby striker who has been exciting the crowds at Pride Park. 4 goals in 10 games for the 19 year old. He also scored on his debut for the Under-21s when they won 2-1 in Czech Republic.

Tom Finney is another who is starting to get noticed. He scored for the Under-21s when they beat Lithuania 3-0 at Vicarage Road. He has made a good start for Preston scoring twice this season. Goalkeeper, Gordon Banks is another who has a rich future ahead of him. He’s made two Under-21 appearances, conceding just 1, and has also conceded just 7 times in 9 league appearances for Chesterfield.

It may well be too early for these young guns, but one player certain to be in Clough’s squad is Steven Gerrard who is now back to full fitness and putting in some strong appearances for Liverpool, who are now 2nd in the table, just 1pt behind Aston Villa.

Euro 2012 Update

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European Championship 2012 Qualifiers

The qualifying stages of the European Championships reaches its final month. Here’s look at each group to see who the qualifiers are likely to be

Group A

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Germany had this group sewn up long ago, but 2nd place looks interesting. Both Turkey and Belgium have to play Germany, and both are then at home to one of the bottom two nations. If both sides finish on the same number of points, then it’s the head-to-head results that seperates them. Turkey are ahead on that, having won 3-2 at home and then a 1-1 draw.

Group B

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Russia is in pole position to win this group, but Ireland may run them close. Ireland should win their final 2 matches, but unless Russia only gain 1 pt from their final two matches, then Ireland are likely to finish 2nd. Slovakia still has a chance of winning the group too. If they beat Russia and Macedonia, they have to hope that Ireland and Russia only draw their last matches.

Group C

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Italy has won the group, dropping just 2pts in their draw in Belfast. Northern Ireland has put themselves in with a great chance of 2nd place, with 3-0 win over Faroe Islands, 4-2 v Serbia and 5-1 against Estonia.

The Irish just need a win over Estonia to be certain of 2nd place, as they won’t want to rely on having to go to Rome to get a result

Group D

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This group has contained many surprises, but France should win the group, although Belarus will push them hard. Romania has been very disappointing, but Albania and Belarus have really impressed. Belarus 1-0 win in Paris in the opening game, was evidence of this.

France only need draws in their final matches to stay ahead of Belarus, as the head-to-head has France ahead at 2-1.

Group E

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Holland should have the upper hand here. A win at home to Moldova should give them the group win, although Sweden will give them competition. Sweden may need to win both their last matches, including a game at home to Holland. The first meeting between Holland and Sweden ended with a 4-1 win for Holland. Sweden will need to overturn that deficit if they’re to finish top. Defeat for Sweden in both matches, could let Hungary in. It’s 29 years since they qualified for a major championships, and this could represent their best chance since.

Group F

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Greece has been impressive in this group, dropping just 4pts. They’ve already clinched victory in the group, but 2nd place is still up for grabs. Israel has just an away trip to Malta to look forward to, which they should win. That means Croatia has to win both its final matches, one of them in Athens.

It would look like Israel will finish 2nd then, but everything could depend on the Greece v Croatia match.

Group G

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England need just a draw in Montenegro to confirm the group win. Defeat for England, would mean Montenegro could win the group with a draw in Switzerland. Mathematically, Switzerland could overhaul Montenegro. They need to win both their final matches, hope England beat Montenegro and then they need to beat Montenegro themselves by at least 2 goals.

Group H

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This is the closest of all 9 groups. Portugal, Denmark and Norway are all on 13pts. Norway are at a disadvantage win just 1 match left. The winner of the group could all depend on the final match in Copenhagen between Denmark and Portugal. Portugal won the first meeting in Lisbon, 3-1 so Denmark will need to beat that, unless Portugal slip up against Iceland.

Group I

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Spain has rarely looked in trouble at all in this group and have already confirmed qualification. Scotland has a chance of 2nd place, although that might not be enough for the play-offs. At the moment, Czech Republic are the lowest ranked of all 2nd placed nations. For Scotland to overtake the Czechs, they must win in Liechtenstein and then get something from their trip to Madrid. If Czech Republic lose in Lithuania, that could open the door for the Scots.

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England v Wales

Good evening and welcome to Wembley where we have coverage of England’s Euro Championship qualifier against Wales. England know that a draw will be good enough to guarantee a play-off place, yet they will really need a win to keep up their hopes up of a winning the group.

Montenegro sit out tonight, so England know that win keeps the pressure on.

After their 3-0 win in Bulgaria on Friday, Brian Clough has made just one change and that is to bring in Gary Lineker for Jimmy Greaves.

Joining me in the studio is Lee Dixon and John Toshack.

Lee the team news, would you have changed a winning team, or kept it as it was?

LD: I’d have left things as they were. England need to win the game and I thought Jimmy Greaves did ok, but I suppose Clough wants to see how Lineker would do when starting. Greaves had a go, so he may as well see what Lineker can do.

John, Wales took a bit of a hammering against Montenegro last Friday, do you think they can pick themselves up tonight.

JT: They need to. They’ve got no chance of qualifying but there are some good players on show and they’ll be keen to give a good account of themselves. I’m interested to see how Bellamy and Rush get on up front. I reckon this Ian Rush could be quite a player.

Ok, well here are the line-ups for tonight.

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Well, England were first out of the traps and really went at the Welsh. Rooney went close, and probably should’ve scored, Matthews was put through on the right, but the keeper saved, and then Billy Wright headed over from a corner.

This was all in the first 5 minutes and then Rooney was brought down in the area. Up stepped Frank Lampard and he made no mistake from the spot.

LD: Yes it was definitely a penalty, for me. Vaughan should’ve stayed on his feet and was a little rash in the challenge. Well taken penalty from Lampard, though.

JT: Erm, yes I think it was a penalty. He just needed to shepherd it out, but couldn’t resist sticking out a foot and he brought Rooney down.

Wales struggled to contain England as they kept piling forward and creating more chances. Lampard combined well with the front two and Matthews and Young were threatening down the wings.

But for all their chances, England were unable to make their dominance count and add to their lead.

In the second half, England carried on where they left off in the first period. Then just 4 minutes after the re-start, England doubled their lead and the game was over. Good move this and a great ball from Johnson

LD: Lovely ball in from Johnson and Rooney got there first. It was well delivered as the keeper wasn’t sure whether to try and come and meet it, before it bounced and Rooney had slipped his marker and was first to the ball.

JT: Shouldn’t have been allowed to get there, really, but the defence left it for the keeper and the keeper hesitated, and I’m afraid that was just what the Welsh didn’t need so soon after the break.

Clough then made three changes bringing on Charlton for Lampard, Phil Jones for Barry and Greaves to Lineker. They all made an impression but England weren’t able to add to their score

LD: Yeah, I thought Bobby Charlton looked really good. He created several chances and had a great effort where he tried to chip the keeper from the edge of the area, but unfortunately the ball went just wide.

JT: England were fully in control for the whole match. Hart hardly had anything to do, and I can’t recall him making a save. England were just too good right the way through the team, and then when the subs came on, they too added something to the performance. Fully deserved the win.

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Ok, well in the other game in Group G, Switzerland beat Bulgaria, 2-0. Here’s the group table

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England now know that a draw next month in Montenegro would be enough to see them win the group. Montenegro could, in theory, still win the group, but they would have to beat Switzerland by 8 goals to overhaul England.

In Group C, Northern Ireland had a great result in Estonia as they won 5-1. With Slovenia losing 0-1 in Italy, that puts them in with an excellent chance of the play-offs. If they beat Estonia next month, then they’re in the play-offs.

In Group I, Scotland produced another good performance as they beat Lithuania, 4-0. They’re 2pts behind Czech Republic, and need the Czechs to slip up somewhere. The Czechs are at home to Spain and away to Lithuania. Scotland travel to Liechtenstein and then Spain.

So England march on with another win, under Brian Clough. It’s now 3 wins from 3 matches and no goals conceded. A point next month should be enough to see them win the group.

The “Wright” Stuff

Good evening and welcome to our special coverage of the European Championship Qualifiers. We’re in Sofia where England are playing Bulgaria. This is an important game as England have already dropped points against Montenegro and Switzerland. Montenegro, themselves, are in action in Cardiff against Wales. England will be hoping Wales can do them a favour by taking points off them.

With me in the studio are Alan and Mark. Alan, this is a big game tonight for England isn’t it?

AH: Aye, it is. I mean, England really have to win here. You hope Wales could get something against Montenegro, but England can-nay rely on that.

Mark, are you expecting many changes tonight from the Dutch game?

ML: Erm, well obviously Terry is out, Ferdinand’s out and Scott Parker’s not here either, so there’ll be 3 changes at least.

Is Billy Wright able to step up to replace Ferdinand, do you think?

AH: Absolutely. When you talk about strength, character and nouse, this guy’s got it all. I think he’s the real deal, looks very calm and good on the ball. Doesn’t look like anything phases him.

And to partner him at the back, Mark, who would you go for.

ML: Erm, I think Lescott will get the nod. He’s put in some good performances already for Man City, so you feel he’s ideal to come in. For me, it’s just about whether he plays 1 up front again, or goes for 2. Then he needs to decide whether it will be Jimmy Greaves or Gary Lineker who partners Rooney.

Ok, then. Well we’ll get the teams in a minute, but some news on the England Under-20’s who have been in action in the U20’s World Cup Final against Spain, and I’m pleased to say that England are World Champions!

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A fantastic win there and that really is a great result that bodes well for the future.

Some good youngsters on show here too, and here are the two teams for tonights game

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AH: It’s as we thought, Wright and Lescott at the back and it looks like he’ll go for 2 wide players and Lampard playing just off the front two. They’ll need to be careful that Barry doesn’t get overrun in the middle, but it’s quite an attacking line-up

ML: Yeah, Greaves up alongside Rooney and it’ll be interesting to see how he does. I like the width that Young and Matthews should give and Lampard’s got an important role in behind the front two. England should have enough to win this.

Ok chaps, and it’s Frank Lampard who gets the captain’s armband, which will be a proud moment for him.

Let’s see what happened.

England struggled to gain control of the game and it was Bulgaria who put together most of the attacks although they rarely Joe Hart under any real pressure. Then in the 33rd minute, Lampard was in the area and was brought down and the ref pointed to the spot

AH: He put that away quite easily. Great responsibility on his shoulders and he gave England a vital lead, which was against the run of play a bit.

ML: Yeah, that was important as England, as you said, hadn’t struggled to look as cohesive as they had last month.

Well, as half-time approached, England had a free-kick on the left, which Frank Lampard took and Billy Wright found some space at the back post and headed his first goal for his country.

AH: Desperate defending. You cannah leave a player like that. I mean he had a free header and that just is poor play from the man who’s marking him

ML: Took his goal well, though. Just like Bobby Moore against Holland, Wright has popped up with a goal and I thought he played very well. Lampard involved again and the captaincy seemed to galvanise him.

So England went in at half-time 2-0 up and things were going according to plan. In Cardiff, Wales and Montenegro were goalless, so England would’ve been 2pts up on the Montenegrans at that point.

England then had control of the game and there really wasn’t much from the Bulgarians. 70 minutes in and it was all over

AH: Great header from Wright, but what was the defender doing? How can you let someone get above you like that? Disgraceful.

ML: Matthews took the corner and it was a good one, he picked out Wright and although he got above the defender, it was still a really good header to beat the keeper from there.

So, all in all a good win for England.

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3-0 is a good win in any game, but away from home in an important game, that was impressive.

But, Montenegro eased past Wales with a crucial 4-1 win. So both sides are locked on 14pts. England meet Wales at Wembley on Tuesday, while Montenegro don’t play. It’s another game England must win.

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Impressive performance, Alan, or is there work still to do?

AH: Oh, there’s still work to do. I mean they cannah think they’ve got the group won yet and the final game against Montenegro could prove the decider. It’s away, so that won’t be easy, but some really good points tonight and that’s what Clough will be pleased about.

ML: Yes, I mean England took their time to gain control of the game, but when they did, they kept Bulgaria at arms length. Wright and Lescott were really strong at the back and I thought they all worked really hard. Lampard certainly seemed to grow with the responsibility of captaincy. Good result and they did what was required. Need to do the same on Tuesday now.

Ok, well in other results tonight, a fantastic performance from Northern Ireland. They were at home to Serbia, went a goal down and then a young man called George Best scored a hat-trick and they won 4-2. They have a really good chance of a play-off place now, just 2pts behind Slovenia with a game in hand.

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Elsewhere, Holland bounced back from their defeat at Wembley last month with a 3-0 win over San Marino, when Johann Cruyff scored 2 goals. In the same group, Hungary beat Sweden 3-1 and Ferenc Puskas scored a hat-trick. In Group H, Portugal won 6-1 away to Cyprus as Eusebio scored a hat-trick.

So, we’ll see you again on Tuesday at Wembley as England take on Wales. But for tonight, Clough looks as if he’s found a defender who’s made of the ‘Wright’ stuff. Goodnight

Selection Headache For Clough

27th August 2011

Barely a month into the job and already Brian Clough is experiencing what so many of his predecessors had to put up with. Injuries.

He has now lost his first choice central defensive pairing of Ferdinand and Terry. Scott Parker took out of contention with a back injury and Steven Gerrard is still not fit. Jack Wilshere is also yet to appear this season as has Agbonlahor.

Clough may be glad he gave Bobby Moore and Billy Wright their first caps against the Dutch last month, as they could start in Sofia. Clough has brought in Joleon Lescott and Ryan Shawcross as well as Theo Walcott, who missed out from the squad chosen last month.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers
Robert Green (West Ham), 11 caps
Joe Hart (Man City), 12 caps
Scott Carson (Bursaspor, TUR), 3 caps

Defenders
Billy Wright (Wolves), 1 cap
Bobby Moore (West Ham), 1 cap, 1 goal
Micah Richards (Man City), 13 caps, 1 goal
Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 35 caps, 1 goal
Ashley Cole(Chelsea), 90 caps
Joleon Lescott (Man City), 13 caps
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), 0 caps
Leighton Baines (Everton), 5 caps

Midfield
Gareth Barry (Man City), 47 caps, 3 goals
Phil Jones (Man Utd), 1 cap
James Milner (Man City), 19 caps
Bobby Charlton (Man Utd), 1 cap
Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), 19 caps
Stanley Matthews (Stoke), 1 cap
Frank Lampard (Chelsea), 87 caps, 23 goals
Ashley Young (Man Utd), 16 caps, 2 goals

Strikers
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), 71 caps, 26 goals
Gary Lineker (Leicester), 1 cap
Jimmy Greaves (Chelsea), 1 cap
Theo Walcott (Arsenal), 17 caps, 3 goals

England travel to Sofia to play Bulgaria on 2nd September and then play host to Wales on 6th September.

The Big Match – Second Half

Welcome back, and so we go to the action and what a start for this young England side.
Within the opening 60 seconds, Lampard game England the lead.

AS: oh yes it was excellent. Matthews got down to the bye-line and crossed a dangerous looking ball, which the keeper flapped at. Lampard picked up the loose ball and hit a fierce shot past the keeper.

IW: Cracking start for England. Really pleased for Frank, he was first to that ball and finished brilliantly. But what a run from Matthews. The boy done good tonight, really pleased for him.

If that was impressive enough, within the first 15 minutes, England were 2 up! Bobby Moore getting a goal on his debut.

AS: Oh yes this was excellent. Don’t know what the Dutch defence was doing here, but they were caught asleep. Young’s corner and Moore was first there, great first touch and it was an easy finish.

IW: Yeah, Al’s right. Beautiful first touch and they just seemed to stand there, the defence, and Mooro just couldn’t miss. Cracking start and these geezers are the real deal, these Dutch, yet we was making them look 2nd rate. I mean, what was the bloke doing on the post? Just watched it go in

Yes and it wasn’t until just after the 15th minute that the Dutch mounted their first attack. Joe Hart flapped at a shot, but eventually claimed it. But the Dutch rarely threatened, which was surprising really.

AW: It was, but Gareth Barry was immense in the middle of the park. He bossed that game and he just gets better and better, for me.

IW: Matthews was a wizard on the wing too. I mean he’s only young but you wouldn’t know this was his debut, he ran them ragged.

Then to round off the first half, Barry got on the scoresheet.

AS: He was immense, for me, I mean he just bossed that first half. Really deserved his goal. But once again, you have to question the Dutch defence. Left him all alone.

IW: Al’s right, it was as if they had concrete boots and Barry just drifted to the back post and headed in. Triffic first half for England, but Holland just had a mare.

So England went in at half-time, 3-0 up and a dream start for the new manager.

For the Second half, it was all change for England.

Clough reverted to a 3-2-2-1-2 formation and brought on Billy Wright for Glen Johnson, Scott Parker for Rio Ferdinand, Jimmy Greaves for Wayne Rooney and Gary Linker for Frank Lampard.

This had Lineker and Greaves up front with Bobby Charlton just behind them.

AS: Yeah, England eased off a bit in the second half, for me. I mean they played well and were well in control but I think the formation they were playing needs some more work. I reckon Clough wanted to get 2 strikers in there, but had to change the way of playing to fit everyone in.

IW: Al’s right. It did tail off a bit, but come on, we’ve just beaten Holland 3-0. I mean, Holland? Dear, oh dear, we should be shouting this from the rooftops.

Midway through the half he brought on Richards for Bobby Moore and Phil Jones for Ashley Young. Jones winning his first cap, and Clough gave all the new boys their first appearance. How do think they did?

AS: Very well. I thought Matthews was brilliant. Charlton worked well in midfield, although he faded a bit towards the end.

IW: Greaves and Lineker were lively when they came on, and Jones seemed comfortable. Yeah, they all did really good. Things look promising after that.

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Ok, thanks, well we can hear from the England manager who’s won his first game.

Brian, you must be very pleased with that start, did it all go according to plan?

BC: Let me tell you, young man, that you’ve witnessed the start of an important period for English football. Those boys out there, were men against boys. You’ll go a long way before you see much better than that.

So, overall you’re pretty pleased. You made quite….

BC:…pretty pleased? Let me tell you, young man, you tell me who would’ve done a better job then?

Erm…

BC: …go on, tell me

Well, of course few could, but were you concerned with the 2nd half performance, not adding to the lead?

BC: Listen. We’ve just played one of the best sides in world football and made them look like the sort of side Don Revie used to put out. They’re a good side, but they were made to look very poor indeed.

You had Rooney up on his own to begin with, but changed to 2 strikers for the 2nd half. Which formation do you prefer

BC: I prefer any formation that works, young man, and you just worry about what you’re going to write about in the morning and let us worry about that out there. Listen, we play like that every week, we’ll top of the league. 2 European Cups I won, d’ya hear that?

Ok, Brian, well done on your win and see you next month.

So, England go to Bulgaria next month for another crucial Euro qualifier. If they play half as well as they did tonight, 3pts are in the bag.

Al, what are the positives tonight?

AS: well, where do you start? Everyone, right from the keeper, played their part. I mean, this is the no.1 ranked side in the world, and we’ve played them off the park. Excellent

IW: 10 out of 10, for me. Really impressed with all of them, they all did good. Can’t wait for next month

Ok. Thanks for watching and see you next month.

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