As we start the count down to Euro 2012 begins, Goal.com brings to you some of the classic matches played throughout the tournament's history...
|Henrik Larsen 5'
Henrik Larsen 33'
In this edition of “Blast from Past” we look at the classic semi-final between reigning champions Netherlands and Denmark. The Danish National Team was included in the final tournament because group leaders Yugoslavia was expelled due to the Balkan War. The Danes went to Sweden with little preparation but yet had managed to reach the semifinals overcoming England and France in a tough group. Germany were the favourites for the tournament and so were the current holders Netherlands.
Denmark took only five minutes to get into the lead as a long ball across the field found Brian Laudrup and his pin point cross from the right was headed in at close range by Henrik Larsen. The Dutch were slow to react to the goal and probably were over-confident after their 3-1 win over Germany. However with stars such as Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman and Frank De Boer, the Dutch pushed for an equalizer and found the back of the net after a sweet attack from the right hand side. A delightful chip into the box was headed down by Rijkaard for Bergkamp who fired a low shot into the bottom corner from the top of the box.Instead of lying down, the Danes attacked with more intensity and got the lead again within ten minutes of the equalizer. A wonderful cross from the left found Vilfort’s run on the right. The Dane headed the ball towards the six yard box where Laudrup was waiting to head it towards the goal. Koeman was able to clear Laudrup’s weak header but the ball rolled into the path of the on rushing Henrik Larsen who doubled his tally with a powerful shot to the keeper’s right. Denmark were in the driving seat again and defended extremely well and hardly allowed the Dutch any shots on goal then on.
Ruud Gullit just couldn't get enough!
However all wasn’t over yet as Rijkaard leveled scores four minutes before full time. A corner for the Dutch was swung in from the right, Ruud Gullit ran towards the near post and flicked the ball, the Danes failed to clear their lines as the ball fell at the feet of Rijkaard who hammered his shot from close range. The game headed into extra time and a possibility of a penalty shootout loomed large. Who had predicted a mediocre Denmark team to hold off the champions? The Dutch contingent was full of star players but they were outplayed by a resilient Danish side.
During extra time, the Danes defended precariously but managed to hold off the opposition. They did need their star goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel to bail them out when Bryan Roy found space inside the box and had time to shoot at goal but the big Dane made an important save at point blank range and single handedly kept Denmark in the game! Extra time couldn’t separate the two teams and it was now the lottery of the penalty shootout what was going to decide which team will be in the final.
Schmeichel turned show-stopper
The game was won by the Danes as they trumped Netherlands 5-4 in the shootout. Koeman, Bergkamp, Rijkaard and Witschge scored from the spot but Peter Schmeichel saved Marco van Basten’s penalty by diving to his left. For Denmark, Larsen, Povlsen, Elstrup, Vilfort and Christofe all held their nerve while facing van Breukelen. The Dutch goalkeeper did manage to get a hand on Larsen’s shot but the ball crept into the left corner.
Denmark’s heroics in the tournament didn’t go unrewarded as they beat Germany 2-0 in the final and lifted the European Championship Cup for the first and only time in their history. Peter Schmeichel was an outstanding performer for the team as well as Henrik Larsen who finished as joint top scorer at the tournament.
Download the Goal.com Mobile app, and the world of football will be at your fingertips and in your pocket!