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Top 10 European Championship Qualification Shocks

Top 10 European Championship Qualification Shocks

In the wake of France's shock 1-0 home loss to Belarus on Friday,'s Subhankar Mondal looks at the top 10 shock Euro qualification defeats...

Cyprus 1-1 Italy (1983)

Italy came into the Euro '84 qualifying campaign as world champions but suffered a shock 1-1 draw in Cyprus on February 12, 1983. In fact, the Azzurri were behind to a Christos Omirou goal at the start of the second half but two minutes before the hour mark Francesco Graziani equalised to spare the blushes for Italy, who ultimately failed to qualify for the finals.

Norway 2-1 Italy (1991)

5 June 1991 - the day when footballing giants Italy went down 2-1 in Norway. The Azzurri had reached the semi-finals of the World Cup a year earlier and had some of the finest players on the planet at the time. However, goals from Lars Bohinen and Tore Andre Dahlum consigned la Nazionale to a humiliating defeat. Italy finished second in that group behind the Soviet Union and failed to qualify for the 1992 European Championships.

Wales 1-0 Germany (1991)

Germany entered the Euro '92 qualifiers as world champions and were expected to cruise to the finals. However, a certain Ian Rush had some other ideas on June 5, 1991 as he netted the only goal of the match in the 66th minute at the Cardiff Arms Park stadium. However, the Red Dragons couldn't qualify for the finals but Germany did.

Belarus 1-0 Holland (1995)

Belarus shocked France 1-0 on Friday but this was not the first time that they had rocked the footballing planet. On June 7, 1995 they defeated the might Netherlands 1-0 at home. Of course, Belarus couldn't qualify for Euro '96 but the Dutch did, yet that shouldn't take the gloss off what remains one of the most memorable wins in the nation's history.

Cyprus 3-2 Spain (1998)

Spain might be the reigning European and world champions at the moment but 'back in the day' la Furia Roja were struggling. Spain eventually reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2000 but two years earlier they had suffered a humiliating defeat. In their opening game of the qualification campaign on September 5, 1998 Cyprus defeat them 3-2 at home. The match also led to the departure of Javier Clemente from the Spain coaching role.

Iceland 1-0 Russia (1998)

Neither Russia nor Iceland could qualify for the Euro 2000 finals but the latter accomplished a great feat by defeating the former 1-0 at home in the qualifiers. They had held then world champions and eventual European champions France 1-1 at home in their opening game of the qualifiers and on October 14, 1998 got the better of Russia. Not a bad result for a nation as small as Iceland in terms of population. Furthermore, in 1991 Iceland had beaten Spain 2-0 in a Euro '92 qualifier.

Albania 3-1 Russia, Georgia 1-0 Russia (2003)

Russia made it through to the group stage of Euro 2004 but they almost didn't: they lost to two lowly placed European sides. On March 29, 2003 Albania hammered the Russians 3-1 and a month later on April 30 went down 1-0 to Georgia away from home. Russia finished second in that group behind Switzerland but that wasn't enough.

Latvia 3-2 Turkey (agg) (2003)

Latvia had not qualified for any major competition in their history but reached the play-off round of the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign much against the odds. Up next were Turkey and indeed Latvia stood no chance, or so most observers thoughts. The first-leg of the play-off tie ended in a 1-0 win for the Latvians, thanks to a Maris Verpakovskis strike on 29 minutes.

However, with just under 30 minutes left in the second-leg Turkey were 2-0 up and going through to the finals. Juris Laizans pulled one back on 66 minutes and in the 78th minute Verpakovskis popped up with the equaliser. Latvia went through at the expense of the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists.

Northern Ireland 3-2 Spain (2006)

In the 1982 World Cup finals, Northern Ireland had shocked Spain and in 2006 they did so once again, this time in the Euro 2008 qualifying matches. Spain took the lead through Xavi in the 14th minute at Windsor Park in Belfast but the hosts replied through David Healy six minutes later.

Although David Villa restored la Furia Roja's lead seven minutes into the second-half, Northern Ireland found the target twice thereafter with Healy scoring both times, accomplishing a memorable hat-trick. It was the also Raul's final international game for Spain and the last match the reigning world and European champions lost before going down to the USA in the Confederations Cup semi-finals in 2009.

Portugal 4-4 Cyprus (2010)

Portugal aren't exactly going through the best of periods at the moment but even then a win against Cyprus at home should be guaranteed on paper. But only on paper, because on the football pitch the Selecao failed. Indeed, the Euro 2004 finalists went behind twice but took the lead twice too, only for Cyprus to restore parity on both occasions.

Portugal have been gradually regressing since the end of the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany where they reached the semis but Friday 3 September's result is arguably the nadir of their regression. Or is it...?

With input from Michael Yokhin

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