Co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium, the tournament was the first of the new millennium and a historic one as France became world and European champions in a memorable final
|HOST COUNTRIES - NETHERLANDS & BELGIUM
For the first time, the European Championship was co-hosted, the joint bid of Belgium and the Netherlands succeeding over rival bids from Spain and Austria. The two countries staged 31 matches between 10 June and 2 July 2000, in eight different locations, four in the Netherlands and four in Belgium - who had previously hosted the 1972 finals on their own.
The Dutch venues were the Feyenoord Stadium (De Kuip) in Rotterdam, Amsterdam ArenA, Philips Stadium in Eindhoven and Gelredome in Arnhem.
The four Belgian venues used were the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, Stade Maurice Dufrasne in Liege, Charleroi's Stade du Pays de Charleroi and the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. The King Baudouin was formerly the Heysel Stadium, which had been rebuilt, and Euro 2000 was the first major Uefa competition to use it since the infamous Heysel disaster in 1985. The opening match and the final were played at the King Baudouin Stadium.
|IN THE NEWS IN 2000...
|* In the largest-ever corporate merger, America Online (AOL) announces an agreement to purchase Time Warner for $162 billion (£139bn)
* The death of its creator Charles M. Schulz means the original 'Peanuts' comic strip is published for the last time
* Sony's PlayStation 2 is released and becomes the best-selling game console of all time
* In the Netherlands, a fireworks store explodes, destroying the entire neighborhood of Roombeek and killing 23 people, including four firemen
* Australian Cathy Freeman wins the 400m final in front of her home crowd at the Sydney Olympics
The Czech Republic qualified with a perfect record of 10 wins out of 10 in Group 9, 12 points ahead of runners-up Scotland. Romania were also unbeaten, but topped Group 7 only one point better off than second-placed Portugal - who qualified automatically as the best runners-up.
There were close finishes too, with only one point between first and second, in three other groups: Italy shaded Denmark in Group 1 (where Switzerland finished level on points with the Danes), France edged Ukraine in Group 4, and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (effectively Serbia & Montenegro) finished in front of the Republic of Ireland in Group 8, which also included Croatia and Macedonia.
Germany won Group 3, two points ahead of Turkey, but elsewhere there were wider margins between the winners and runners-up. Slovenia finished eight points behind Group 2 winners Norway, as did Israel behind Spain in Group 6, while Sweden won Group 5 by nine points from both England and Poland, with the Three Lions finishing as runners-up by virtue of a better head-to-head record.
Eight runners-up entered the play-offs, which saw England beat Scotland 2-1 on aggregate, Denmark thrash Israel 8-0, and Slovenia triumph 3-2 against Ukraine. The play-off between the Republic of Ireland and Turkey finished 1-1 on aggregate, with Turkey qualifying through the penalty scored by Tayfur Havutcu away in Dublin.
For Slovenia and Norway, Euro 2000 was their first appearance in the final stage of the European Championship.
Having seen their team recover to beat Germany 1-0, England fans expected better than a second 3-2 defeat, this time to Romania, who snatched victory with a late penalty. But if the Three Lions were familiar with failure to advance beyond the group stage - this being their third such flop in the last four tournaments - Germany certainly were not. A shadow of earlier German sides, they managed a solitary point from an opening 1-1 draw with Romania, who qualified for the knock-out stage as Group A runners-up.
There was intense local disappointment when Belgium, having won their first Group B game against Sweden, lost to Turkey and Italy and crashed out. The Italians achieved a 100 per cent record.
The other host country, pre-tournament favourites the Netherlands, fared better and progressed as expected from Group D along with world champions France. Oranje topped the group by beating Les Bleus 3-2 in their last group match, while 1992 champions Denmark failed to win a game, and 1996 runners-up Czech Republic beat the Danes but no-one else.
Group C staged a memorable encounter between FR Yugoslavia and Spain, who required victory to progress but went 3-2 behind when Slobodan Komljenovic scored with 15 minutes to go. Yet the Spaniards conjured two stoppage-time goals to clinch a dramatic 4-3 win. There was nevertheless salvation for the Yugoslavs, who had earlier drawn 3-3 with Slovenia and beaten Norway 1-0; they advanced after debutants Norway and Slovenia produced a goalless last-match stalemate.
The quarter-finals saw both Italy and Portugal extend their unbeaten records, vanquishing Romania and Turkey, respectively. A late missed penalty by Raul undid Spain, who lost 2-1 to France. But the performance of the round belonged to the Netherlands, who crushed FR Yugoslavia 6-1.
It was a last hurrah for the Dutch, however. Having seen Frank de Boer and Patrick Kluivert fail from the spot during regulation time against Italy, they exited a major tournament via a penalty shoot-out for the fourth time in eight years. The Azzurri proved obdurate and resourceful, holding firm despite having Gianluca Zambrotta sent off after 34 minutes. Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, man-of-the-match, saved the crucial penalty from Paul Bosvelt to send Dino Zoff's side into the final.
Meanwhile a penalty was also decisive - and a flashpoint for controversy - as France beat Portugal in extra-time. Portuguese players disputed the award of the spot-kick, for handball by Abel Xavier, and the referee was manhandled; Nuno Gomes was sent off and some lengthy bans followed. But Zinedine Zidane kept his cool, tucked away the 'Golden Goal' penalty and took France to the brink of history.
France 2-1 Italy ('Golden Goal' in extra-time)
Italy were mere moments away from winning their second European title when France turned the final on its head in dramatic, sensational fashion - and in doing so became the first reigning world champions to add the Euro crown to their achievements.
Roger Lemerre and Dino Zoff had changed their respective line-ups for the final, Youri Djorkaeff and Christophe Dugarry starting for Les Bleus and Marco Delvecchio replacing Filippo Inzaghi for the Azzurri.
In a bright start, a Thierry Henry shot hit the frame of Francesco Toldo's goal, and the keeper had to save smartly from Djorkaeff, while Demetrio Albertini went close for Italy with a free kick.
The breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Marcel Desailly failed to reach Pessotto's cross and Delvecchio volleyed the ball into the net from point-blank range. Alessandro Del Piero nearly added a second a few minutes later, but Toldo was still having to perform heroics at the opposite end to keep France at bay.
Lemerre sent on David Trezeguet to create a goal-hungry front three, and Sylvain Wiltord eventually unlocked Italy's defence with only seconds remaining, beating Toldo with a low drive to force extra-time.
Having snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat, France went looking to turn it into victory. They succeeded on 103 minutes, Trezeguet thundering a Robert Pires cross unstoppably into the roof of the Italians' net to claim the Golden Goal and ensure that skipper Didier Deschamps would raise the coveted trophy aloft.
|PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
The playmaker and inspiration of the most successful team in the history of the French national team, Zinedine Zidane followed his outstanding 1998 World Cup winning campaign, when he scored two near-identical headers in the final against Brazil, with an equally influential Euro 2000, in which he was voted Player of the Tournament. The talismanic Zizou scored two goals – one outstanding free kick against Spain in the quarter-final and the match-winning ‘Golden Goal’ from the penalty spot in the semi-final against Portugal.
At the time Zidane was still with Juventus, with whom he won two consecutive Serie A titles and appeared in three consecutive Champions League finals. But the following year he joined Real Madrid and appeared in another Champions League final, scoring a sensational volley in the 2002 victory over Bayer Leverkusen before helping Los Blancos win La Liga. Having briefly retired from international football, he returned for the 2006 World Cup, and although sent off in the final received the Golden Ball as best player in the competition. The former World and European Player of the Year, voted Europe’s best player of the last 50 years, won 108 caps for France, scoring 31 goals and providing 23 assists. He retired as a player in 2006 and in addition to being involved in various charitable activities is now Real Madrid’s sporting director.
|MOMENT OF THE TOURNAMENT
Having been saved from a 1-0 defeat by a Sylvain Wiltord equaliser near the end of the fourth and final minute of injury time in the final, France went on to win Euro 2000 with a sublime moment of skill and breathtaking drama in extra-time. Robert Pires cut the ball back for David Trezeguet to score the Golden Goal, firing a superb shot into the roof of the net.
|MATCH OF THE TOURNAMENT
Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain
A brilliant roller-coaster of a match that had the lot saw Spain, seemingly dead and buried, resurrect their prospects with two stoppage-time goals to clinch a quarter-final berth. Spain had to win to stay in the tournament but, in a game of pace and intensity, fell behind to a Savo Milosevic header. Alfonso equalised before the break, only for Dejan Govedarica to restore Yugoslavia's lead soon after it. Spain levelled immediately through Pedro Munitis.
Slavisa Jokanovic was sent off but despite the numerical disadvantage Slobodan Komljenovic put Yugoslavia ahead again 17 minutes from time. Spanish hopes were fast disappearing as the seconds ebbed away, but no-one had told their players! Their pressure earned a late, late penalty that Gaizka Mendieta converted, then amazingly Alfonso thundered home the winner amid wild excitement. The Yugoslavs were stunned - but when the stadium announcer relayed the news that Norway and Slovenia had drawn, they knew they too were through.
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