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The five biggest Euro blunders of all time

The five biggest Euro blunders of all time

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Following Andriy Pyatov's shocking mistake against England, Goal.com runs through the most agonising, gut-wrenching errors that have cost entire nations a shot at Euro glory

By Enis Koylu

It must be every footballer's nightmare. With millions of people looking on, and the hopes a nation resting on their shoulders, a momentary lapse of concentration, a brief flash of madness, or an untimely slip can destroy it all.

And that is exactly what happened to Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov on Tuesday. With the co-hosts needing a victory against England to secure their place in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, he let Wayne Rooney nod in the opening goal after Steven Gerrard's deflected cross slipped through his grasp.

However, Pyatov can take solace in the fact that he is by no means the first player to have made a costly gaffe at a European Championship.

5. PETR CECH - CZECH REP v TURKEY, 2008


It was so simple. All the Czech Republic had to do was draw against an unconvincing Turkey outfit, and they would have set up an appetising quarter-final showdown with Croatia. And it was all going according to plan, with the Czechs holding a 2-0 lead with just 15 minutes remaining. Arda Turan gave Fatih Terim's side hope, but it still seemed as though the Czechs would manage to hold on. That was until the 87th minute, when Petr Cech dropped an aimless Hamit Altintop cross straight at Nihat Kahveci's feet. The then-Villarreal striker could hardly believe his luck, but he kept his composure and gladly tapped home from close range. Then, seconds later, Nihat scored a screamer to complete a stunning turnaround.

4. STEVEN GERRARD - ENGLAND v FRANCE, 2004


While there are numerous examples of England's hopes of tournament success being thrown away, the failings of the 'golden generation' in 2004 were particularly inexplicable. In a thrilling group-stage encounter with France, Frank Lampard's header looked set to give England a hard-fought victory, despite a David Beckham penalty miss. But then fate intervened. Zinedine Zidane netted a 90th-minute equaliser, before a late, late back-pass from Steven Gerrard fell straight to Thierry Henry. David James charged out of his goal and clumsily tripped the Arsenal striker. Zidane stepped up and scored from the spot to give France a comeback win. England finished second in the group, and got knocked out by Portugal in the quarter-finals. On penalties.

3. ABEL XAVIER - PORTUGAL v FRANCE, 2000


After one of the most enthralling 90 minutes of an excellent tournament, France and Portugal entered extra-time locked at 1-1, and there was the promise of a match being decided by a 'golden goal' for the first time in that summer's competition. Then, with just eight minutes remaining, Sylvain Wiltord seized upon a loose ball after a fumble from Portugal keeper Vitor Baia, and blasted an effort goalwards. Seeing his goalkeeper incapacitated, Abel Xavier flung out an arm to stop the shot from ending the contest. However, the referee spotted it, awarded a penalty, and Zidane made no mistake from the spot. France progressed to the final, and beat Italy to make it back-to-back successes in major tournaments. For Portugal, it was the start of a decade of near misses.
ABEL XAVIER v FRANCE, 20
2. JAAP STAM - NETHERLANDS v ITALY, 2000


Nobody can miss a penalty like a Dutchman. On home soil, Netherlands were bidding to relive the glory of their 1988 triumph 12 years later, but in the semi-final against Italy, things went horribly awry. They had already missed two penalties in normal time when the dreaded shootout, forever the curse of the Dutch, struck again. Frank Rijkaard's side contrived to miss a further three spot-kicks, the worst of which saw Jaap Stam send the ball into the heavens. Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo may as well have not been there. "They could have played for an entire day taking shots at our goal and they would never have scored," Toldo said after the match, and it is hard to disagree with him, given Stam's wayward effort.

1. LUIS ARCONADA - SPAIN v FRANCE, 1984


While Spain have since dispelled their reputation of perennial under-achievers, there was a long period when they were hopeless in major tournaments. In 1984, they had a great chance to repeat their triumph of 20 years previous. But France, spearheaded by legendary No.10 Michel Platini, stood between La Roja and glory. Ten minutes after the break in the final between the two nations, Platini sent a free kick straight at Luis Arconada, but the ball wriggled under the keeper and trickled over the line as though in slow motion. Les Bleus went on to win 2-0, and the Iberians had to wait a further 24 years for a major title.

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