Flashscore remembers: The best opening matches in European Championship history


Flashscore remembers: The best opening matches in European Championship history

France's Dimitri Payet (centre) celebrating his winning goal against Romania in Euro 2016's opening match
France's Dimitri Payet (centre) celebrating his winning goal against Romania in Euro 2016's opening matchAFP
The 17th edition of the European Championship gets underway on Friday when tournament hosts Germany face Scotland in a fascinating opening match at the Allianz Arena.

Having registered wins over France and the Netherlands in the lead-up to Euro 2024, Friday’s game against the Tartan Army presents a perfect opportunity for Julian Nagelsmann’s side to lay down an early marker in the prestigious competition. 

The expectant home support will be hoping for a statement performance and an opening match to remember, setting the tone for a blockbuster month of football in Germany. 

Euro 2024's opening match
Euro 2024's opening matchFlashscore

Since the inaugural edition of the European Championship back in 1960, the competition has provided its fair share of drama and a whole host of memorable openers. 

From nine-goal thrillers to monumental shocks, the first game of the tournament attracts interest from all over the world, making it an occasion not to be missed. 

So, without further ado, join Flashscore as we look back on five opening matches that will forever be etched into European Championship history. 

France 4-5 Yugoslavia (1960)

The very first European Championships were held in France, and the tournament exploded into life with the hosts on the wrong end of a nine-goal blockbuster against Yugoslavia

Milan Galic opened the scoring for the visitors, however, France equalised just a minute later to restore parity in Paris.

The hosts looked to be in cruise control with a 4-2 lead heading into the final quarter-hour, but three goals in the space of four minutes gave Yugoslavia a thrilling victory late on.

Belgium 2-1 Sweden (2000)

Euro 2000 co-hosts Belgium got their campaign off to a dream start as goals from Bart Goor and Emile Mpenza fired Robert Waseige’s men to an impressive opening win over Sweden.

The pair of expertly-taken strikes arrived in a three-minute period either side of half-time, only for Sweden to halve the deficit shortly afterwards following an unfortunate slip from Filip De Wilde

The Blue and Yellow looked in the ascendancy at that point, but any hopes of salvaging a dramatic point were dashed when captain Patrik Andersson was dismissed in the final 10 minutes, allowing Belgium to hold on and claim the spoils.

Portugal 1-2 Greece (2004)

Giorgos Karagounis silenced the home support just seven minutes into the tournament curtain-raiser before Angelos Basinas sensationally doubled Greece’s lead early on in the second half.

A 19-year-old by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo netted a late consolation for Portugal, but it proved too little too late as Otto Rehhagel’s side kicked off Euro 2004 with an upset for the ages.

The two sides would meet once again in the tournament showpiece three weeks later, with Greece coming out on top to seal one of the most remarkable titles in the competition’s history.

France 2-1 Romania (2016)

After a frustrating first half against Romania, Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock for Euro 2016 hosts France, heading in from Dimitri Payet’s inswinging delivery. 

The French lead lasted just eight minutes, however, as Bogdan Stancu held his nerve in front of the travelling Romanian fans to stroke home from the spot, setting up a fascinating finale. 

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Payet - fresh from a brilliant maiden campaign at West Ham - took matters into his own hands, rifling a stunning 89th-minute strike into the top corner to give France a crucial opening win in Saint-Denis.

Turkey 0-3 Italy (2021)

Roberto Mancini’s Italy kicked off Euro 2020 in style with a dominant 3-0 triumph over Turkey in Rome - their biggest-ever win in the competition.

All three goals arrived in a rampant second-half display, as strikes from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne added to Merih Demiral’s unfortunate own goal. 

It was a statement performance from the Azzurri and a sign of things to come, with Mancini’s men seeing off the rest of the competition to clinch their second European Championship title.


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