Like I said, my diary entries after the end of April were a little spasmodic. What with my A Levels and all that, I was just sooooooo busy with revision and everything. Or not.
Anyway, today was the first day of the 1988 European Football Championships, held in West Germany. As it was back in the day, there were only eight teams in the finals tournament, and this time around it did not feature the reigning champions, France. The tournament consisted of two groups of four teams, from which the four semi-finalists would emerge.
Today we watched the hosts play out a 1-1 draw with Italy in Group A. Roberto Mancini scored the opener before Andreas Brehme equalised for the Germans.
Today saw the second game in Group A. It pitched perennial under achievers Spain against Denmark. Míchel opened the scoring after just 5 minutes before the Danes equalised through Michael Laudrup on 24 minutes.
After half time Spain went 3-1 up with goals from Emilio Butragueño and Rafael Gordillo. Denmark pulled one back through Flemming Povlsen with 8 minutes to go. But it wasn’t to be and Spain held out for a 3-2 victory.
A double header in Group B saw Ireland take on England in the earlier, afternoon kick off, before the Netherlands took on the Soviet Union.
Both games finished 1-0 to the relatively unfancied teams. To deal with the British Isles clash first: Glaswegian Irishman Ray Houghton did his bit for Scotland, sorry Ireland after just 6 minutes as Bobby Robson’s England team were defeated.
This was to be a dreadful tournament for England, but the currency that he had built up from England’s decent performance and ultimately dodgy departure from Mexico 86 probably saved his job. Not that the boys in the press would have seen it that way…
In the other game in Cologne, Vasyl Rats’ goal on 52 minutes was enough to beat the star studded Dutch team of Rijkaard, van Basten, Gullit et al. More of them later…
Today saw the second round of matches in Group A of Euro88. Possibly benefiting from an extra day’s rest we had wins for West Germany (2-0 over Denmark) and Italy (1-0 over Spain).
The goals came from Klinsmann, Thon and Gianluca Vialli – I am sure that you can work out for whom those players would have scored.
At this point in time, things were looking good for West Germany and Italy with three points each from their draw and a win records (three points for a win was still an English experiment at this time).
More action in Group B now as first England took on the Netherlands in Düsseldorf, followed by the Ireland versus Soviet Union tie.
Having lost their opening game the Dutch were keen to make amends against an England team which had also lost theirs. Marco van Basten opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, so no clean sheet for Shilts on his 100th appearance, before Bryan Robson levelled things before ten minutes of the second half had elapsed. But that was the high water mark of the whole tournament for England as van Basten notched twice more to complete his hat trick.
In the other game in Hanover, Ronnie “Dusty” Whelan shinned the Irish into a first half lead. In the second half, Oleg Protasov secured a point for the Soviets with his neat finish under Packie Bonner in the Irish goal.
So that was it, we could now move on to the final group games with three of the four teams still in with a shout of advancing to the semi-finals. Sorry England. Or should that be sorry, England… Nope, I’ll stick with sorry England.
The thing about tournament football is the way it extends the football season for that extra little bit. Tonight, after a hard week at it with A Level exams, it was good to have some more footy to look forward to.
There was a choice of the Group A games between West Germany and Spain or Italy and Denmark. Both were north versus south encounters, but on paper the hosts versus Spain looked the best for me. So there was I, glued to the TV as Rudi Völler did his bit with the two goals that took the West Germans into the semi finals.
Due to the Italians replicating the score in their game, with goals by Altobelli and De Agostini, the West Germans would be top of the group to face the second placed team from England’s group whilst Italy would face the winners of England’s group. Since England could be neither of those teams it was all pretty academic to me.
Perhaps the best said about England’s showing in these European Championships the better. So, after winning 3-1 against England in Frankfurt, the Soviet Union booked their place in the semi-finals as group winners.
In the second game, there was still all to play for, in Gelsenkirchen, with both Ireland and the Netherlands in with a shout of progressing. Ireland did manage to hit the post from their only corner of the game, but they were always going to be up against it, playing the likes of Gullit, van Basten and Rijkaard. Not to mention Wim Kieft and his off spinning header which eluded Packie Bonner to give the Dutch the game.
And that was that, the Soviet Union would play Italy whilst the Dutch would face their friends and neighbours West Germany.
Semi-final number one saw the small matter of a local derby between (two countries!) West Germany and the Netherlands.
Fortunately it didn’t degenerate in quite the way that the teams’ tie in Italia 90 was to do, but unfortunately it didn’t really do much more than smoulder either.
After an exchange of penalties, the game was decided with a moment of pure class though, as Marco van Basten took Jan Wouters’ pass to sweep his right footed finish past Eike Immel. With only two minutes remaining on the clock, the precipice was too sheer for the West Germans to climb. The Dutch were headed to Munich.
In the second semi-final we saw perennial tournament long stayers Italy come up against the first winners of the European Football Championships, the USSR.
However, this was to be the end of the line for the Italians. Two goals in four second half minutes from Ukrainians Gennadiy Lytovchenko followed by Oleg Protasov were enough to knock the stuffing out of the Azzuri’s challenge.
And that was pretty much that. We were now just waiting for the final. Having beaten the Netherlands in the group stage, would the Soviets be able to repeat the dose for the Dutch, or would the tables be turned? Only three days to go…
Oh, and by the way, I had finished my A Levels now, so all I was waiting for in that respect were my results.
Just three words:
Marco van Basten
Ruud Gullit also scored and Hans van Breukelen saved Igor Belanov’s penalty, but they’re just incidental.