Best goals in European Championship history
So far, 15 European Championships have been played with 687 goals having been scored, an average of 2.4 per game.
So, to pick the best ten was very difficult but here are the ten best goals ever scored at European Championships, so far.
- Zlatan Ibrahimović vs France (Euro 2012)
- Cristiano Ronaldo vs Hungary (Euro 2016)
- Ronnie Whelan vs Soviet Union (Euro 1988)
- Xherdan Shaqiri vs Poland (Euro 2016)
- Maniche vs Netherlands (Euro 2004)
- Hal Robson-Kanu vs Belgium (Euro 2016)
- Zlatan Ibrahimović vs Italy (Euro 2004)
- Paul Gascoigne vs Scotland (Euro 1996)
- Antonín Panenka vs West Germany (Euro 1976)
- Marco van Basten vs USSR (Euro 1988)
10: Zlatan Ibrahimović vs France Euro 2012 group stages
🤔 Who else could score this goal?
🇸🇪 A brilliant acrobatic goal by Zlatan Ibrahimović (👇) and Sebastian Larsson’s late strike handed Sweden a 2-0 win against France at EURO 2012!#OTD | @svenskfotboll | @Ibra_official pic.twitter.com/TDKoBcBGUC
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 19, 2020
Back in 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimović scored this spectacular scissor-kick strike against France in a group stage match in Kyiv.
Sebastian Larsson floats a cross in from the right which looks impossible to score from but not when Zlatan is around.
This was 33rd of 62 international goals he’s scored.
What goes against this goal being higher on the list is that it was ultimately meaningless.
Having lost to Ukraine and England already, Sweden had been eliminated and France were through to the quarter-finals.
Nevertheless, whenever one is comprising a list of spectacular goals, Ibrahimović is always like to feature.
9: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Hungary Euro 2016 group stages
Another goal scored by a legend of the game was this one four years later by Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2016.
On 22 June, Portugal and Hungary played out, probably, the game of the tournament at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Hungary led three times, including a spectacular opener from Zoltán Gera, but A Seleção came back each time to snatch a 3-3 draw.
But it was the second Portuguese equaliser that lives long in the memory.
João Mário’s hopeful cross finds its way towards Cristiano Ronaldo who majestically flicks the ball, which is behind him, past Gábor Király and into the far corner.
The first reason this is such a special goal is because only a tiny number of players who’ve ever played the game could have scored it, one of which is of course Ronaldo.
But also, this point was so vital for Fernando Santos’ side as it meant, despite drawing all three matches in Group F, Portugal went through as one of the best ranked third-placed teams.
Of course, Portugal went on to win Euro 2016, lifting their first ever major international silverware.
8: Ronnie Whelan vs Soviet Union Euro 1988 group stages
The Republic of Ireland don’t score too many goals at major international competitions but, when they do, they’re often worth the wait.
Back in 1987, the Irish qualified for their very first major tournament, largely thanks to a famous 2-0 victory over Bulgaria in qualifying at Lansdowne Road.
So, when Jack Charlton’s side turned up as one of the eight competing nations in West Germany, they were rank outsiders.
However, in the opening game, Ray Houghton scored, probably, Ireland’s most famous goal in a 1-0 victory over arch-rivals England at Neckarstadion.
Three days later, they took on Soviet Union at Niedersachsenstadion and Ronnie Whelan scored this amazing goal.
Mick McCarthy’s long throw found the Liverpool legend on the edge of the box and he, quite incredibly, volleyed it in; Rinat Dasayev didn’t have a prayer.
The amount of power Whelan gets on the ball from that far out, as well as the acrobatic nature of it, is what sets this apart as an amazing goal.
Despite this, Ireland were eliminated in the group stages, losing 1-0 to eventual winners Netherlands in their final game having only drawn 1-1 with the USSR.
7: Xherdan Shaqiri vs Poland Euro 2016 round of 16
🤯 5 incredible EURO acrobatic goals!
Pick 1⃣❗️ pic.twitter.com/N38cn4ZqU6
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 18, 2020
At Euro 2016, for the first time, UEFA’s goal of the tournament was given out and this goal justifies the new award’s introduction.
On 25 June 2016, Poland are taking on Switzerland in a first knockout round tie at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne.
With just eight minutes remaining, the Poles are starting to plan for the last eight until this amazing overhead kick from Xherdan Shaqiri.
A floaty cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner flicks up off a defender and, from outside the box, Shaqiri managed to hook the ball in off the post and past Łukasz Fabiański.
This forced the game into extra time and then a penalty shootout but was in vain for the Swiss with Granit Xhaka the only man to miss from the spot.
Even so, a worthy winner of goal of the tournament and worthy of a place on this list.
6: Maniche vs Netherlands Euro 2004 semi-finals
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 30, 2020
Back in 2004, Portugal were supposed to win Euro 2004.
They’d never won major silverware before, and wouldn’t for another 12 years, but, as hosts, the Portuguese felt that their time was now.
Understandably so too, Luiz Felipe Scolari was their Head Coach and he’d just won the World Cup in charge of Brazil.
At his disposal were superstars like Luís Figo, Rui Costa and a 19 year old called Cristiano Ronaldo; whatever happened to him?
They also had a core of FC Porto players like Deco, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Nuno Valente who’d just one the Champions League.
Another one of these was Maniche who was one of the stars of Euro 2004, scoring in the 2-0 group stage victory over Russia.
Fast-forward to the semi-final stages: in one Greece are taking on Czech Republic while a day earlier the hosts would face Netherlands at Estádio José Alvalade.
Given that two rank-outsiders are on the other side of the draw, if Portugal could just beat the Dutch they’d have one hand on the trophy, right?
A now trademark Ronaldo header put his side in front before, just after half time, Ronaldo took a corner quickly to Maniche who amazingly curled it past Edwin van der Sar.
Short-corners enrage football fans across the globe but, if they panned out like this more often, maybe that wouldn’t be the case.
Portugal held on to win 2-1 before suffering a shock 1-0 defeat to Greece in the final.
Even so, this strike deserves to be remembered as one of the best goals at a Euro.
5: Hal Robson-Kanu vs Belgium Euro 2016 quarter-finals
🇧🇪 Belgium vs Wales 🏴
An iconic goal from Hal Robson-Kanu during the Euro 2016 Quarter Final.pic.twitter.com/XB9j2LmFjA
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) March 24, 2021
This list contains some of the best players to ever play the game.
Players who won the Champions League, the European Championships, league titles and Ballon d’Ors.
This list also contains Hal Robson-Kanu.
Back in 2016, Wales were making their debut at a European Championships and their first appearance at a major competition since 1958.
Despite this, victories over Slovakia, Russia and Northern Ireland had propelled them to the quarter-finals where they met one of the tournament favourites Belgium.
When Radja Nainggolan hammered one into the top corner after just 13 minutes, surely all of those inside Stade Pierre-Mauroy and watching at home thought it was probably game over.
However, the scores were level at half time thanks to a thumping Ashley Williams header.
Then, just ten minutes after the interval, a looping Aaron Ramsey cross found Hal Robson-Kanu just inside the box.
He then pulls off this stunning Cruyff Turn, which fooled three defenders, and fired past Thibaut Courtois.
Legend has it that Marouane Fellaini, Thomas Meunier and Jason Denayer are still looking for the ball somewhere in-and-around Lille.
Wales went on to win 3-1 before losing to eventual winners Portugal in the semis.
Even so, this strike from Robson-Kanu is, and probably always will be, the most iconic goal in Welsh history.
4: Zlatan Ibrahimović vs Italy Euro 2004 group stages
🎁🎂 @Ibra_official 🎂🎁
Scorer of great goals ✅ Great goalscorer ✅
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) October 3, 2019
Zlatan would be very pleased that Zlatan is the only player who features in this list twice.
Back in 2004, a 22 year old Ibrahimović had just won the Eredivisie with Ajax, scoring 13 league goals, and was about to move to Juventus for €16 million.
It was at this tournament that he announced himself as a star of the future.
In the first game, he scored a penalty as Sweden hammered Bulgaria 5-0.
Four days later, they were 1-0 down to Italy at Estádio do Dragão, needing a moment of magic and wow did they get it.
With just four minutes to play, Sweden have a corner which then bounced around the penalty area and, somehow, Ibrahimović managed to get there before his future Juve teammate Gianluigi Buffon and flick it in.
The reason this goal is so highly-rated is because you simply don’t see goals like this, a back-heel, karate flick in mid-air.
Only Zlatan scores goals like this.
Sweden went on to top Group C but were beaten in a penalty shootout by Netherlands in the quarter-finals, Ibrahimović one of the men to miss at Estádio Algarve.
3: Paul Gascoigne vs Scotland Euro 1996 group stages
The most iconic goal in modern English football history: it has to rank highly on this list.
1996 was the summer that football came home with England hosting a major competition for the first time since winning World Cup 1966.
Terry Venables’ side though started poorly, only drawing 1-1 with Switzerland in the first group game thanks to Kubilay Türkyılmaz’s late penalty.
So, going into the second game against bitter rivals Scotland, the Three Lions were under pressure.
With just over ten minutes to play, England led 1-0 but the Scots had a penalty which Gary McAllister took but his effort was smartly saved by David Seaman.
Straight after, the hosts went up the other end and the ball found its way to star man Paul Gascoigne.
Gazza flicked the ball up in the air, over Colin Hendry’s head, before volleying magnificently into the bottom corner.
A truly magnificent goal scored by a true genius of the game.
England would go onto win 2-0, topping Group A, before losing, as usual, on penalties to the Germans in the semi-finals.
2: Antonín Panenka vs West Germany Euro 1976 Final
Who else has taken a penalty like this❓
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 20, 2020
It takes a special player to have an intangible part of football named after them.
You might think of the Makélélé Role, the Cruyff Turn or perhaps a player moving ‘on a Bosman’.
Antonín Panenka certainly falls into this category.
This is the oldest of all the goals on this list and, uniquely, was scored in a penalty shootout.
Back in 1976, just four teams qualified for the European Championships with Czechoslovakia beating Netherlands in one semi-final and West Germany overcoming hosts Yugoslavia in the other.
In the final at Stadion Rajko Mitić, despite taking an early 2-0 lead, Czechoslovakia were held to a 2-2 draw and the match went to a penalty shootout.
This was the first penalty shootout in Euro history with, for example, Italy winning the Euro ’68 semi-final via a coin toss.
The first eight penalties were scored but Uli Hoeneß was denied for the Germans.
So, Antonín Panenka stepped up for the biggest moment of his lift to win the trophy for Czechoslovakia.
Rather than just hitting the ball as hard as he could, the done thing those days, Panenka decided to delicately chip the ball down the middle with Sepp Maier merely diving out of the way.
In doing so, he won the trophy for his country and wrote his name into football history, giving his name to what is now known around the world as a Panenka penalty.
1: Marco van Basten vs USSR Euro 1988 Final
— EURO 2020 🇫🇷 (@EURO2020FR) March 3, 2016
Despite the fact this goal was scored 33 years ago, Marvo van Basten’s incredible volley remains undisputed as the greatest goal in European Championship history.
Netherlands actually lost their first match of Euro ’88, 1-0 to Soviet Union, but recovered by beating England and Ireland in the group stages, Marco van Basten with a hat-trick in the former.
In the semi-finals, he was on target again in a come from behind 2-1 victory over rivals West Germany at Volksparkstadion, this goal an 88th minute winner.
In the final, 13 days after meeting in Köln, Oranje met the USSR again.
This time, Ruud Gullit put Holland in front at Olympiastadion just after the half-hour mark.
Then, early in the second half, the iconic game-clinching goal.
A long, diagonal cross from the left found van Basten who, amazingly, volley the ball over the goalkeeper and into the far corner from the acutest of angles.
This saw the Dutch lift their one, and so far only, major silverware, led by legendary coach Rinus Michels.
Van Basten’s goal is still reference today when comparing great volleys, even by those who weren’t alive to see it, highlighting it’s quality and deserved spot as the best Euro goal of all time.
Friday 11 June 2021- Turkey vs Italy.
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