Anticipation is building for England versus Scotland at Wembley in Euro 2020 which will undoubtedly stir memories of the last time the two rivals met in the European Championships – in an unforgettable Euro ’96 showdown.
It’s 25 years since that sunny June afternoon when England celebrated a 2-0 win which kick-started Terry Venables’ side’s run to the semi-finals on home soil and, of course, featured one of the most iconic goals ever scored under the old Twin Towers.
With England hosting a major football tournament for the first time since 1966, expectations were high that Venables’ men would end the country’s long wait for silverware that summer.
Euro ’96 is a competition that is rightly remembered fondly as the Three Lions grew into the tournament amid passionate backing from the home fans.
Pressure on After Opening Draw
However, England had begun their Group A campaign with an underwhelming 1-1 Wembley draw against Switzerland so the pressure was on to beat Scotland or an embarrassing early exit could easily have been on the cards.
And it wasn’t until the second half against Craig Brown’s side that the hosts really got going. After a cagey, even first 45 minutes, Venables opted to bring on Jamie Redknapp at half-time and the Liverpool midfielder’s introduction sparked a big improvement in their performance.
Shearer Nods England Ahead
In a dramatic second half, England went in front through reliable talisman Alan Shearer, who headed home Gary Neville’s cross at the far post after 53 minutes, before Teddy Sheringham forced Andy Goram into a fine save shortly afterwards.
Scotland attempted to respond and nearly equalised through Gordon Durie ,but his header was clawed out brilliantly by England keeper David Seaman as chances came and went at both ends.
As the tension rose, Durie was involved again when he was scythed down by Tony Adams in the box, but Gary McAllister’s 76th-minute penalty was parried away by Seaman to ensure England stayed in front.
Gazza’s Magic Moment
Then came the moment of the match – and arguably the career of Paul Gascoigne. In one of the most replayed England goals of all time, ‘Gazza’, who at the time was starring in Scotland for Rangers at club level, instinctively lobbed a bouncing ball over Colin Hendry’s head before firing a sublime volley into the back of the net.
What followed is remembered almost as much as the goal itself. Gazza lay down on the turf and recreated the ‘Dentist’s Chair’ image that he and some of the players had been criticised for in the papers just days before the tournament began.
Using the drinks bottles beside the goal to portray the alcohol it was claimed bartenders had poured down their open mouths on a night out in Hong Kong, Gazza, aided by Steve McManaman, Redknapp and Sheringham, starred in a choreographed celebration to hit back at the press.
Such was the beauty of the goal and the frenzied reaction to it from the fans, their pre-tournament misdemeanours were quickly forgotten and England suddenly had lift-off.
Venables’ men went on to produce a stunning display to beat the Netherlands 4-1 in their final group game, before seeing off Spain on penalties on route to the semis, where they were agonisingly knocked out by Germany on spot-kicks, with current boss Gareth Southgate missing the crucial penalty.
Kluivert Consolation Knocked Scotland out
To rub salt into the wounds for Scotland, they were eliminated only on goals scored thanks to Patrick Kluivert’s consolation in Holland’s 4-1 Wembley defeat after they beat the Swiss in their final group game.
Scotland are back this summer in their first appearance at the Euros since 1996 and they are
5/4 to qualify out of Group D, while England are
4/11 to win the group, which also contains Croatia and the Czech Republic.
*All odds correct at time of writing