England face Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday looking to reach a UEFA European Championship final for the first time. We shine the spotlight on their two previous semi-final ties.
Having won the FIFA World Cup on home soil just two years earlier, England were looking to add continental honours to their cabinet at the tournament in Italy. However, the absence of injured duo Geoff Hurst and Nobby Stiles, key figures in that 1966 triumph, did not help their cause in Florence, especially against a strong Yugoslavia side. A hard-fought match looked to be heading for a draw until the 86th minute, when Dragan Džajić ghosted in behind Bobby Moore to control a cross from the left on his chest before smashing high into the net. Matters went from bad to worse shortly before the final whistle when Alan Mullery became the first England player to be sent off in the country’s history.
It was almost 30 years before England reached the same stage of the competition again, spurred on as tournament hosts at EURO ’96. Terry Venables’s side won Group A with seven points from three games, including a thumping 4-1 win over the Netherlands on Matchday 3 that sparked a wave of optimism across the country.
They edged Spain 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes to set up a semi-final showdown with old rivals Germany, and when Alan Shearer headed in from a corner in the third minute at Wembley, everything appeared to be going to plan. Stefan Kuntz equalised shortly afterwards, however, and although the Three Lions had a number of promising openings to restore their lead they just could not apply the finishing touch, Darren Anderton hitting the post and Paul Gascoigne agonisingly close to converting Alan Shearer’s cross-shot.
The match ultimately went to penalties, each side converting their first five kicks before Andreas Köpke saved from Gareth Southgate. Andreas Möller showed no mercy, sending Germany into a final against the Czech Republic they would win via a golden goal. England would have to wait 25 years for their next semi-final opportunity, with Southgate the manager leading his side’s quest to go one better at last.