Euro Flashback: Greece shock the continent with iconic tournament win

class=”styled__BannerImage-sc-1wadlxz-1 iLJqYu styles_articleMainImage__Lj_Qv”>Mihalis Kapsis basks in the glory of Greece's surprise Euro 2004 success

Mihalis Kapsis basks in the glory of Greece's surprise Euro 2004 success

Throughout Euro 2020, we have been looking back at classic games from previous tournaments. Today’s featured match is Greece’s shock 1-0 victory over Portugal in the Euro 2004 final.

Home soil hopes

Hopes of a first ever major trophy were high in Portugal ahead of their European Championship final showdown with tournament surprise package Greece.

Everything appeared to be falling into place for the Selecao at Euro 2004 – they had home advantage, a World Cup winning manager in Luiz Felipe Scolari and a star-studded squad featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.

Their performances were improving throughout the competition too – after a shock 2-1 opening game defeat to their final opponents Greece, Portugal topped Group A with victories over Russia and Spain.

A penalty shootout win over England in the quarter-finals followed, before goals from Ronaldo and Maniche saw them beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the semi-final.

Otto’s magic

While Portugal were simply fulfilling expectations by reaching the final, Greece’s Euro 2004 journey was nothing short of remarkable.

Veteran German coach Otto Rehhagel was hitting new heights with a nation that had only featured in one World Cup and a solitary European Championship prior to the tournament.

To simply qualify from a group containing Portugal, Spain and Russia was impressive enough, but Rehhagel’s direct counter-attacking approach took the continent by storm.

Angelos Charisteas’ 65th minute strike was enough to eliminate European powerhouse France in their quarter-final encounter, while it took extra-time to edge past the Czech Republic and into the competition’s showpiece event in Lisbon.

Angelos Charisteas scores the winning goal in Greece's European Championship final clash with Portugal
Angelos Charisteas scores the winning goal in Greece's European Championship final clash with Portugal

Fool me twice

Portugal had dominated the ball in their group stage defeat to Greece, but were unable to break down a stubborn defence.

Striker Pauleta had often looked isolated up front as the Selecao struggled to make an impact in the final third.

Figo bemoaned Greece’s 2-1 smash-and-grab victory at full-time.

He said: “We didn’t deserve to lose – Greece had two chances and scored both times.”

But, despite the benefit of a trial run for the final, Portugal were unable to stop Rehhagel’s men repeating the trick second time around.

Defences win titles

As expected, Greece set out to stifle Portugal’s attack from the off – packing their penalty area and frustrating the hosts.

Scolari’s side had chances to take the lead, but they were few and far between.

Miguel forced a save from goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis in the 13th minute, before Maniche narrowly missed the target from just outside the area.

But as so often before in this tournament, it was Greece who snatched a winner against the run of play.

Charisteas notched his third – and most important – goal of the competition when he rose to head home Angelos Basinas’ 57th minute corner, sending his nation into raptures and securing one of the all-time greatest underdog victories.

Greece lift the Euro 2004 trophy after defeating Portugal in Lisbon
Greece lift the Euro 2004 trophy after defeating Portugal in Lisbon

Hellenic heroes, pain for Portugal

Rehhagel and his Greek team were lauded back home and across the continent, and their shock win ushered in a period of relative success for the previously unheralded nation.

Though they suffered the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, Greece featured at the following four major tournaments – reaching the knockout stages in Brazil in 2014 and the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

For Portugal, the devastation of losing the final in Lisbon will live long in the memory and the Selecao went agonisingly close to achieving glory in the years that followed.

But after semi-final elimination at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012, they finally lifted a major trophy when they beat France 1-0 in the final of Euro 2016.

For Ronaldo and co, good things come to those who wait.

Tags

GreecePortugalEuropean Championship