Greatest Games: Penalty heartbreak for England as Portugal win Euro 2004 shootout

Michael Owen and Ricardo Carvalho
Michael Owen and Ricardo Carvalho in Euro 2004 quarter-final action

Continuing our greatest games series, Jamie Pacheco takes us back to the Euro 2004 quarter-final that ultimately ended in England suffering yet another penalty shoot-out defeat...

"He rips off his gloves and takes his position on the goal-line. He guesses correctly and gloves or no gloves, has all the time in the world to palm away Vassell's effort."

Portugal 2 England 2 (Portugal win 6-5 on penalties)
Euro 2004 Quarter-Final

The background

Hosts Portugal had recovered well to even get this far. After their opening day defeat to Greece, only back-to-back wins would do for them.

A 2-0 victory over Russia was no more than was expected but victory over rivals Spain in a winner-takes-all encounter at the Alvalade looked a much tougher task. Nuno Gomes, only playing because Pauleta was suspended, scored the game's only goal in the 65th minute. Spain were out, Portugal progressed.

Luis Filipe Scolari went with Deco again, in place of Rui Costa. Luis Figo and a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo were out wide with Maniche and Costinha in the heart of midfield; Gomes was preferred to Pauleta upfront.

Sven Goran Eriksson's men were 'Zizoued' in their first game; 1-0 up going into injury time, a quick double from the France captain, first from a direct free-kick and then from the penalty spot, saw them lose 2-1; David Beckham had earlier missed a penalty.

Wayne Rooney-inspired wins over Switzerland (3-0) and Croatia (4-2) put the Three Lions back on track.

England's starting XI wore squad numbers 1-11 in this match. Somewhat proof of the fact that Eriksson was able to field his strongest side.

What happened...

Michael Owen doesn't waste much time reminding everyone that Rooney isn't the only England striker at Euro 2004. After drawing blanks in the Group Games, he strikes in the third minute, turning and shooting in one movement to put England ahead.

Both sides trade decent chances but disaster strikes for England on 27 minutes. Chasing a long ball, Rooney just about controls it but defender Jorge Andrade accidentally steps on his foot and what seems like an innocuous challenge, has a huge bearing on the game. He's broken a bone in his foot.

Ref Urs Meier, more on him in a bit, literally adds insult to injury when he signals for a free kick with Rooney now having the ball firmly under control in the box; his boot had come off with the challenge and it's deemed a foul. Chance chalked off; Rooney limps off. Eriksson favourite Darius Vassell enters the frame.

Postiga's date with destiny

Scolari rings the changes. Costinha makes way for the attack minded Simao Sabrosa and skipper Luis Figo is hooked as well. Tottenham's Helder Postiga- only one league goal all season- seems an unlikely upgrade for the Real Madrid man, but gets the nod anyway. The impressive Deco slips into right-back as Miguel is also subbed.

For England, Paul Scholes is having an uncharacteristically poor game in midfield and in what was his last-ever appearance for England, is subbed for Phil Neville. England fans can be forgiven for fearing the worst.

Ashley Cole makes a last-ditch tackle in the six-yard box, Ricardo saves well from Owen, the excellent Maniche goes close with a couple of long-range efforts. England have less than 10 minutes to hold on.

A corner taken by Deco on the left isn't cleared and 'The Magician' has a second bite of the cherry as regards getting the ball in the box. No mistake this time. Postiga - just about the most unlikely player on the pitch to score on an occasion like this given what happened that season- jumps virtually unchallenged in between the two England centre-backs and David James is helpless. 1-1.

"That wouldn't have been a foul in the Premier League"

Into injury time and England have one last chance to settle the game. From a corner, the ball is headed onto the bar and balloons up. John Terry and Sol Campbell both challenge Ricardo, who barely seems to get off the ground, the ball falls loose and is bundled in.

On the night there was no fan segregation at the stadium. England, Portugal and neutral fans are all packed in together. English and Portuguese supporters are desperate to see their team progress but the only battling that evening is to happen on the field.


England fans stand up and celebrate Campbell's 'goal' but one fan in front of me is ahead of the game. He's seen Urs Meier's raised arm signaling for a foul, and is shaking his head slowly, eyes fixed on the action.

It's a dubious decision and Campbell doesn't like it, but he has to rush back. Portugal aren't going to be counting their blessings and almost catch England napping after a swiftly taken free kick from the disallowed goal gives them a decent chance on the break. It's snuffed out. Extra-time.

Costa rolls back the years, Lampard levels

Not much to see in the first half but Rui Costa looks up for it.

In the second half of extra time he goes on a mazy run, slim torso winding one way and another, shoulder-length hair bobbing from side to side. Neville tries to close him down but Costa glides past him, like he's covered in grease. The ball rifles in off the cross bar. Costa just keeps on running. 2-1.

England have 10 minutes to find an equalizer. Simao has the chance to wrap it up but his shot just goes wide.

Another corner, another Beckham delivery. Terry rises highest, Frank Lampard controls the ball and shoots on the turn. Back level. It's penalties.

When the gloves are off...

Beckham decides to go all 'captain leads by example'. Misplaced bravado. He follows up that miss from the spot against France with a blazing effort that goes seven feet over the bar. Like a disappointed dismissed batsman looking suspiciously at the pitch, he shakes his head in an accusatory way. He's not fooling anyone.

Deco, Owen, Simao, Lampard all bury theirs. Costa skies it over the bar.

Terry, Ronaldo, Hargreaves and Maniche all keep their cool, as well. Cole sends Ricardo the wrong way.

If Postiga misses, they're out. Nerves? What nerves? He takes and scores it Panenka-style. Cameras pan to Deco, who is laughing at the audacity of it all. James in goal, fails to see the funny side of it; he's sick of the sight of him.

Having seen the last five efforts go in, Ricardo has had enough. The great Eusebio is seen chatting to him; the keeper needs to do something. He does.


He rips off his gloves and takes his position on the goal-line. He guesses correctly and gloves or no gloves, has all the time in the world to palm away Vassell's effort. Is there to be one last twist?

There is. Nuno Valente, the left-back and a reluctant volunteer to take the next one, is halfway to the ball when Ricardo runs up to him, points to himself and sends Valente back towards the halfway line; Valente does as he's told. The England fan in front of me can't take it anymore. 'No, not the f****** keeper.'

Gloves off, Ricardo buries it hard and low to James' right. It's all over.

With an early goal, injury to England's star man, redemption for Postiga, a (wrongly?) disallowed winner, a roll-back-the-years classic from Costa, a last-gasp equaliser, an England skipper fluffing his lines from the spot, a Panenka penalty, a spot-kick saved without gloves and a winning penalty from the same keeper....this is surely the greatest game ever.

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