On this day in the Euros, June 11: Spain pain for Danes, again
You might not pick this one out as a classic, but you’d remember it if you saw it.
Spain and Denmark had a thing going on in the mid-80s: every couple of summers they’d meet up somewhere, have a brief get-together and the Danes would end up broken-hearted. La Roja knocked Denmark out of Euro 84 and Mexico 86, and although this didn’t have quite the same effect – at what was the teams’ first group game – the northerners suffered again.
The Spanish won a flowing game by the odd goal in five. Despite being man-marked by Jan Heintze, Michel ran the show, opening the scoring in the fifth minute, completing a one-two by getting the ball out from between his feet and finishing well.
Then Michael Laudrup, no bad player himself, levelled halfway through the first period – picking the ball up just outside the area, shifting it onto his left and thence into the back of Andoni Zubizarreta’s net. As BBC commentator Barry Davies put it, “Laudrup… and still… oh yes! I say!”
Michel’s penalty was saved by Troels Rasmussen, but after the oranges the Spanish, finalists at the previous tournament, took control. Eight minutes in, a bizarre bent through-ball meant for Emilio Butragueño was picked up by Jose Mari Bakero and fed to the clearly offside striker – but you don’t get nicknamed The Vulture for passing up easy pickings, and the Real Madrid forward quietly tucked the ball away.
Thirteen minutes later, Rafael Gordillo’s free kick from FullyThirtyYards somehow made its way past a sheepish Rasmussen, and it was all over bar the shouting that accompanied Flemming Povlsen’s cushioned header late-doors.
The game was the high point of the tournament for both teams – neither managed another point or even a goal, as group heavyweights West Germany and Italy went on to semi-final elimination. But each would get their happy ending: the Danes would win Euro 92, while the Spaniards would triumph in 2008 and 2012.