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Euro 2020: England's record in semi-finals

Paul Gascoigne
(Image credit: Getty)

"We won't feel totally satisfied if it's just a semi-final for us," Gareth Southgate said after England beat Ukraine in the last Euro 2020 quarter-final this weekend. And he's a man who knows about semi-finals.

England's adventure to fourth place at the 2018 World Cup was seen as a huge achievement: this time around, the side are expected to go further. The semi-final barrier has halted England on multiple occasions, after all.

Even in 2019, the Three Lions managed to reach the Nations League finals in Portugal, only for Netherlands to win the knockout match. Not even Mike Bassett could venture further than a semi in the film of the same name.

It's 55 years of hurt this year - let's look back across England's record of near-misses in that time.

World Cup 1966: England 2-1 Portugal 

Portugal were said to be angry with the venue of their semi-final changing, as soon as they were up against England. The capacity of Wembley was much bigger than Goodison Park, however, making the decision a no-brainer for ticket sales - much to the chagrin of Eusebio and co, who had to make the long journey down from Merseyside.

Perhaps their heads were elsewhere during the game, as a Bobby Charlton brace fired England into their first-ever major final. It was, however, the last semi that England would win...

Euro 1968: Yugoslavia 1-0 England

Two years after the heroics of '66, Alf Ramsey took his side to Italy to face Yugoslavia in the European Championship, after qualifying for the first time. By combining the results of the 1966/67 and 1967/68 editions of the British Home Championship, the Three Lions set up a quarter-final play-off with Spain, which they won home and away.

Yugoslavia, at this time, were well-thought of. Late drama ensued as Dragan Dzajic gave the Eastern Europeans a 1-0 victory in Florence - though as least England didn't lose by a coin toss, like the Soviet Union in the other semi-final that took place. 

World Cup 1990: West Germany 1-1 England (West Germany win 4-3 on penalties)

England's relationship with Germany on a football field has been defined by two fixtures more than any other; the euphoria of 1966 and the heartbreak of 1990. 

Emotion was already high before the game went to penalties; this was the famous night of Gazza's tears, when the mercurial young talent received a yellow card which would rule him out of the final. In the end, Bobby Robson's men were matched stride for stride by their counterparts, with Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missing their spot-kicks. 

The Germans, as we'd come to know, did not miss when it came to shootouts. 

Euro 96: Germany 1-1 England (Germany win 6-5 on penalties)

Optimism was high, football had come home and Stuart Pearce had beaten his penalty demons. When Alan Shearer gave the grey-shirts the lead within three minutes, England fans dared to dream.

England couldn't turn enact revenge, though. At the time, Gareth Southgate's missed penalty became a symbol of England's failures; their mentality cracking at the vital moment. In the years that have followed, it's since become an icon for how your reaction to failure is the important thing.

Just think: England's recent history could be so different had Southgate had scored that penalty... 

World Cup 2018: Croatia 2-1 England (AET)

A semi-final at a World Cup was a decent result - especially considering England hadn't won a knockout game in 12 years. That Harry Kane took home a Golden Boot, scored a first English World Cup hat-trick since Gary Lineker and the nation united for the summer, made the feeling even better.

Like 96, the 2018 semi-final was not without its giddy optimism, too. Kieran Trippier's sweetly-struck free-kick gave the country hope before Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic turned the tide. It was a performance that England could take a lot of heart from - and one which raised the bar for Euro 2020.