Tuesday, 17 May 2016

1980 European Championships - Qualifying

After tournaments where just four teams competed in the ‘final’ section, UEFA decided to make something more of this competition and in 1980 opened it up to 8 qualifiers.  The other change was that they already decided the hosts in advance.  In previous tournaments they chose the hosts once they knew the four qualifiers.

Italy was chosen to host the 1980 tournament.  They had last hosted a major tournament in 1934, the 2nd World Cup, in which they came out as winners.


31 nations were split into seven groups; three groups of five and four groups of four.  The qualifying campaign kicked off from May 1978.  Back in those days there was no such thing as an international calendar, and so some groups ended before others, as countries just arranged fixtures independently.

GROUP ONE:  England, Bulgaria, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland
GROUP TWO: Austria, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, Scotland
GROUP THREE: Cyprus, Romania, Spain, Yugoslavia
GROUP FOUR: East Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland
GROUP FIVE: Czechoslovakia, France, Luxembourg, Sweden
GROUP SIX: Finland, Greece, Hungary, USSR
GROUP SEVEN: Malta, Turkey, Wales, West Germany


England had been drawn in Group 1 along with both Northern and Republic of Ireland.  Bulgaria and Denmark made up the other two.  The Republic started off by giving up a 3-1 lead to be held 3-3 in Copenhagen, before they met their neighbours in Dublin.  The much anticipated clash between North and South, the first time the two nations had met, contained few highlights and the game ended 0-0.

That same night in Copenhagen, Denmark and England played out a completely different match.  Denmark were regarded as one of Europe’s minnows, having never qualified for a major tournament before.  Kevin Keegan put England in front after seventeen minutes.  Six minutes later he grabbed his second, just before Allan Simonsen scored from the spot to put the home side back in it.  Then three minutes later Frank Arnesen equalised and so the teams were level, 2-2 at half-time.  Five minutes after the break, Bob Latchford restored England’s lead.  With just five minutes left on the clock, Phil Neal then gave England their two-goal advantage back, before Per Rontved ensured a nervy last few minutes for England as Denmark brought it back to 3-4.  England would eventually emerge with the victory, but it had been close.
England then drew in Dublin, as Northern Ireland beat both Denmark and Bulgaria, before they arrived at Wembley full of hope.   Manager Danny Blanchflower chose an Irish side exclusively drawn from the English First Division.  But England proved too strong and ran out 4-0 winners.   England went on to win their remaining group matches, conceding just once.  They won 3-0 in Sofia, beat Denmark, 1-0 at Wembley and went to Belfast and thumped Northern Ireland, 5-1.  When they beat Bulgaria, 2-0 at Wembley in November 1979 one of the goals came from a debutant named Glenn Hoddle.   England’s final group match was another 2-0 win, over the Republic in February 1980 as Kevin Keegan scored twice to take his tally to seven in the qualifying matches.  His second goal in the game is well worth watching.  He picks the ball up just inside the Irish half, runs at the defence who are backing off.  As he reaches the edge of the area, he delicately chips the stranded keeper.


Scotland were drawn in Group Two and fancied their chances as they and Austria were the only two sides who had also been at the World Cup in Argentina.  Austria began with a 2-0 win in Norway and then Scotland arrived in Vienna for one of the games expected to decide the outcome of the group.  Austria were 3-0 up midway through the second half with goals from Pezzey, Kreuz and Schachner.  Scotland looked down and out but then Gordon McQueen soon got a goal back and then Andy Gray gave them hope with twelve minutes to go, but in the end Austria won 3-2.  

Belgium began with two draws at home to Norway and then in Portugal, coming from behind in both matches.  At the end of October Norway arrived at Hampden Park and Einar Aas gave them an early lead before Kenny Dalglish equalised.  Arne Okland put the visitors back in front and with ten minutes to go Scotland were staring down the gun of an embarrassing home defeat.  But up stepped Dalglish and Archie Gemmill and the Scots turned things around with a 3-2.

Portugal then arrived in Vienna and a last minute goal from Albert Fonseca gave them a wonderful 2-1 win to turn things upside down in the group.  Two weeks later Portugal completed an excellent November for them when Fonseca was again on strike with the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Scotland.  By then end of 1978 Scotland had already lost twice and Portugal seemed to be the form team.

Belgium and Austria then fought out two draws, one with goals the other without.  Austria were back on top of the group with Belgium having drawn all their four matches thus far.  During the summer Norway had back-to-back home matches but lost both.  Portugal won 1-0 and then Scotland turned up and Joe Jordan, Kenny Dalglish and John Robertson had put them three goals up at the break.  Gordon McQueen completed the scoring for a 4-0 win.

The new season began with Austria putting four past Norway and then Belgium came from behind to register their first win the group.  17th October proved a pivotal date for the group as goals from van Moer and Frankie van der Elst gave Belgium another win when they beat Portugal 2-0.  Hans Krankl put Austria in front at Hampden Park before Archie Gemmill rescued a point for Scotland.  Austria lead the group from Belgium, a point behind and then Portugal a further point back.  Scotland now needed snookers.

Nene then scored twice as Portugal beat Norway 3-1, to put them level on points at the top with Austria and they had a game in hand.  Those two would then meet in Lisbon on 21st November.  Kurt Welzl put the Austrians in front but Correira equalised five minutes later.  Then six minutes into the second half and Walter Schachner scored what proved to be, the winner.  On the same night van der Elst and Eddy Voordeckers gave Austria a 2-0 win over Scotland.  Belgium were now in a prominent position just a point behind Austria who had played all their eight matches.  Belgium had a trip to Hampden Park to negotiate to try and win the group.  Scotland’s qualification hopes had now disappeared.

Just before Christmas 1979 Belgium were the visitors to Hampden Park.  Rene Vandenbergh gave the visitors the lead on eighteen minutes and then Frankie van der Elst scored a double in five minutes and the match was over.  John Robertson scored in the second half but Belgium had won 3-1 and therefore qualified for a major tournament for the first time since 1972. 

All that was left was Scotland beating Portugal, 4-1.  Dalglish and Andy Gray scored in the first half with Steve Archibald and an Archie Gemmill penalty completing the win.  Overall Scotland were disappointing but their campaign ended well, at least.


Spain were the favourites for Group Three and began with a 2-1 win over Yugoslavia with goals from Juanito and Santillana before Halilhodzic got one back for the home side.  Yugoslavia then had another dent in their hopes of qualification when they travelled to Bucharest and were beaten 1-2 by Romania.  They were a goal up but then three goals in thirteen second half minutes won the game for the home side.  In November, Spain beat Romania 1-0 when Asensi’s early goal was enough.  When Cyprus made their first appearance in the group, in Valencia, Spain thumped them 5-0 and took control of the group.

After Yugoslavia had beaten Cyprus, Spain slipped up for the first time when they were held to a 2-2 draw in Romania.  But instead of taking advantage, Romania then couldn’t get passed Cyprus in Limassol and were held to a 1-1 draw.  Spain had the chance to wrap up the group when Yugoslavia were the visitors but Ivica Surjak scored after just five minutes and the home side had no answer.  So having started perfectly, Spain had just dropped three points from two matches and still had work to do.

Yugoslavia then won back-to-back matches against Romania and Cyprus to send them top of the group with just one match to be played.  That was Spain’s trip to Limassol.  If they won they’d win the group and book their place to Italy.  Angel Villar, currently a member of FIFA’s executive, scored the opening goal and then Real Madrid’s Carlos Santillana made it 2-0.  Cyprus got a goal back but when Enrique Saura completed the scoring for a 3-1 win Spain had won the group to qualify for the Finals.


Group Four had Netherlands, fresh from their extra time defeat to Argentina in the World Cup Final as well as Poland who also made the Second Round in World Cup 1978. 

The whipping boys in the group were always going to be Switzerland and Iceland.  So it was, as Netherlands, Poland and East Germany all beat Iceland with the Poles and Dutch beat Switzerland too.  Netherlands first test came at home to East Germany when two goals from Ruud Geels saw them run out 3-0 winners.  They then beat Switzerland by the same score the following March and were definitely dangerous towards the end of games as four of their last nine goals had come in the final five minutes of matches. 

Their qualification hopes received a boost when Poland lost in Leipzig.  Boniek gave them an early lead but two goals in four second half minutes from Streich and Lindemann gave East Germany a crucial 2-1 win.  But just two weeks later Poland were able to turn things around when Boniek and Mazur helped them beat Netherlands 2-0 in Chorzow.  Three days later East Germany won in Switzerland and suddenly the top three were separated by 2pts with Poland and East Germany having a game in hand on the Dutch.

September was a big month for this group with the top three all in action.  Netherlands went to Iceland and won 4-0 with goals from Willy van der Kerkhof, Johnny Metgod and two from Dirk Nanninga.  A week later East Germany also won in Iceland and Poland won in Switzerland.  Things were getting interesting with the Dutch having to take on the two nations challenging them for the group win in their final two matches.  At the end of September those two sides met in Chorzow.  Reinhard Hafner put East Germany in front just after the hour but into the final quarter of an hour, Henryk Wieczorek equalised.  The game ended 1-1 and now the Dutch were back in the driving seat.

Poland then beat Iceland 2-0 to go top of the group but had to travel to Amsterdam for their final game.  East Germany then thrashed Iceland 5-2 to move into second place and push the Dutch down to third.  Magdeburg’s Martin Hoffman hit a hat-trick to give them a great chance of qualification.
The group was finely poised with just two matches to go and the three sides in contention were all involved.  Netherlands were at home to Poland and then travelled to East Germany.  A win for the Poles in Amsterdam would mean the Germans would have to do the same in Leipzig and hope goal difference would be enough.  Poland’s goal difference was just one better than the East Germans.  The Poles knew that even a draw against the Dutch would not be enough, because even a draw between the East Germans and the Dutch would see the Dutch go through on goal difference.  If the East Germans beat the Dutch then they would top the group. 

Wojciech Rudy scored for Poland in the fourth minute to give the visitors a crucial lead and it took the Dutch an hour to equalise when PSV right-back, Huub Stevens grabbed a vital goal.  The game ended 1-1 and the Poles were out.  Netherlands now just needed a draw in Leipzig to go through and whoever won the game would definitely be in Italy in the summer.

The Germans struck first Rudiger Schnuphase of Carl Zeiss Jena gave them the lead after seventeen minutes.  Then in the thirty-third minute Joachim Streich, who ended his career as East Germany’d top goalscorer, converted a penalty and the Dutch were staring down the barrel.  But right on half-time, Ipswich’s Frans Thijssen got a goal back but East Germany lead at the break.  Five minutes into the second half and Kees Kist levelled things and then into the final quarter of the match and Willy van der Kerkhof scored for Netherlands who went onto win 3-2 and qualify for the Finals.


Back in these days the holders of the European Championships still had to qualify to defend their title and so Czechoslovakia, famous winners over the West Germans in 1976, were put into the same group as France who had been at Argentina ’78.  Sweden had also qualified for that tournament and so the Czechs had quite a test on their hands.  With Luxembourg making up the four then goal difference was expected to be important too.

Home wins were clearly going to be important and when the French came from a goal down to lead against Sweden in Paris they must’ve been confident but Per Gronhagen scored in the last minute for a 2-2 draw.  A month later, Sweden were again in front at home to Czechoslovakia but the Czechs fought back to win comfortably, 3-1 to give themselves a crucial advantage.

France then won home and away against Luxembourg before a vital trip to Bratislava.  After a goalless first half the deadlock was broken by a Panenka penalty before Stambachr doubled the lead just five minutes later.  Czechoslovakia won 2-0 and France had now dropped vital points against both their rivals.

The Swedes and the Czechs both beat Luxembourg 3-0 before Sweden took on France in Stockholm.  Level at the break, Platini and Battiston scored in the second half to give France an important 3-1 victory and virtually put paid to Sweden’s qualification hopes.  A month later they were definitely out when they met the Czechs in Prague and were thrashed.  Ladislav Vizek scored twice in a 4-1 win for Czechoslovakia, who now had four wins from four matches.  If only to illustrate the plight of the Swedes, Luxembourg pulled off one of their greatest results in international football with a 1-1 draw in Esch.

Czechoslovakia were in control of the group knowing they could afford defeat in Paris as their final match was at home to Luxembourg.  And so it occurred, as France won 2-1 and then Czechoslovakia swept aside Luxembourg, 4-1 to win the group.


Hungary were the fancied team in this group, having competed in the last World Cup, although USSR weren’t to be underestimated with their decent record in this competition.

The two unfancied teams, Finland and Greece, opened things up in Helsinki and the Finns were impressive with Atik Ismail scoring twice in a 3-0 win.  That match took place before the World Cup in Argentina but after that tournament was finished Finland then played host to Hungary.  The Hungarians had lost all three matches in Argentina and started this campaign with a defeat as Finland won 2-1 with Ismail again on target.  On the same night, USSR kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 win over Greece, with goals in each half from Chesnokov and Bessanov.  The Greeks had begun with two defeats, not a great start.

A month later and another two games kicked off on the same night and this time a complete reversal of fortunes so far.  Hungary, having been beaten in Helsinki, turned things around with a 2-0 win over USSR, who’d beaten Greece a month earlier.  In Athens Greece were at home for the first time in the group having lost their opening two matches, and produced the result of the campaign as they spanked Finland 8-1.  Takis Nikoloudis opened the scoring after fifteen minutes, Greece’s first goal of the group.  Georgios Delikaris then made it 2-0 eight minutes later, before Nikoloudis scored again almost immediately.  AEK Athens striker, Thomas Mavros then scored twice in six minutes just before the break as Greece went in five goals to the good.  Delikaris scored his second soon after the break, before Finland got a goal back.  Then Mavros completed his hat-trick from the spot before Galakos completed the scoring and Greece had won 8-1 against a side they’d been beaten 0-3 by just six months before.

October was a great month for the Greeks as they then entertained Hungary in Salonika and Galakos helped himself to two more goals in a 4-1 win.  Suddenly they were now top of the group.  The return fixture was played in the following May and the two sides played out a goalless draw.  Two weeks later Hungary had another draw as they went to Tblisi and drew 2-2 with USSR, having been 2-1 up.  Things were now very tight in the table with all four sides in with a chance of winning it.

At the beginning of July Finland and USSR both squandered their chance to gain an advantage as they played out a 1-1 draw in Helsinki.  One point now separated all four countries with Greece having played a game more than the others.

In September Greece took on USSR in Athens for their final qualifying match.  Takis Nikoloudis gave them an early lead in the first ten minutes and that proved the only goal of the game.  The 1-0 win meant USSR and Hungary were out and the final two matches were the opportunity for Finland to try and overhaul the Greeks.  Neither Finland or Greece had ever qualified for a major tournament but Finland were away in both games.

Into October and the final month for the group.  In Debrecen, Hungary opened the scoring against Finland when Laszlo Fekete put them in front after eleven minutes and then doubled the lead as half-time loomed.  Miikka Toivola got a goal back for Finland just before the break but they really needed to win one of these two matches.  The only goal of the second half went to the home side as Gyorgy Tatar gave Hungary a 3-1 victory.

Finland now went to Moscow for the final game of the group needing by eleven clear goals.  In the end they drew 2-2 and Greece had now qualified for a major international tournament for the first time.  It had been a closely fought competition but with Finland winning their first two matches and Greece losing their first two, things turned around pretty quickly


West German were the overwhelming favourites for this group.  They won the Euros in 1972 and were losing finalists four years later, and of course became World Champions in between.  Turkey, Wales and Malta appeared to be just making up the numbers.

Wales begun with a thumping 7-0 win against Malta in Wrexham as Ian Edwards scored four on his home ground.  Peter O’Sullivan, Mickey Thomas and Brian Flynn were also on the scoresheet.   A month later things got even better for the Welsh as Nick Deacy’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Turkey, again at Wrexham.  West Germany’s first outing was in Gzira to take on Malta.  Everyone was expecting a cricket score yet the little islanders pulled off a famous result, holding the former World Champions to a 0-0 draw. 

Turkey then beat Malta, 2-1 before they took on West Germany in Izmir.  Again the West Germans were profligate in front of goal to register another 0-0 draw.  Wales then met West Germany in Wrexham, having won both their opening matches with the Germans drawing both of theirs.  Herbert Zimmermann gave the visitors a first half lead and then Klaus Fischer doubled it just after the break and West Germany had their first win of the group, 2-0.  Wales then travelled to Malta and did what the Germans weren’t able to, and won 2-0 with goals from Peter Nicholas and Brian Flynn. 

In October the top two in the group met in Cologne.  Wales hopes of qualification lay in having to win in West Germany and Turkey.  Things began badly for them when Fischer put the home side up in the twenty-first minute and then got steadily worse.  Manny Kaltz made it 2-0 just ten minutes later before Fischer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge put them further ahead at the break.  Karl-Heinz Forster made it five before Alan Curtis scored no more than a consolation for Wales and West Germany ran out 5-1 winners.

The battle for qualification now looked to be between Turkey and West Germany and the Turks did their chances no harm in winning in 2-1 Malta, and then Erhan Onal’s goal ten minutes from time saw Turkey beat Wales 1-0 in Izmir.  Turkey had hit the top of the group now, knowing if they could win in Gelsenkirchen they would be through.  Three days before Christmas and West Germany took the lead through Fischer, who’d scored four of their eight goals in the campaign thus far.  That was the only goal of the game until Zimmermann scored the second for the West Germans who won 2-0.

We had to wait until the end of February before the group was completed.  West Germany were already through and turned on the style beating Malta, 8-0.  Klaus Allofs scored twice, as did Klaus Fischer to give him six for the campaign.  In the end West Germany won the group quite comfortably.


Italy, England, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Greece, West Germany

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