Sunday, 29 May 2016

1984 - European Championships - Qualifying

UEFA decided the expanded format of eight teams for the final stages was a success after 1980.  But this time they also decided to restore the Semi-Final stage, rather than just two group winners contesting the Final.  France was given the tournament to host.  The first time they had hosted a tournament since 1938 when they hosted the 3rd World Cup Finals.


For the qualification stage, thirty-two teams were put into seven groups, four of five teams, and three of four teams.

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

Group 1 saw Scotland come up against the 1980 losing finalists, Belgium.  Both countries had competed in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, which Belgium had advanced to the 2nd phase, beating Argentina, the holders, in their opening match.  The other two teams were East Germany and Switzerland.  Scotland began well with a 2-0 win over East Germany at Hampden Park.   They then suffered defeat in Berne against Switzerland and then two Kenny Dalglish goals saw them lead 2-1 in Belgium, only to eventually lose, 2-3.   Switzerland then arrived in Glasgow and came away with a 2-2 draw. With Belgium winning every game so far, and only the group winners to qualify, it was all over for the Scots.  They were the first team to take points off the Belgians when a Charlie Nicholas goal levelled things at Hampden.  Belgium then lost to Switzerland, but they’d already won the group.  Scotland’s disappointing campaign finished with a poor 1-2 defeat to East Germany, and they finished bottom of the group.

Group 2 included Poland, who finished 3rd in the 1982 World Cup and USSR, who reached the 2nd phase in Spain, losing to Poland.  Portugal and Finland made up the group.  Poland started off away to Finland and were 3-0 up before two late goals gave them a scare.  Portugal then also turned up in Finland and came away with a victory.  Portugal hadn’t qualified for a major tournament since they finished 3rd in 1966.  They pulled off a surprise by beating Poland, 2-1.  Poland then dropped points at home to Finland, and with USSR beating both Finland and Portugal, it looked tough for the Poles.

USSR then drew in Poland and won in Finland, and then completed the Poles misery by winning in Moscow.  With two matches remaining, Portugal travelled to Poland needing to win.  Carlos Manuel got the only goal of the game and Portugal won, 1-0, leaving things finely poised for the final game of the group in Lisbon, between Portugal and USSR.  A draw and USSR were through.  One minute before half-time and Rui Jordao converted the penalty for the only goal of the game.  Portugal had dramatically won the group.

Group 3 saw England drawn against Denmark, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg.  England had a new manager, Bobby Robson and he shook things up by refusing to include England's talisman of the past eight years, Kevin Keegan.  They started nervously with a 2-2 draw in Copenhagen.  Trevor Francis two goals looked to have won it, until Jesper Olsen grabbed a late equaliser.   
Luxembourg were the whipping boys as both Greece and Denmark beat them, before England’s tricky visit to Greece.  Goals from Tony Woodock (2) and Sammy Lee gave England an impressive, 3-0 win.   They followed this with a thumping of Luxembourg, 9-0 when Luther Blissett scored a hat-trick on his debut.   Hungary, who England had met in the qualifying group for the 1982 World Cup, then beat Luxembourg, 6-2 both at home and away.  In between this, England dropped crucial points as Greece came to Wembley and walked off with a 0-0 draw.   England then beat Hungary, 2-0 at Wembley.   When Greece won in Hungary and then Denmark beat them too, it all came down to the match at Wembley between England and Denmark.  England were wasteful and Allan Simonsen converted a penalty that proved to be the only goal.  Denmark had beaten England for the first time and now held control of the group.

England’s hopes were raised when Denmark lost, 0-1 in Hungary, but they needed Greece to beat them too.  Goals from Preben Elkjaer and Simonsen gave Denmark a 2-0 win and they’d won the group.  Not even a 4-0 win for England in Luxembourg was enough and having qualified for the last two major international tournaments, England would again have a summer off.  Denmark had qualified, for only their 2nd major tournament, having finished 4th in the Euros in 1964.

Group 4 contained Wales who were drawn against Bulgaria, Norway and Yugoslavia.  They began with an Ian Rush goal winning the game at home to Norway.  Norway then beat Yugoslavia, and drew in Bulgaria.  Yugoslavia then won in Bulgaria before hosting the Welsh.  A cracking game saw Brian Flynn put Wales in front early on, but then 2 goals in 3 minutes saw the Yugoslavs lead 2-1.  When Niko Kranjcar’s Dad extended the lead just before half-time the Welsh had cause to be concerned.  But then Ian Rush got a goal back almost immediately, and they trailed 2-3 at the break.  Jesic then added a 4th for the Yugoslavs, before Joey Jones and Robbie James levelled things for Wales.  The game ended 4-4, one to be remembered for a long time.   Jeremy Charles scored the only goal to be Bulgaria and then Wales gained a good 0-0 draw in Oslo. 

At this point, Wales were top of the group, 2pts clear of Norway and 3pts clear of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.  Yugoslavia then beat Norway to move into 2nd.  Wales then travelled to Sofia, knowing victory would go a long way to qualifying them.  Unfortunately, Rusi Gochev got the only goal and Wales suffered their first and only defeat of the campaign.  They could redeem themselves if they beat Yugoslavia at Cardiff.   Robbie James gave them a first-half lead, and they held it until the last 10 minutes when Bazdarevic grabbed a late equaliser and Wales had missed another opportunity.  The final game in the group was in Split as Yugoslavia took on Bulgaria.  The Yugoslavs had to win as their goal difference was inferior to Wales and so a draw would see the Welsh go through.

Bulgaria scored first, but then Safet Susic grabbed an equaliser immediately.  Susic scored again early in the second half but then Georgi Dimitrov equalised.  The 90 minutes were up and Wales were getting ready to celebrate, but then Radanovic headed a very late winner and Yugoslavia had pipped the Welsh for qualification.

Group 5 contained the World Champions, Italy, along with Czechoslovakia, Romania, Sweden and Cyprus.  Italy were expected to cruise through as only the Czechs had competed in the ’82 World Cup and the ’80 Euros.  Romania got off to a great start beating Cyprus and Sweden.  Czechoslovakia and Sweden played out a 2-2 as Sweden scored 2 goals in the last 3 minutes to gain a point.  Italy’s first outing was in Milan against the Czechs, but they were disappointing in a 2-2 draw.  Italy were at home again, in Florence when Romania were the opponents, but were again disappointing in a 0-0 draw.  In February 1983, Italy travelled to Cyprus to gain their first victory of the campaign.  It didn’t turn out that way as they needed an equaliser from Graziani to gain a point.  Three games, three draws for the World Champions.  Cyprus then took points off the Czechs as well and the group was wide open.  In the return, Czechoslovakia thumped Cyprus, 6-0.  On the same day, Italy travelled to Bucharest, but Boloni scored the only goal of the game and Romania won, 1-0.  Italy were still winless from 4 matches, and 4pts behind the leaders, Romania.

The Czechs then swung things their way by beating Romania in Bucharest.  At the end of May 1983, Italy were in Stockholm to try and get their campaign going.  Eriksson and Corneliusson scored for the home side and Italy had lost again.  They would now need to win their last three matches, and that still might not be enough.  The group continued to ebb and flow as Romania beat Sweden, who then beat Czechoslovakia.  Sweden topped the group from Romania on goal difference, with Czechoslovakia 2pts behind.  Both Romania and the Czechs had a game in hand.

Sweden’s final match was in Naples.  Italy needed to win, and overturn a goal difference of -9.  After 20 minutes Glenn Stromberg put the visitors in front, and when he doubled the lead 7 minutes later the home fans were distraught.  Italy would now need a miracle.  It didn’t happen and Sunesson gave Sweden a famous 3-0 win.   Italy, the World Champions, were eliminated.  They had not won in their six matches.  Romania then won in Cyprus to move level on points with Sweden.  The Czechs, who would need to win their last 2 matches, then met Italy in Prague.  Petr Rada scored twice to heap more embarrassment on Italy as they won, 2-0.  The game between Romania and Czechoslovakia would decide the group.  The Czechs needed to win, the Romanians just needed a draw.  Geolgau gave Romania the lead, eight minutes from the end, Luhovy equalised but it wasn’t enough for the home side and Romania had won the group.  Italy finally picked up a win when they beat Cyprus, 3-1, but this was one of their worst ever qualification campaigns.

Group 6 had Northern Ireland up against European Champions, West Germany, along with Austria, Albania and Turkey.  Northern Ireland had reached the 2nd phase in Spain ’82, as had Austria.  West Germany were losing finalists in Spain.  The Austrians flew out of the blocks with wins over Albania (5-0) and Turkey (4-0).  They also beat the Irish, 2-0 in Vienna with two goals from Walter Schachner.  In November 1982, West Germany arrived at Windsor Park.  18 minutes in and Ian Stewart scored, and this proved to be the only goal of the game.   A famous win and Northern Ireland’s bid was now back on track.  All that good work was then ruined when they couldn’t beat Albania in Tirana (0-0). 

Into 1983 and the Irish beat Turkey, 2-1, and Albania, 1-0 at home.  The Germans had recovered their form against the same opponents, but then were held to a 0-0 draw in Vienna.  Northern Ireland then welcomed group leaders, Austria to Windsor Park.  Goals from Billy Hamilton, Norman Whiteside and Martin O’Neill, gave them a 3-1 win.  Austria still lead the group, but only on goal difference from the Irish.  Austria were then beaten in Germany too.  Northern Ireland then missed their chance to take a real hold on the group as they lost 0-1 in Turkey.  Two goals each from Rudi Voller and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge helped the Germans see off Turkey, 5-1.  That win took the Germans to the top of the group for the first time, with 3 teams on 9pts.  16th November 1983 was a significant day for the group.  Austria were in Turkey and Northern Ireland travelled to Hamburg.  In Istanbul, Turkey put paid to Austria’s chances with a 3-1 win.  Norman Whiteside scored the only goal in Hamburg and the Irish had beaten West Germany, 1-0 to pull off a famous double.  The group all hinged on the final game as West Germany were at home to Albania.  The Germans just needed to win, as their goal difference was far superior to Northern Ireland’s.  Remarkably, Tomori gave Albania the lead in the first half, but within a minute, Rummenigge had scored his 7th goal of the campaign.  Things stayed like that going into the final 10 minutes as the Irish hoped and prayed for no more goals.  Gerhard Strack broke Irish hearts with a late winner for the Germans.  It proved to be his only international goal, and West Germany won 2-1 to win the group on goal difference.

Group 7 contained Spain, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Malta.  Spain had disappointed in the ’82 World Cup, and none of the other countries qualified.  The Dutch were surprisingly held to a draw in Iceland.  They then got their campaign underway by beating the Irish, 2-1.  Both Ireland and Spain beat Iceland, before the two met in Dublin.  Ashley Grimes put the Irish in front after just 2 minutes, but by the hour Spain were 3-1 up.  Frank Stapleton then scored twice and Ireland had gained an impressive draw.  After the Dutch thrashed Malta, 6-0 the big game of the group came in February 1983 in Seville as Spain took on Netherlands.  The only goal of the game came just before the break when Senor converted a penalty and the Spanish had the advantage.

Spain then beat Ireland at home and then won away at the two minnows of the group, Iceland and Malta.  Although, they only beat them by one goal each time and that could be significant if goal difference determines the winner.  To illustrate this, Netherlands then beat Iceland, 3-0.  In October in Dublin, the Dutch turned up and Ireland raced to a 2-0 lead in the first 35 minutes.  Gary Waddock and a Liam Brady penalty gave the Irish a dream start.  But in the second half, the Dutch came out a different side and two goals from Ruud Gullit and one from Marco Van Basten gave Netherlands a valuable 3-2 win.  Netherlands and Spain then met in Rotterdam.  After this game both countries had Malta to play, so a win for Spain would ensure their qualification, but a win for Netherlands and they could win the group on goal difference.  Peter Houtman put the home side in front midway through the first half.  Carlos Santillana then equalised just before half-time.  Midway through the second half and Ruud Gullit scored, what proved to be, the winner.   Now it would be down to how many goals each side could score against Malta.  The Irish then beat Malta, 8-0 when Mark Lawrenson helped himself to 2 goals.  Netherlands were first up, beating Malta 5-0.  Frank Rijjkaard scored twice, with his 2nd coming in injury time and could prove significant.  Netherlands looked to have done more than enough to qualify, they had a goal difference of +16, scoring 24 goals.  Spain’s goal difference was just +5, so for Spain to overhaul them, they needed to win by 11 goals.  Only 25,000 turned up in Seville, a measure of how slim the Spanish public thought their chances were. 

Santillana scored after 16 minutes.  But then Degiorgio equalised for Malta and this spelt disaster.  Two minutes later, Santillana scored again and then completed his hat-trick inside the opening half-hour.  3-1 to Spain was the half-time score and qualification seemed a world away.  Poli Rincon then made it 4-1 early in the second half.  6 minutes later and Rincon scored again.  Then during a crazy three minutes, Maceda scored twice and Rincon completed his hat-trick.  25 minutes to go and Spain lead 8-1.  Into the last 15 minutes and Santillana popped up with his 4th goal of the night, which was matched 2 minutes later as Rincon scored his 4th.  10-1 and Spain still needed to score twice more.  Manuel Sarabia then scored with 10 minutes to go, and then Senor scored the magic 12th goal.  Spain had pulled off the unbelievable and won 12-1.  They had matched Netherlands goal difference but went through by virtue of having scored more goals.  

So qualification was complete.  France, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Romania, West Germany and Spain.

Would the finals be all that good, though, without World Champions, Italy, or Poland, who were 3rd in Spain?  Not to mention England or Netherlands?

No comments:

Post a Comment