After 31 games in three weeks, there are a lot of great memories from UEFA Euro 2012. There were great goals, great saves, and plenty of near misses. Here are some of the most memorable highs and lows and indelible impressions from the tournament – tell us what your favourite moment was using the Your Call feature at the bottom of the page.
Spain showed their class throughout the tournament, but was most impressive in the Final, thumping Italy 4-0 in a game that was never in doubt. It was the third straight major championship for Spain, which entered the tournament as the reigning World and European champions. After giving up a single goal in its opening match, Spain didn't allow another goal the rest of the way.
His three goals tied for the tournament lead, but the enigmatic Italian striker was at his best in the semi-final, potting two brilliant goals to beat favoured Germany 2-1. His first strike was a classy header from above the German defence, and his second was an absolute rocket into the top corner that both stunned and sunk the Germans.
Portugal was eliminated in the semi-finals by the eventual champs, falling 4-2 on penalties. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world and the man who was supposed to express his dominance on the European stage in 2012, never got a chance to kick in the crucial shoot-out. As Portugal's fifth shooter, he was left muttering and cursing after Bruno Alves hit the crossbar, giving Fabregas a chance to win it for the Spanairds. Fabregas made no mistake, and many Portguese fans were left to wonder if coach Paulo Bento had made a tactical error in leaving his star striker in the fifth spot.
The Ashley Twins
England made a dream run in the tournament, surprising observers by winning Group D through seven points. After drawing 0-0 with Italy through extra time in the quarterfinals, the English took a 2-1 lead on penalties. It looked like England was going to pull off the upset, but then Ashley Young hit the crossbar and Ashley Cole was stopped by Gianluigi Buffon, and just like that, the dream was dead.
The Group of Death Kills Holland
Group B was labeled the Group of Death after four teams ranked in the world's top ten were drawn together: The Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Denmark. Despite the stiff competition, many predicted Holland would emerge as tournament champions. Instead, they opened with a loss to Denmark and followed with a loss to the Germans. Still, the Group was so close that Holland had a chance to advance – until they lost to Portugal. Not only had the Netherlands failed to win the tournament, they didn't win a game or even win a point.
Calls for instant replay grew loud after Ukraine was denied a goal against England. Replays indicated the goal should have counted, and it would have propelled Ukraine into the knockout phase. Instead, the co-hosts failed to advance. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the use of goal-line technology was “no longer an alternative but a necessity.” The cries came too late for Ukraine, though, as France claimed the second spot in Group D thanks to the missed goal.
The Fields of Athenry
Ireland was clearly out-classed on the pitch, but not in the stands. Its fans were given a special UEFA award for showing such brilliant support, with the highlight being an emotional rendition of “The Fields of Athenry” put forth by the fans after their Irish were about to lose their third and final game.
What were your favourite moments? Use the Your Call feature below to let us know!