Matchday 6 – Friday, 14th June 1996
GROUP D, City Ground, Nottingham, 22,670
PORTUGAL (0) 1 (Couto 66)
TURKEY (0) 0
PORTUGAL: Baia; Paulinho, Couto, Helder, Dimas; Paulo Sousa, Sa Pinto (Cadete), Folha (Tavares); Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Joao Pinto (Hugo Porfirio)
TURKEY: Rustu; Cetin, Alpay, Vedat, Ogun (Rahim); Oguz (Erdem), Tugay, Yalcin, Ercan; Sukur, Sancakli (Tolunay)
Turkey were at their first Euros and were unlucky to have lost to a late goal against Croatia. They made three changes for the match against Portugal. Out went Zafar, Tolunay and Erdem. In came Recep, Sancakli and the captain, Oguz Cetin.
Portugal, who’d drawn against defending champions Denmark, made just one change. Oceano made way for the man who’d come on a sub for him in the first match. Folha.
The first half contained few chances, but the best fell to Turkey’s top scorer, Hakan Sukur. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quick enough to react sufficiently to a ball which fell at his feet unexpectedly. Sa Pinto clipped a shot wide when he should’ve done better.
In the second half, Portugal were a little more fluent. They’d given a good account of themselves in their first match against Denmark but seemed a little off the mark in this game. Midway through the half, the game turned. Sa Pinto played the ball into the area, but the Turkish defence thought they’d dealt with it. The ball fell to Fernando Couto who sliced his shot, but not too much to beat Rustu for the only goal of the game.
Turkey hadn’t embarrassed themselves in either game but had been beaten twice without scoring. For Portugal, the win meant they were almost into the next phase.
GROUP C, Anfield, Liverpool, 37,320
CZECH REPUBLIC (2) 2 (Nedved 5, Bejbl 35)
ITALY (1) 1 (Chiesa 18)
CZECH REPUBLIC: Kouba; Latal (Nemecek), Kadlec, Hornak, Suchoparek; Nemec, Poborsky, Nedved, Bejbl, Berger (Smicer); Kuka
ITALY: Peruzzi; Mussi, Costacurta, Apolloni, Maldini; Fuser; Baggio (Carboni), Albertini; Donadoni; Ravanelli (Casiraghi), Chiesa (Zola)
In Group C, the two favourites, Italy and Germany both won their opening matches. The Czechs had looked good in qualifying but now arrived at Anfield knowing anything other than a win could seal their exit from the tournament.
They made one change. Martin Frydek made way for Patrick Berger, who’d come on as a sub for him against the Germans.
Despite their win at Anfield, the Italian camp wasn’t a settled one. Coach Arrigo Sacchi seemed to be at odds with the media back home who were in disagreement over the choices open to him, particularly in attack. Some wanted Ravanelli, some Chiesa, others were keen on the 21-year-old Del Piero. For the game against Russia, he plumped for Casiraghi and Zola. For this match, the press had their wish and Ravanelli and Chiesa got the nod. In all, he made five changes for this match with Di Matteo, Di Livio, Casiraghi, Zola, Del Piero dropping down to the bench. Ravanelli, Chiesa, Dino Baggio, Donadoni and Fuser coming in.
The game was only five minutes old when the Czechs had a dream start. Karel Poborsky crossed left-footed from the right-wing. The Italian defence stood and watched, and young Pavel Nedved nipped in and put the ball past Peruzzi for his first goal for his country.
The Czechs wouldn’t let Italy settle, but eventually, they were able to break free. 18 minutes in and a counterattack saw Chiesa break clear. He laid the ball off for Fuser down the right. The Lazio player then returned the ball to Chiesa who struck it home for the equaliser. This game was very much on.
Nedved very nearly scored again from another lovely ball from Poborsky but slipped at the vital moment. Then came a moment of madness from Luigi Apolloni. Already booked for a challenge on Kuka, the Parma defender then came through the back of the Czech striker when there was little danger and the ref sent him off.
Barely five minutes later and the Italian’s position was compounded as they were behind again. Kuka crossed from the right and Bejbl arrived unmarked to steer it past Peruzzi. The Czechs lead 2-1.
Still, the Czechs wouldn’t settle for their lead. Berger and Poborsky continued to cause problems as the Italians just couldn’t get any grip on the game.
In the second half, the Italians threw everything at their opponents. Sacchi threw on Casiraghi and Zola. Chiesa went really close with a first-time volley after a throw-in. As the game headed for a conclusion, Poborsky had a golden chance to finish it, but Peruzzi saved.
Then, in injury time, Zola set up a great chance for Casiraghi who chested it down then fired it over the bar from about eight yards. In the end, the Czechs won, which was a huge surprise and threw the group wide open.