Euro ’76 : Fireworks In First-Ever Penalty Kick Shootout


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With West Germany goalkeeper SEPP MAIER (1) of Bayern Munich having already started to his left, Czechoslovakia midfielder ANTONIN PANENKA of Bohemians Prague cheekily chips the ball straight down the center slowly to net the winning penalty kick in the unprecedented shootout which decided the Final of the 1976 UEFA European Championships at the Stadion Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
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1972 European and 1974 World Cup champion WEST GERMANY were finally dethroned by upstart CZECHOSLOVAKIA in the Final of the 1976 UEFA European Championship in Belgrade, but not before dramatically equalizing and engaging in the very first penalty kick shootout history had ever seen at a major international competition.

Czechoslovakia had certainly earned the right to face West Germany in the Final having first defeated the beaten Euro ’72 finalist (Soviet Union) over two legs in the quarterfinal and then dumped out the runners-up at the ’74 World Cup (Holland) after extra time in the semi-final at Euro ’76 in Yugoslavia. The star was 23-year-old striker ZDENEK NEHODA of army club Dukla Prague, who stands forever as the most capped player having made 90 appearances for the national team of Czechoslovakia in his career. It had been Nehoda’s strike in the 114th minute of the semi-final that had doomed the Dutch.

The surging Czechoslovaks stormed to the lead against West Germany in the Final in only the eighth minute of play. A good shot from Slovan Bratislava’s defender KOLOMAN GOGH was parried away by experienced goalkeeper SEPP MAIER of three-time defending European Cup champion Bayern Munich but the opportunistic Nehoda, following up on the right, collected the rebound and smartly squared for on-rushing JAN SVEHLIK. The 26-year-old Slovan Bratislava striker, who only ever did score four goals on his 17 career international appearances for Czechoslovakia, had no trouble finding the empty net at the back post.

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National team captains clash as Spartak Trnava defender KAROL DOBIAS, who scored Czechoslovakia’s second goal of the match in Belgrade, slides in to tackle the ball away from Bayern Munich sweeper FRANZ BECKENBAUER, the current three-times consecutive European Cup titlist who was making his 100th appearance for West Germany in the contest, during the dramatic Final of the 1976 UEFA European Champioships at the Stadion Cervena Zvezda.
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The underdogs added a second not even a half hour in when Czechoslovakia captain KAROL DOBIAS of Spartak Trnava gathered a poorly-cleared ball at the top of the box and rifled a low, left-footer into the corner past Maier. This turn of events appeared to awaken West Germany, however, who had also fallen behind host nation Yugoslavia by two goals early on in the semi-final before bouncing back to win 4-2 after extra time. Within three minutes, the West Germans would pull one back.

Creative midfielder RAINER BONHOF of Bundesliga champion Borussia Moenchengladbach flighted a beautiful cross and 1.FC Koeln striker DIETER MUELLER, the replacement for the legendary der Bomber who had scored the last three West German goals in the semi-final, struck a brilliant side-volley past helpless Czechoslovakia goalkeeper IVO VIKTOR of army club Dukla Prague in the 28th minute. This fortified the tournament’s defending champions and current World Cup holders, who went in search of a tying goal only to find Viktor in what was later described as “the form of his life”. It would take until the very last minute of regulation before World Cup striker BERND HOLZENBEIN of Eintracht Frankfurt could beat Viktor to a Bonhof corner kick and head in a vital equalizer.

Although Mueller had an ambitious effort with yet another acrobatic side-volley that did not miss by much towards the end of extra time, neither team could find a winner and so, for the very first time in the history of major international competition, the controversial method of penalty kicks was used to bring about a result. The first seven kickers from both sides all had success in finding the back of the net from the spot, much to the chargrin of both goalkeepers. But then it was the turn of West Germany midfielder ULI HOENESS from European Cup juggernaut Bayern Munich …

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Czechoslovakia goalkeeper IVO VIKTOR of army club Dukla Prague watches as West Germany midfielder ULI HOENESS, who appeared in just half of Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga matches and scored only four goals during the 1975/76 season, blasts his spot kick well over the crossbar during the historic penalty shootout in the Final of the 1976 UEFA European Championships at the Stadion Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
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