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Ireland shocked the footballing world by beating England 1-0 at Euro 1988
Ireland shocked the footballing world by beating England 1-0 at Euro 1988

Throughout Euro 2020, LiveScore will be looking back at classic games from previous tournaments. We start with a famous Ireland victory 33 years ago.

England expects

England headed into Euro 1988 as one of the favourites — but their campaign got off to the rockiest of starts against the Republic of Ireland.

The Three Lions had topped Group 4 during qualification, winning five of their six matches and, remarkably, finishing with a +18 goal difference.

The squad was packed full of quality. Terry Butcher was ruled out with a broken leg but manager Bobby Robson was still able to call upon a 21-year-old Tony Adams and Mark Wright at the back.

Peter Shilton, 38, was still the undisputed number one in goal, while Bryan Robson, Trevor Steven, Peter Beardsley, Gary Lineker, John Barnes, Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle offered plenty of attacking threat.

Drawn alongside the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and the USSR in Group 2, many tipped England to battle it out with Rinus Michels’ Dutch team for top spot.

Houghton's hammer blow

John Barnes and Republic of Ireland goalscorer Ray Houghton battle for possession in their Euro 88 encounter
John Barnes and Republic of Ireland goalscorer Ray Houghton battle for possession in their Euro 88 encounter

Yet just six minutes into their opener against an unfancied Ireland side in Stuttgart, England found themselves 1-0 down. 

The defence failed to deal with a relatively straightforward long ball forward, and a sliced Kenny Sansom clearance caused chaos in the penalty area.

John Aldridge bullied Adams in the air and his flick fell to Ray Houghton at the back post. He expertly looped his header beyond Shilton and into the far corner.

A shell-shocked England huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a way past Ireland stopper Pat Bonner. 

The main culprit was Lineker, who spurned numerous chances to draw Robson’s men level.

Misery compounded

The Three Lions never really recovered following the defeat and went out of Euro 88 with a whimper, finishing bottom with zero points.

It is often said that the opener isn’t a must-win game. The truth is it's probably a must-not-lose match.

England head into Euro 2020 as pre-tournament favourites once again with one of the strongest squads. They won’t want to repeat the mistakes of 1988 against Croatia.

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European ChampionshipEnglandIreland

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