European Championships: Top 10 Euro Upsets

England aren’t the only nation to suffer humiliating upsets at the European Championships

Upsets in the European Championship crop up every tournament but only a few leave the defeated team totally red faced. Against-the-odds wins aren’t uncommon in this tournament, yet it’s the total humiliations that we remember with relish.

From Yugoslavia stunning France to England’s shock exit to Iceland, some defeats hurt more than others.

Upsets can also wreak havoc on the European Championship odds and catch bettors off their guard. Those lucky few who back the underdogs may walk away with healthy profits but the rest of us are left to rue gunning for the favourite.

Here at BetUK we’ve dug into the archives to unearth the 10 biggest Euro upsets of all time. Of course, a third of them involve England!

Before checking out some of the biggest upsets in European Championships history, check out the latest European Championship betting odds ahead of Euro 2024.

Czechoslovakia 2-2 West Germany (5-3 pens.) | Euro 1976 final

Euro 1976 began at the semi-final stage. Czechoslovakia had escaped a group involving England, Portugal and Cyprus, and then beat the Soviet Union over two legs, to reach the tournament proper. An against-the-odds victory over Netherlands followed to land the Czechs a first Euros final.

They were heavy underdogs against world and European champions West Germany, who had beaten Netherlands in the '74 World Cup final two years earlier. Czechoslovakia hadn't even qualified for that tournament.

Yet they rumbled Germany here and took a two-goal lead within 25 minutes. They would have won it in regulation time had Bernd Hölzenbein not popped up with an 89th-minute equaliser. The final went to penalties and Czechoslovakia converted all five spot kicks, while Uli Hoeneß missed the crucial one for the Germans.

West Germany suffered four whole years of hurt before reclaiming their European crown in 1980.

England 0-1 Republic of Ireland | Euro 1988 group stage

Defeat to the Republic of Ireland remains one of the biggest shocks in England's history at the European Championships. A team featuring Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker, Bryan Robson and John Barnes were tipped to make the final. They crashed out at the group stage without recording a point.

England never got going in Germany that summer. Ray Houghton scored just six minutes into their opening clash and the Irish fought valiantly to frustrate their rivals in the second half. They thoroughly deserved the three points.

Jack Charlton, England's former World Cup-winning midfielder, had masterminded one of the biggest triumphs in the Republic's history.

Netherlands 3-0 Italy | Euro 2008 group stage

Italy were hotly tipped to win Euro 2008 after beating France in the World Cup final just two years earlier. The Dutch, by comparison, had bombed at the 2006 World Cup and looked a shadow of the team that reached the Euro 2004 semis.

The bookies had Italy as short-odds favourites to win this opening clash of Group C but Netherlands hadn't read the script. Marco van Basten's troops came out fighting and goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wesley Sneijder had them comfortably in the lead by half time.

Seven of Italy's XI had started the World Cup final just two years earlier. They wilted further in the second half and conceded a third to Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

The result itself wasn’t a shock but the manner of Italy’s defeat made it one of the greatest UEFA Euro upsets. Two years later and Netherlands reached the World Cup final, while Italy finished bottom of their group.

Wales 3-1 Belgium | Euro 2016 quarter-finals

Wales were never expected to progress out of the group stage at Euro 2016 but somehow got as far as the semi-finals. Their biggest victory came in the quarters against a Belgium team priced at 11/2 to win the whole thing.

Gareth Bale and co. had already topped Group B and beaten Northern Ireland 1-0 to make the last-eight. They fell behind to Radja Nainggolan’s 13th-minute opener and it looked like the Euro dream was over.

But Wales then kicked into life. Ashley Williams scored from a set piece and Hal Robson-Kanu converted his now-famous turn and strike that earned him a Puskas Award nomination. Sam Vokes added the gloss with four minutes remaining to seal Wales’ greatest ever result.

Russia 3-1 Netherlands (AET) | Euro 2008 quarter-finals

Netherlands were on cruise control at Euro 2008 after topping Group C with three wins from three, nine goals scored and only one conceded. They stuffed France 4-1 along the way and looked good for a final appearance.

Russia, meanwhile, had looked unconvincing in their opening three games, narrowly beating Greece and edging Sweden after a heavy loss to Spain.

Netherlands were huge favourites in Basel but needed a late Van Nistelrooy equaliser to force extra time. Russia deservedly scored twice in the additional 30 minutes to saunter into the semis. They were subsequently stuffed 3-0 by Spain.

Yugoslavia 5-4 France | Euro 1960 semi-finals

France were firm favourites to win the 1960 European Nations' Cup – the inaugural Euros. They'd beaten Greece 8-2 and Austria 9-4 on aggregate over two qualifying rounds to make it to the semis. They were hosts, had reached the World Cup semis two years earlier, and Just Fontaine was in his pomp.

Yugoslavia's mission was made all the harder when they fell 2-1 behind at half time. But a spirited second-half comeback in Paris – which included three goals in four minutes – turned the tie.

Romania 3-2 England | Euro 2000 group stage

England looked well placed to challenge for a final spot at Euro 2000 but their dreams ended in ignominy against Romania in their final group game. All they needed was a draw but Phil Neville conceded a late penalty to gift Ionel Ganea the obligation of knocking the Three Lions out.

The result was a major shock, coming as it did three days after England had beaten Germany 1-0.

England 1-2 Iceland | Euro 2016 last-16

England headed into Euro 2016 without much optimism among fans who had watched their capitulation at the Brazil World Cup two years prior. However, a late victory over Wales and draws with Russia and Slovakia had at least steadied the nerves.

Beat Iceland and England were looking at a quarter-final showdown at France. Yet Roy Hodgson's men were guilty of looking too far ahead, as Iceland stunned the Three Lions. Ragnar Sigurðsson cancelled out Wayne Rooney's early penalty before Kolbeinn Sigþórsson put the underdogs 2-1 up on 18 minutes.

England still had time to come back but what really stung was just how listless they were in the final third. England crashed out of the competition without laying a glove on Iceland, who had started the game as 17/2 underdogs.

Germany 0-2 Denmark | Euro 1992 final

Germany were already three-time world champions and two-time European champions when they rocked up for what looked to be a routine Euro 1992 final showdown with lowly Denmark in Gothenburg. Denmark hadn't even qualified for the Euros and were a late replacement after Yugoslavia were booted out.

But Germany were caught totally off guard. John Jensen opened the scoring with a thunderbolt from distance on 18 minutes. Denmark held on valiantly, denying the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann and Karl-Heinz Riedle, until Kim Vilfort slipped through the German defence to make it 2-0 with 12 minutes remaining.

Peter Schmeichel was unbeatable that day and many believed they'd never see a Euro final upset like it again.

Portugal 0-1 Greece | Euro 2004 final

Twelve years later and an even more shocking upset befell the Euros in a final. Greece had beaten hosts Portugal 2-1 in the opening group game of the tournament yet were the clear 9/2 outsiders in Lisbon. Portugal had improved over the month and looked certain to claim their first major trophy.

It was not a classic final as Greece sat deep and frustrated their hosts. Angelos Charisteas popped up with a header on 57 minutes during a rare Greek attack and silenced the Estádio da Luz.

Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari threw everything at the opposition but nothing worked. Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo’s magic that had carried them through the tournament evaporated.

It ended with Portugal’s players collapsing on the turf at full time, a tweenaged Ronaldo crying, and the stadium swiftly emptying.

Take Time to Think | | 18+

We're sorry!

Unfortunately, BetUK isn't available in your country.