Euro Moments: Davor Suker’s superb lob outwits the Danes
The Croatian striker produced a moment of magic to beat Peter Schmeichel at Hillsborough
Croatian striker Davor Suker celebrates after scoring his second goal against Denmark in their group D clash at Euro 96. Croatia defeated the defending champions 3-0. Photo: Getty Images
Euro ’96 will always be remembered for a number of reasons – Paul Gascoigne’s dentist chair celebration, England’s penalty heartache, Football’s Coming Home (maybe best to forget that bit) and so on.
But surely the goal that has to stand out most came from a Croation.
Two years before he would be named as runner-up to Zinedine Zidane in the 1998 Ballon d’Or, Davor Suker came into Euro ’96 with the eyes of the world set on him as he prepared for a move from Sevilla to Real Madrid the following season.
The striker’s performance in an opening game win over Turkey was quiet enough but it was in the clash with Denmark at Hillsborough that he showed off his considerable potential.
Needing to win to have a chance of advancing to the knockout stage Croatia broke the deadlock in a cagey match just short of the hour mark when Suker netted from the spot.
The Danes were the defending champions after sensationally winning the tournament in 1992 and were expected to beat Croatia.
However the Eastern Europeans were well up for this and determined to knock out Peter Schmeichel and co.
With nine minutes to go Zvonimir Boban made it 2-0 and Denmark looked set to go out.
As he would make a habit of doing throughout his career (most notably in the 1999 Champions League final) Schmeichel charged into the Croatian box in the final minute to make his considerable presence felt as his side desperately chased an unlikely two goals.
When the corner was cleared the Danish ’keeper raced back to his goal. A long ball forward found Suker on the left wing. He deftly controlled it before cutting into the box and heading straight for goal.
Then, as the huge form of Schmeichel came out to close him down he deftly chipped the ball over the Danish ’keeper’s head and into the far corner.
[go to 3.28 in the below video to watch it]
Schmeichel collapsed onto his back knowing that his team was out and that he had just been undone by a sublime bit of skill.
Suker turned towards his team mates and fans, basking in the glory (and the uncharacteristic Sheffield sun) of what he had just done and Croatia were into the quarter-finals.