Euro Moments: Yugoslavia defeat France by the odd goal in nine

Drazan Jerkovic strikes twice late on as hosts are edged out in Parc des Princes thriller

Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union in the 1960 European Nations’ Cup final.Yugoslavia reached the final by virtue of a thrilling 5-4 win over hosts France in the semi-finals. Photograph: Getty

Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union in the 1960 European Nations’ Cup final.Yugoslavia reached the final by virtue of a thrilling 5-4 win over hosts France in the semi-finals. Photograph: Getty

 

Euro 1960: Yugoslavia 5 France 4

July 6th, 1960

If things go well for France this summer, the Euro 2016 hosts might well be playing a semi-final on July 6th in which case there’ll be plenty of talk about their dramatic defeat at the same stage 56 year years ago to the day in the Parc des Princes.

It seemed reasonable to expect goals, the French had beaten Austria 9-4 over two legs to reach in the quarters while the Yugoslavs won 6-3 against Portugal but the first staging of the tournament wasn’t a huge hit with spectators and only 26,370 turned up to see this semi-final. They all must have got to dine out on having been there afterwards, though, for the match is still widely reckoned to have been one of the greatest the tournament has ever produced.

The home side ultimately lost but only after a pulsating game that swung one then the other and which the French looked to have in the bag with 27 minutes remaining (the match starts in the attached video at around 40 seconds).

At that point, they led 4-2 with Jean Vincent, Maryan Wisnieski and Francois Huette (twice) having scored the goals after Milan Galic had given Yugoslavia an early lead and Ante Zanetic pulled one back at 3-1.

Then in the 75th minute, Tomislav Knez halved the deficit before Drazan Jerkovic, winner of the Golden Boot at the World Cup two years later, struck twice in a little over a minute, to steal a late advantage over the French. The French attacked relentlessly for the remaining 11 minutes but their opponents held out and progressed to the final.

The French were left to wonder how things might have turned out if they had had their own goal machine, the Moroccan born Just Fontaine, and his regular one man supply line, Raymond Kopa, available for the game.

Fontaine scored 21 goals in his 10 competitive games for France, including a record 13 at the ‘58 World Cup when, prior to the formal establishment of a Golden Boot award, the closest he got to formal recognition of the achievement was the gift of an air rifle from a newspaper back home.

The striker had been the joint top scorer in qualifying for the 1960 finals with five goals despite playing in only two of France’s four games but broke his leg twice that year and would never play for his adopted country again; although he did later manage the team for two games.

Jerkovic, meanwhile, would become the first manager of the newly formed team of independent Croatia in 1990 having previously had a brief stint in charge of Yugoslavia. He died in 2008.

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