On this day: Marco van Basten fires Holland to glory

Back in 1988, Marco van Basten scored one of the best goals in living memory as the Netherlands won Euro 1988.

For a country that had produced the likes of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Johnny Rep, it was seen as almost criminal that the Netherlands had never won an international competition heading into the 1988 European Championships.

While this time around Rinus Michels had some useful players at his disposal, the general consensus was that hosting Germany were going to triumph in the eight-team tournament.

It appeared that the Dutch, as talented as their squad was, were heading for an early exit when they lost their opening match to the USSR 1-0. However, a hat-trick from Marco van Basten saw them ease past England, before they edged out the Republic of Ireland 1-0 to progress to the semi-finals, where they would meet the Germans.

The Netherlands team before the final of Euro 1988.© PA Photos

When Lothar Matthaus put the hosts ahead shortly after the restart, only one outcome looked likely. The Netherlands responded though and went on to win thanks to a penalty from the ever-reliable Ronald Koeman and a strike by Van Basten - his fourth of the competition - two minutes from time.

Which brings us round to the final and what happened 25 years ago today.

The USSR had beaten Holland 15 days earlier, but from the very first whistle the men in Orange, who were spearheaded by the clinical Van Basten, looked set on revenge.

Captain Ruud Gullit headed them in front in the 32nd minute, but the moment that most people remember occurred during the second half.

Marco van Basten in action during the 1988 European Championships final.© PA Photos

Wide on the left, Arnold Murhen sent over a cross deep to the back post for a waiting Van Basten. Most players would have attempted to bring the ball down, but such was the confidence that the AC Milan striker possessed at the time, he hit it full on the volley.

From that angle it looked impossible to score, but goalkeeper Rinat Dasayev was powerless as the ball flew over his head and into the opposite corner of the net.

Not only did it seal the Holland's first and only major trophy to date, but it is widely considered to be one of the best goals ever scored.

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