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50 days to Euro 2012: USSR clinch inaugural tournament in extra-time

Everyday from now until June 8, we’ll be counting down the most memorable moments the European championships have brought us through the years.

WE’RE INTO THE final straight on the road to Poland as just 50 days lie between here and the opening game on June 8.

To help you along the way, we will be counting down each day with a memorable snippet of history from past European Championships.

The beginning is as good a place as any to start…

In 1960, 17 teams represented their countries in a competition known as the European Nations Cup. Held in France and backed by UEFA, none of England, West Germany or Italy chose to compete while Spain, under General Franco’s rule, withdrew in protest to the inclusion of the USSR, who had been supporters of the Spanish Civil War.

With the likes of Justin Fontaine (who had scored 13 goals at the previous World Cup) and Raymond Kopa in their line-up, the hosts were well-fancied and recorded huge scorelines over Greece and Austria in the two-legged first round and quarter-final.

However, Les Bleus were met by stiff opposition in the semis and despite leading Yugoslavia 4-2 with a quarter of an hour to play, were the victims of conceding three goals in as many minutes as they crashed out.

Yugoslavia met the Soviet Union in the Paris final on July 10 and took the lead shortly before half-time through Partizan Belgrade striker Milan Galic. The Soviets weren’t behind for long and drew level thanks to Slava Metrevili before extra-time was needed to find a winner.

After 113 minutes of football, 23-year-old Viktor Poledelnik eventually proved the difference when he followed up a parried strike to bundle home from five yards.

True, there were plenty of goals scored for my clubs and for the national team, but there are matches and goals which are really special, a high point of a player’s sporting life. That was the star moment of my life,” Poledelnik said years later on UEFA.com.

Let Jimbo talk you through the highlights below.

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Ben Blake

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