THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

11 June ~ Tonight’s Group B clash will be the first time England have met Russia at a major tournament, having only previously played them in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. England did, however, play the Soviet Union in plenty of important fixtures prior to its dissolution in 1991, including at two European Championships.

The first came in the third-place play-off in 1968 after world champions England had lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia in the semi-final. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had been denied a place in the final by a coin toss in the semis, with Italy captain Giacinto Facchetti calling correctly after a 0-0 draw. Bobby Charlton put England ahead after 39 minutes in Rome, before Geoff Hurst took advantage of a slip in the Soviet defence to make is 2-0 midway through the second half.

At Euro 88 the outlook was very different. England had lost both matches in Group Two, 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland and 3-1 to Holland, before meeting the unbeaten Soviet Union. England were not up to the task against the tournament’s eventual runners-up, going behind to a Sergei Aleinikov goal after just three minutes. Tony Adams levelled with a head 13 minutes later but Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko and Viktor Pasulko put an end to a miserable England campaign. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, beat Italy 2-0 in the semi-final before losing 2-0 to Holland – who they had beaten in the group stage – in the final.

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