Perhaps the game of the tournament illustrated the appeal of Euro 2020 long before it finished with a scoreline seemingly plucked from the 1950s.
It went on to end Croatia 3-5 Spain (xG: CRO 3.98 - 4.36 SPA) but the game’s second goal, an equaliser from Pablo Sarabia, took Euro 2020 to 109 goals; one more, in short, than the whole of Euro 2016 and thus the most of any European Championships.
Eventually, there were 142 and a healthy goal per game ratio of 2.78, the highest in a World Cup or European Championships since the 1982 World Cup (2.81). The last European Championships to average more was 1976, when there were 19 goals in just four games.
The numbers gave it a case to be the best tournament since at least Euro 2000 (2.74). The drama was a constant: there were only two 0-0 draws and in one (the other was England against Scotland) it came with the anomaly that Spain had 85 percent of possession, a record for a European Championships game.
It was not the only one: Patrik Schick’s 49.7-yard goal against Scotland came from further out than any previous strike in the tournament’s history. It was almost beaten: Pedri’s own goal against Croatia, the record-equalling 108th strike of Euro 2020, came from 49.0 yards.
And it showed that some of the action was accidental. The 15 previous European Championships had produced nine own goals. Euro 2020 had 11 of its own. Own goals scored more goals in Russia than Russia did.
Slovakia exited the competition after scoring one goal for themselves, but also benefiting from an own goal, while being debited with two further own goals, as Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka were both scorers for Spain. Portugal ‘scored’ four of the six goals in their 4-2 defeat to Germany. The only player to score a winner for France was Mats Hummels.
That goal-per-game ratio would have been even higher with better penalty taking. Seventeen spot kicks were awarded, but eight were missed, even if Harry Kane scored the rebound from the last. Cristiano Ronaldo scored three penalties, overhauling Michel Platini’s record to reach 14 goals in European Championships; every game brought a record for Ronaldo, who finished on 25 matches in the competition.
Other veterans made a different mark. Goran Pandev became, at 37, the second oldest scorer (behind Austria’s Ivica Vastic in 2008) in a European Championships. It was his country’s first goal in a major tournament and came 20 years, or 7312 days, after his international debut. In 67 percent of his tournament games, Pandev faced a footballer who was not born when he first played for North Macedonia.
The other debutants, Finland, played in a first major tournament 110 years after first playing international football. Scotland played in a first tournament of the 21st century and Callum McGregor extended a unique record: all five players to score for them in a Euros have been a ‘Mc’, whether McStay, McClair, McAllister, McCoist or McGregor.
Other attempts were guaranteed not to go in: Dani Olmo led the tournament with the most shots (22) but no goals. He and Gerard Moreno had 37 shots between them and a combined xG of 5.97 without scoring.
Spain dominated many a statistic: Mikel Oyarzabal’s average of 8.08 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes made him the most creative player per minute while Jordi Alba made the most crosses, with 21, and Koke took the most corners.
Their total of 5309 passes was 896 more than anyone else. Aymeric Laporte’s 637 completed passes were 133 more than anyone else: another Spaniard, Alba, was second. Laporte’s completed passes travelled 14611 yards, or about 8.3 miles. Hungary’s Nemanja Nikolic, meanwhile, made the most passes (14, completing 11) of any player who did not pass the ball forwards.
Austria made different sorts of marks. Marcel Sabitzer had the most shots (12) of anyone who did not manage any on target. Two near-namesakes were the unheralded defensive forces: Stefan Lainer was top for blocks, with 18, and Konrad Laimer second for pressures, with his 151 putting him behind only Kalvin Phillips.
Meanwhile, Czech Republic right-back Vladimir Coufal finished first for throw-ins, second for interceptions and third for crosses. It was a hat-trick of sorts.
Switzerland won a knockout tie in a major tournament for the first time since 1938 while Yann Sommer was the busiest goalkeeper, with 22 saves. The quietest, of those who took the field, was Italy’s Salvatore Sirigu; he was the only goalkeeper to play but not concede a goal, largely because he was only on the pitch for a minute. Ukraine’s Heorhiy Buschchan conceded the most goals (10).
Gianluigi Donnarumma was beaten four times in games and four in shootouts but 55 percent of the nine spot kicks Italy faced after 120 minutes did not go in. He ended up topping the charts for penalty saves as Italy became the first team to win two shootouts in the same European Championships.
The victorious Italians won other categories: Giovanni Di Lorenzo made most blocks and attempted most tackles and Marco Verratti won most. Jorginho made most interceptions and ran furthest, at 86.0km.
The tournaments Italy win – 2006, 1982 – tend to be outstanding ones. Now Euro 2020 belongs in that category.