A look back at the best and worst of Euro 2016

Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson and his teammates celebrating beating England in Nice on June 27, 2016.
Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson and his teammates celebrating beating England in Nice on June 27, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

After 50 matches and 107 goals scored, the 2016 European Championship reaches its climax tonight as host France takes on Portugal in the final at the Stade de France.

The 15th edition was also the continent's biggest with a record 24 teams involved and it produced many memorable moments during the four weeks of competition.

Here's a look back at some of the major highlights.

1. Best moment: The hand clap heard around the world


Never mind the lifting of the trophy or even Italian striker Simone Zaza's hilarious penalty routine. The Icelandic hand clap deserves the biggest applause. Its origins may be ambitious - Polish handball and Scottish football fans have performed it before - but it has become a symbol of Iceland's remarkable run in France. Even the French themselves could not resist giving it a go.

2. Best goal: Shades of Cruyff by Hal Robson-Kanu

He started the tournament without a job but it would be safe to say that Robson-Kanu's agent's mobile phone has been ringing non-stop ever since the Welsh striker produced a brilliant piece of individual skill. The 27-year-old, with his back to goal, outwitted three defenders with a "Cruyff" turn and scored the decisive second goal in his country's shock 3-1 win over favourites Belgium.

3. Best player: France's Antoine Griezmann

France's Antoine Griezmann celebrating after scoring against the Republic of Ireland on June 26, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The 2014 World Cup ended in tears for the French forward who also missed a penalty as his club Atletico Madrid lost in May's Champions League. But Griezmann has found redemption with a string of match-winning performances for Les Bleus at the Euros. He started the tournament slowly but has been decisive in the latter stages with five goals and two assists in the knock-out rounds to steer the host to the final.

4. Biggest letdown: Who else but England

Wayne Rooney arriving at Manchester Airport after England was knocked out of the Euro 2016 tournament, on June 28, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dark horses Austria will probably make a few people's list but no one disappoints quite like the English. They struggled in the group stages and departed with a whimper at the first hurdle during the knock-out round. At least England's footballers kept their promise to leave the EU.

5. Best save: Jerome Boateng's octopus impression versus Ukraine

Despite the presence of several world-class goalkeepers in the tournament, none pulled off a more eye-catching save than the German centre-back. He was back-pedalling and the goal-bound ball was bouncing at an awkward height but somehow Boateng managed to rearrange his feet and prevent Yevhen Konoplyanka's shot and likely equaliser from crossing the line.

6. Worst miss: Zero for Zaza

He was given one job and botched it in spectacular fashion. The Juventus striker, who had a good record beating goalkeepers from 12 yards, was brought on just before the final whistle as the semi-final headed into a penalty shoot-out. Zaza's attempt was last seen in Row Z.


7. Most shocking play: Joachim Low's scratch'n'sniff


Rather than focus on their straightforward opening group match win over Ukraine, it was the performance of Germany's coach which got everyone talking. Watching the game from the bench and perhaps forgetting that cameras were trained on him, Low shoved his hand into the front of his trousers and then smelled it before doing the same with the back. Suffice to say, no opposing official or player was inclined to shake Low's hand after the game.

8. Best celebration: Get a grip Buffon


After beating Belgium, Gianluigi Buffon sprints the entire length of the pitch to celebrate with the Azzurri fans. The veteran stopper might be one of the most respected figures in the game but that did not stop him from looking foolish as his attempt at swinging on the crossbar ends with him slipping and falling hard on his back.

9. Worst behaved: The arrogance of Cristiano Ronaldo


His petulance and ego went up several notches in France. Not only did he accuse Iceland of possessing a small mentality after their shock draw with Portugal, Ronaldo's deplorable behaviour continued when he reacted angrily when approached by a television reporter and grabbed the microphone and threw it into a lake. At least his aim was good for once.

10. Best quote: Xherdan Shaqiri on some dodgy jerseys

Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri reacting after the loss to Poland at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne on June 25, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

It might be a physical game but no one expected to see four Switzerland jerseys being torn like paper during their goalless encounter against France. Midfielder Granit Xhaka had to change his Puma-made top twice while team-mates Admir Mehmedi and Breel Embolo also required kit replacements. It prompted this memorable one-liner from Xherdan Shaqiri: "I hope Puma does not produce condoms."