Wednesday 11 June 2008

Villa makes it a magnificent seven

David Villa's hat-trick against Russia in Innsbruck was the first by a Spanish player at a UEFA European Championship final tournament, the first in the competition for eight years, and the eighth in all.

Kluivert strikes
There were two trebles in 2000 when Patrick Kluivert scored three for the Netherlands, who co-hosted the event with Belgium, in a crushing 6-1 quarter-final defeat of Yugoslavia. That was the first time since 1976 that a hat-trick had occurred in the knockout rounds. Earlier, in Group A, and at the same Rotterdam venue, Sérgio Conceição, had scored all of Portugal's goals in a 3-0 success against Germany.

Magnificent Marco
The previous hat-trick before that was in 1988 when another Dutchman, Marco van Basten – now attempting to become the first person to lift the trophy both as a player and coach – made England suffer in a group fixture in Dusseldorf in a 3-1 win for the Oranje. Four years earlier it had been Michel Platini's tournament, the French talisman scoring two hat-tricks in successive group games in the space of four days. He first helped crush Belgium 5-0 in Nantes, before putting Yugoslavia to the sword in a 3-0 victory in in St Etienne. The latter effort is the quickest hat-trick in a EURO finals, coming within the space of 18 minutes. What is more, both trebles were 'perfect', the future UEFA President scoring with his head and both feet.

Müller's remarkable feat
The first two three-goal hauls in the finals were both claimed by West Germany players. In 1980 Klaus Allofs fired his team into a 3-0 lead in Naples before the Netherlands fought back to 3-2. Four years previously, meanwhile, Dieter Müller delivered one of the most remarkable trebles of all time. The Germans had trailed Yugoslavia 2-0 in their semi-final in Belgrade but the 79th-minute introduction of Müller provided the spark they were looking for. He scored with his first touch in international football to force extra time and then added two more late in the additional period to seal a 4-2 triumph. It is believed he was the first substitute to score three in his first international – as well as being the first of seven hat-trick heroes in EURO history.