History: Hrubesch crowns German revival
The success of the 1976 European Championship fed the clamour for more places at the final tournament, and UEFA responded by doubling the number of participants as the competition returned to Italy for a second time.
With eight teams now involved instead of four, the hopefuls were divided into two groups, from which the winners were to advance directly to the final. In another change to procedure, one of those eight places went automatically to Vincenzo Bearzot’s hosts, but without suspended striker Paolo Rossi they faced an uphill struggle in a section also featuring England, Belgium and Spain.
Belgium made it to the final from one group while Germany marched in the final from the other group with a 3-2 win over the Netherlands.
Fortunately, the final itself provided more entertainment despite the much-fancied Germans taking an early lead when Hrubesch fired home after 10 minutes. Rene Vandereycken leveled for the Belgiums from penalty spot in the second half, but just as in 1976 Germany scored late on - and this time it was the winner. Hrubesch was the hero again as he headed in Rummenigge’s corner to reclaim the European crown.