Last nights match was without doubt the most exciting match of this tournament. The soccer on display was not the beautiful kind and England’s answer to Pele left early with broken instep. Rooney ran took a couple of steps without his show as a defender trod on his heel. Not only was he penalised for that he also got his foot broken by Andrade ( was it? ). Owen had managed to put the English up by a goal, a long punt upfield by David James – a defensive lapse as Costinha tried to head, only to put in the path of Owen whose brilliant strike silenced the home crowd. But not for long, the Portuguese took command of the game as Scholes and Gerrard surrendered the midfield. Vassel on for the unlucky ‘Pele’ was obscure for most of the game.(but he was to make his mark at the very end). Ronaldo and Figo began running at the bunched up defence and a goal seemed inevitable. Deco was not at his best, but the ‘talented’ English midfield repayed Deco’s generosity many times over, giving the ball away with the generosity of a russian oil billionaire. Gerrard was particularly wasteful, long or short, his passes never passed the portuguese. However Ashley Cole was brilliant in his shepherding of Ronaldo, without him, England would have conceded many more by half time.
But with Cole and the rest of the back four doing well, the Portuguese were held at bay for 80 minutes. Figo was among the players to be subbed, as Rui Costa and Postiga joined the fray. It was Postiga who headed in the equaliser which took the game into Silver Goal extra time. Sol Campbell had a 90th minute goal disallowed for Terry’s foul on Ricardo, preventing the keeper from challenging.
The Portuguese were beginning to tire and England had more attacks on Ricardo’s goal in extra-time then they had during the entire match. Rui Costa score a scorcher but Lampard was at the right place at the right time to pull the game level again.
And to the Russian roullete of spot kicks. Beckham blazed one over, but Rui Costa’s miss meant that the game was tied at the end of five. Postiga and Ashley Cole duly scored the 6th round. Which brought Villa striker Darius Vassel to the spot. Ricardo saved his attempt and then amazingly went on to score the next one, lifting Portugal to a famous victory!
Some english papers claim they were robbed, but the foul was obvious and there was no way the Sol Campbell goal should have stood, and England didn’t play well enough to win. One would think that after the 92nd minute heartbreak to Zizou’s brilliance the English would have learnt not to sit on a 1-0 lead.
All in all a nice way to round off my birthday, though i managed only 2 hours of sleep, and the hours after lunch had me snoozing at workdesk. Thankfully, i can sleep tomorrow after the French have buried the Greeks. Prediction 5 – 1, 2 to Zidane, 2 to Henry and 1 to Pires.