In a semi-final match between two of the top footballing nations in Europe we would have hoped for an exciting ninety minutes. Those days seem to be gone.
Spain’s possession football is about as exciting as a tortoise looking for ice-cream.
For Portugal, Nani might have been able to excite the fans, if he could get the ball but at least Ronaldo tried to run at the Spaniards in the thirteenth and sixteenth minutes.
Portugal hustled the Spanish with their own attacking play and frustrated them with their pressing; their desire to get the ball and run with it, through Nani and Ronaldo. So much so that Spain were forced to kick and run on the half-hour. Maybe we did have a game in the making.
Spain held the ball and frustrated the crowd once again, seven minutes from half-time. If only the world champions would play with some Brazilian flair, they might win more fans over.
Half-time: Portugal 0 – Spain 0
Spain tried to get their game going by stringing a few passes together but it all looked so uninspiring; so much so that Cesc Fàbregas replaced Álvaro Negredo, with less than ten minutes played of the second-half.
Spain’s playing with non-strikers didn’t set the world alight as the second-half deteriorated from bad to worse; aided and abetted by the referee. Having said that, he wouldn’t have had to blow his whistle all the time if the players didn’t get all edgy; Portugal’s entire back four entering the book, joined by three Spaniards.
The tense final minutes were broken by a faint, half-hearted chorus of E-span-ia, E-span-ia.
On a counter-attack in the final minute of normal time, Cristiano Ronaldo had the chance to seal the win for Portugal.
With four white shirts streaming towards Iker Casillas, all of Spain breathed a massive sigh of relief as one Real Madrid player sliced the ball high over the other.
Into Extra Time…..
Spain came alive in the final five minutes of the first period of extra-time; as Rui Patricio dived to his left to deny Iniesta.
Rui Patricio had to make another world-class save in the second period of extra-time; this time from Seville’s Jesús Navas.
Although Spain continued to pile on the pressure it would have been an injustice if they’d have nicked the game after their ninety minutes siesta.
Ronaldo didn’t get the chance to take the fifth penalty after a nervous Bruno Alves hit the bar; having earlier forgot the order and almost stepping up in front of Nani.
Fabregas then put Spain into the final; in off the post. It might have been Portugal, had Ronaldo not tried to set himself up as the glory boy with the last kick.
Final Score Portugal 0 – Spain 0 aet (2:4pens)
This was the start of the big games for England and the big players needed to stand up. Would we see a show or showmanship? Who would get the first red card – Wayne Rooney or Mario Balotelli.
With everyone looking flat-footed in the third minute, Daniele De Rossi sliced a swirling shot high on Joe Hart’s post.
Two minutes later, Glen Johnson’s stab at the ball was comfortably palmed to a stop by Gianluigi Buffon.
A good early start to the game, but nil-nil looked on the cards.
Danny Welbeck had a nice chance after a neat one-two with Wayne Rooney but when Andrea Pirlo was allowed a little time and space, Mario Balotell was always a threat; and not just to himself.
Half-time: England 0 – Italy 0
For long periods of the second-half there only seemed to be one team in the game; Italy.
They were frustratingly stopped time and again by various body parts of John Terry though.
Ashley Young looked a liability on the left but managed to hang on for ninety minutes; having avoided being replaced during the double substitution on the hour.
And so it was; the last of the quarter-finals became the first game of the tournament without a goal scored in ninety minutes.
England 0 – Italy 0 aet
England were lucky to be still in the tournament after ninety minutes against Italy and somehow held out for another thirty.
Two hours without a goal meant just one thing; penalties.
And as in the game, so it was in the spot kicks; Ashley Young the deadweight hit the crossbar and Ashley Cole took too long then hit the ball too soft.
Deservedly, Italy meet the Germans.
1-Gianluigi Buffon; 6-Federico Balzaretti,7-Ignazio Abate, 15-Andrea Barzagli; 19-Leonardo Bonucci, 8-Claudio Marchisio, 16-Daniele De Rossi, 18-Riccardo Montolivo, 21-Andrea Pirlo; 9-Mario Balotelli, 10-Antonio Cassano.
England and Italy must have been watching this match with just a little concern; one of them will be meeting Germany, and they’re looking hard to beat.
Germany started the game fast and furious, as the flag was raised twice for offside in the first four minutes; the second one a disallowed goal.
With twenty-five minutes played, Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to be watching a fitness video, where the new exercise was to get up out of your seat and sit back down; just a good job she wasn’t wearing a leotard.
Germany 1 – Greece 0
In the 39th minute, Angela Merkel did the weightlifter; with two fists clenched around an imaginary bar she thrust the weight high into the air, to coincide with captain Philipp Lahm’s swerving shot into the top corner.
The Greeks may have voted to effectively stay in the Euro currency but it could be harder to stay in the Euro tournament.
To only have a one goal advantage after all the first-half attacking pressure didn’t seem like a good return on investment for the Germans
Half-time: Germany 1 – Greece 0
Germany 1 – Greece 1
Germany paid the price for not improving on their lead in the first-half as Greece equalised ten minutes into the second; Georgios Samaras sliding in on Dimitris Salpingidis’ low cross before Manuel Neuer could grapple the ball out of the mud.
Greece would need an Olympian effort to get these two quick goals back in the twenty remaining minutes.
On that display, Germany are going to take some stopping.
Final Score: Germany 4 – Greece 2
13-Michail Sifakis; 3-Giorgios Tzavellas, 5-Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 15-Vasilis Torosidis, 19-Sokratis Papastathopoulos; 2-Giannis Maniatis, 6-Grigoris Makos, 7-Georgios Samaras, 18-Sotiris Ninis, 21-Kostas Katsouranis; 14-Dimitris Salpingidis.
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