Dismal, Dreadful, Disatrous
This is not some Group D aliteration to describe how the lions failed to roar during England’s bungle in the jungle but an attempt to put into words the last minute during the Rich Coast of Campbell Class.
Into injury time, the trickery of Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell had proved far too much for Uruguay. The frustrated Maxi Pereira was rightly sent off just before the final whistle for a callous chop on the youngster.
Uruguay may have Luis Suarez back for the next game but will now be without their central defender against England in Sao Paulo, on Thursday. After losing their opening games, both teams will need to win; but only one can. It’s like the knockout stage has started early.
As if earning a reward for winning their games, Italy and Costa Rica have an extra day of rest; to play on Friday, in Recife.
So if we don’t talk up England’s chances, the whispers are that they do have a hope and could even reach the final. England to win the World Cup in Brazil, now that is something to dream about; before the reality is sweated out in the tropics.
In danger of floating up the Amazon without a paddle, Roy Hogson will need to come away from Manaus with more than a point.
England really need to beat Italy; as they’ll surely get bogged down and struggle to grind out draws against Uruguay and Costa Rica.
If Luis Suarez has recovered from his minor knee surgery, the least we can expect is that he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing in the English Premier League all season; score a goal or two. Only this time, captain Steven Gerrard won’t be hugging him; unless the goals are enough to put Italy out of contention in Natal when a Costa Rican stalemate looks on the cards in Belo Horizonte’s other Group D match.
Costa Rica will be happy with their ‘underdog status’ and might just cause an embarrassment for one of the Europeans.
Many a team have come away from tournament football without losing a game while never really doing enough to look like winning a match. England’s only hope is that Roy Hodgson can convince himself and his team to play football to win, rather than set out the stall not to lose.
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.
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