• Thursday, 14 June 2012

    Yesterday at the Euros #7

    Why oh why oh why is this tournament serving up so many great games? It's difficult to keep up. And we had two more yesterday.

    It looked like Italy were going to overwhelm Croatia, especially after Andrea Pirlo's sumptuous free-kick. Mario Balotelli was more switched on than in the opening game, as was Antonio Cassano, but the Italians couldn't get that crucial second goal. Instead, Mario Mandzukic brought a deep cross down on his toe and smashed it on off the far post. 1-1 it remained through the flares.

    The second game lasted, as a contest, for all of four minutes. Someone replaced the sad version of Fernando Torres with the Fernando Torres that scored a bunch of goals for Liverpool and Atletico Madrid and it was this non-sad version of Torres that seized upon some lackadaisical defending and lashed one past Shay Given. Ireland circled the wagons and they held out for exactly 45 minutes until David Silva decided to take the piss. Andres Iniesta's shot came back off Given and Silva swooped on the rebound, told the defence what he was going to do and did it anyway. With 20 minutes left, non-sad Torres was set free and slotted one past Given. Shortly after, Cesc Fabregas was brought on for Spain and he finished another chance from a tight angle as if to say "I'll show you for not starting me". Ireland are out. Trappatoni - that unpretty blend of the Pope, Bishop Len Brennan and Gary Oldman's Dracula - finally brought James McClean on, but only at 3-0 down with 15 minutes to go. Madness. Almost as mad as Gerard Pique playing centre-forward with Damien Duff marking him.

    Ireland are out, but could be kingmakers should they beat Italy. That seems unlikely. Basically, everyone needs to win.

    Tomorrow, it's Sweden v England and France against Ukraine.

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