• Saturday, 16 June 2012

    Yesterday at the Euros #8

    Well that was dramatic. Not the football, the skies above the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

    The first sign something was afoot was the huge thunderclap during the French anthem which knocked out comms momentarily and seemed to affect the stadium PA. The game kicked off as normal, but five minutes in, the torrent had become apocalyptic and the risk posed by the lightning prompted referee Bjorn Kuipers to take the players from the field. Eventually, the deluge eased and the standing water drained quickly. After a 55-minute break, the game could resume. When it did, France assumed control and were relatively untroubled. Yohan Cabaye was outstanding, scored the second and lashed a reflex shot off the post. Jeremy Menez had put France in front and Ukraine could only muster one shot on goal in the 90 minutes. Andriy Shevchenko cut a frustrated figure and the locals booed them from the field which was a little harsh.

    In the late game, England put their fans through the whole gamut of emotions. It started much like the France game insofar as they took the lead - a towering header from Andy Carroll - before trying to sit on it and failing. Olof Mellberg - possibly the manliest player at the tournament - headed in twice from set pieces, the first with the assistance of Glen Johnson. Whatever England's failings, and they are many, they do possess some talented individuals and two of them found moments to turn the game back around. Theo Walcott smacked a 20-yarder in as Sweden could only half-clear a corner, the ball deviating enough to deceive Andreas Isaksson, and Danny Welbeck finished brilliantly with a back-heel as England managed to string a whole eight passes together. That doesn't sound overly impressive, but for England it's akin to tiki-taka. Sweden are out, which is excuse enough for this:

    Next up, Group A reaches a conclusion. Poland need a win against the Czech Republic for whom a draw will suffice. Greece need to beat Russia.

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