All entries for Sunday 02 July 2006

July 02, 2006

England 0 Portugal 0 (Portugal win 3–1 on pens)

Defeat is always hard to take, but none more so than when you are the better side, yet still manage to lose. In 2002 England were outclassed by 10 man Brazil, in 2004 they just about matched Portugal and still lost, but yesterday were had the edge in every department and still went out.

Just like in 1998, ill temperament and poor penalty taking stealed our doom for another four years. But it could have been so different. Okay, so the first half performance was hardly mind blowing, but neither was it disastrous. I was always confident we could over power Scolari's side in the second half and twenty minutes in that was exactly what was happening. The Portugese were about to break – then we we go and press the self distruct button.

No complaints about the sending off. Rooney was stupid. After all the hype, fitness worries and everything else when he needed to stand up and be counted he let himself down. He'd done all the hard work – found match fitness and form – and I feel so sorry for him that he couldn't handle the pressure. Clearly he was frustrated at the role he was having to play, but he is not paid £600000 a week for no reason. He is a professional and he should have done better.

Anyway once you are down to 10 men against competent world class opposition you are in big trouble. That we almost dug ourselves out is a testiment to how good our side actually is. Obviously people are going to say that Sven royally cocked up this tournament from day one, but for me the guy is still a genius and we should be in the semis.

In hindsight maybe going 4–4–2 with Crouch in for Lamps would have been a better choice, but who could have predicted that Lampard would fail to perform to such a degree. I guess if we are going to criticise Sven for anything it is his decision to take only three recognised strikers in the squad. Why we will never know. Ashton should have gone instead of Jenas and Defoe instead of Walcott. Owen and Rooney we always going to be the preferred pair, but we needed a plan B. In the end, our lack of striking options was clearly a central factor in Rooney going off.

I always felt England would step up a gear when the opposition required it and for my money that was the way yesterdays game was heading. Portugal are a good side, but not a great one. In the end we let them off too easy. Obviously I could never prove it, but we had that game in the bag.

England: Robinson, Neville, Terry, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Hargreaves, Beckham (Lennon 51), Gerrard, Lampard, Joe Cole (Crouch 65), Rooney, Lennon (Carragher 118).
Subs Not Used: Campbell, James, Bridge, Jenas, Carrick, Downing, Carson, Walcott.

Sent Off: Rooney (62)

Booked: Terry, Hargreaves

Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Meira, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Figo (Postiga 86), Maniche, Petit, Tiago (Viana 74), Ronaldo, Pauleta (Simao 63)
Subs Not Used: Paulo Ferreira, Caneira, Ricardo Costa, Quim, Boa Morte, Nuno Gomes, Paulo Santos

Booked: Petit, Ricardo Carvalho

Att: 52,000

Ref: Horacio Marcelo Elizondo (Argentina)


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