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)

- 8 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. I kind of relished the thought of a semi–final without Beckham, as it would have re–opened the possibility of 4–4–2 with Hargreaves still in the side.

    Anyway, we lost for two reasons: 1) Eriksson's uselessness when it came to picking players and formations and 2) our top players not reaching top form (notably Lampard and Rooney). But at least it wasn't bad luck this time…

    02 Jul 2006, 15:31

  2. i am sick of the failure, i really actually believed deep down that this was our year. and then came the portugal game

    what the hell was ericsson thinking going 4–5–1 again? it hardly worked against ecuador
    what a poor match, we hardly created anything

    the rooney sending off was frustration, but the contempt i have for cristiano ronaldo has risen to new levels. I HATE HIM. winding up rooney, headbutting him, winking, crying to the ref. there is only one word fit for that man and it is not suitable for this blog.

    and then the penalties – i knew lampard would miss, but i thought stevie g would score
    and as for carragher – what a brilliand first pen, but the second was terrible.

    i almost cried i was so upset.

    the good news – beckham has stepped down. might be good for the team, cos he won't be automatic selection
    the captaincy better go to terry – he is a born winner

    02 Jul 2006, 20:08

  3. I'm with you Rob – I too felt we could win it, and I was surprised by how upset I was at the end. I normally like to think I don't care too much about England, but I guess it is impossible not to get wrapped up in it all.

    As for Ronaldo, hopefully the crowd hostility when he comes back to the Premiership will teach him a lesson.

    02 Jul 2006, 21:39

  4. Dave Sheffield

    Sven is a hopeless manager and tactically inept, i'm glad he's gone!
    McClaren will certainly do a much better job.

    who will you be supporting now – 5live seem to think most England fans will be going for Germany as they are the least cheating side left.

    03 Jul 2006, 16:41

  5. Got to be France or Germany for me. Zidane was amazing on Saturday and the Germans have been playing some neat stuff. Shame Frings is suspended though.

    03 Jul 2006, 17:22

  6. Olly Whitehead

    It pains me to say it, but I would really like to see the Germans win it, they are the only team who have improved throughout, and the press gave them no chance to win. If not blessed with world class players throughout they have really shown how to work as a unit – Brazil, England, Holland et al take note.

    03 Jul 2006, 20:23

  7. Can anyone name an England player that actually performed at the World Cup? Owen Hargreaves surpassed pre–tournament expectations but only because they were so low that if he'd managed to tie his shoelace people would have been surprised.
    Not one of the supposed "world class" midfield displayed the flexability and determination to improve that their counterparts in Germany, France and Portugal have shown.

    04 Jul 2006, 00:13

  8. England players who did well – Hargreaves who probably got more stick than he deserved, Gary Neville who made the defence stronger when he appeared and gave the attack some options, Lennon though it's uncertain as to how he'd cope in a full game, Ashley Cole.

    England players who were a bit meh at times and ok at others – Terry (capable of better), Ferdinand, Joe Cole was excellent and non–descript sometimes within the same game, Rooney, Gerrard, Crouch, Carrick.

    England players who were uninspiring – Robinson, Owen, Downing, Lampard (why was he allowed to hog positions Gerrard could have used when he was out of form?), David James (generally), Campbell, Carragher.

    Who are ya? Walcott, Jenas (who I totalyl forgot about for the entire tournament), Bridge, Carson.

    I have no idea how McLaren is going to fix this…

    04 Jul 2006, 23:34

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