27 June 2004

Koller 49
Baros 63, 65

The first half was quite possibly the worst in this tournament. The Danes surprisingly had the possession but did absolutely
nothing with the ball.

The Czechs were quick off the blocks in the second half. Laursen got nowhere near Poborsky's cross allowing giant Koller
a free header in the box, 1-0. In a moment of pure irony Gronkjaer was about a foot away from Nedved before taking a dive,
earning the European footballer of the year a yellow card. I'm sure on appeal the yellow card will be rescinded and I wouldn't
be surprised if Gronkjaer was fined. Baros, who hadn't scored a single league goal for Liverpool all season, leapfrogged
Van Nistelrooy to lead the goalscorers chart with two goals in two minutes. A fantastic pass from Poborsky split the Danish
defence, and Baros lobbed first time over Sorensen. Nedved intercepted a pass from Gravesen and sent Baros racing into
space on the left of the Danish defence, he sprinted away from Laursen and blasted the ball into the roof of the net, once
against Sorensen went down early.

Assists : Poborsky (ck), Poborsky, Nedved

26 June 2004


The first half was so bad I feel asleep. Robben cracked a left foot shot towards the top corner, Isaksson did brilliantly
to save. There was good news for the Dutch when the useless Frank de Boer was substituted for Bouma. De Boer injured
himself minutes earlier when he came off second best after an appalling challenge on Ibrahimovic. I hope that's the last
we see of the arrogant prick in a Dutch shirt. Jonsson left van Bronckhorst for dead on the right wing before pulling the
ball back across goal but Svensson shot straight at Bouma, bad miss.

Larsson headed across goal, Stam sliced his clearance straight to Ibrahimovic and his shot was hacked off the line by
Cocu. Seedorf hit a brilliant 40 yard pass into Van Nistelrooy and with Isaksson rushing off his line he should have headed
the ball but took in on his chest before shooting, the ball rebounded off Isaksson onto the arm of a Swedish defender and
wide of the post. Stam went close after dribbling from the half way line (in slow motion) past the Swedish defence.
Ljungberg almost finished off a fine passing move by the Swedes but failed to hit the target. In the closing minutes of the
second half Van Nistelrooy headed wide, it wasn't a Henry or Vieri level miss but from a player of Van Nistelrooy's class 
you expect better, he is after all the best striker in the World.

Extra time was hugely entertaining. Once again Robben tried his luck from the edge of the box, Isaksson completely misjudged
the flight of the ball, it bounced off his hands, onto the post and agonisingly away from substitute Makaay. Seedorf's
brilliant long range shot proved to hot to handle for Isaksson, Makaay latched onto the loose ball and floated over a cross
to the back post for Van Nistelrooy but he blazed over.

In the second period of extra time Seedorf's free kick was brilliantly saved by Isaksson. Van Nistelrooy had a goal disallowed
for offside, ironic given two of his previous goals were miles offside and this was marginal at best. In the final 8 minutes the
chances fell to Sweden. As Heitinga cleared under pressure from Ibrahimovic he blasted the ball straight into Bouma's kidneys,
the defender, who has a head like a water melon, keeled over, Larsson showed fantastic technique to control the ball and
then volley on the turn but against the crossbar. Ljungberg also hit the woodwork. 

Penalty shoot-out :

Kallstrom : Bottom left, van der Sar goes the right way but Kallstrom's penalty has too much pace
van Nistelrooy : Smashes the ball to the right
Larsson : Another emphatic penalty
Heitinga : Bottom right
Ibrahimovic : Does a Beckham, straight over the bar
Reiziger : Like fellow defender Heitinga finds the bottom right
Ljungberg : Very lucky, the ball comes off the crossbar, hits Van der Sar and rolls over the line
Cocu : Goes left, hit's the post
Wilhelmsson : Top left, van der Sar guesses right, he's had enough practice
Makaay : Best penalty of the night. Looks certain to go right and just as he was about to strike the ball
went left, sending the 'keeper the wrong way
Mellberg : Goes right, van der Sar saves, great save
Robben : Bottom right, no chance for Isaksson

On chances created a deserved victory by the Dutch. It's a shame it took both teams over
90 minutes to get going, had they played as well in normal time we would be looking at a five goal

Holland win 5-4 on penalties

25 June 2004

FRANCE					0-1				GREECE
									Charisteas 65

The early chances fell to the Greeks. Nikolaidis tried his luck from distance but Barthez was, as usual, well placed. A minute
later he bailed out his defence who went to sleep on a free kick, he just about stopped Karagounis' volley from crossing
the line. Zidane played in past-it Lizarazu, he crossed to the edge of the box and Henry leapt in the air... and headed
wide. More poor set piece defending by the French lead to another chance for the un-fancied Greeks. Silvestre headed
a throw-in straight to Katsouranis and his volley bounced into the arms of Barthez. Fyssas hit a stunning dipping volley
from 35 yards, if Seamen was in goal this was in, Barthez palmed the ball over for a corner. Zidane helped on a hit and
hope ball from Dacourt, Henry volleyed on the turn but the ball deflected wide. Trezeguet looks odds on to score as Henry
played a one-two with Pires before sticking a cross to the back post but Kapsis made a tremendous leap to head the ball
clear. Basinas hit a great cross on the turn to Zagorakis, he flicked the ball over midget Lizarazu, ran towards the box
and Charisteas met his cross with a bullet header right into the top corner, absolutely no chance for Barthez. Henry
wasted another header and Lizarazu had a shot charged down and the Greeks held on to deservedly send out the

Henry played like Vieri today but he can be forgiven as everyone knows he is awful at heading the ball. What I don't
understand is why Trezeguet wasn't in the same positions.

The luck ran out for the lucky French. They were awful against England, gifted two goals against Croatia by Tudor and
only looked decent against a weak Switzerland team. Pires, Zidane, Trezeguet and Henry were dreadful in this match.
Hopefully the nauseating levels of hysteria over Zidane will now end, he was NEVER that good to begin with and it would
be very foolish indeed for him to carry on until the next World Cup. Physically he's shot at 32, he hasn't a prayer at 34.

Lemerde was a weak willed arrogant prick who paid the price for caving into the demands of Zidane and Desailly and picking
players that were in some cases well past their best and he was also a shit coach given the similarities between the 2002
and 2004 squads I begin to wonder how much control Santini truly had over this team. Barthez didn't make any mistakes
in this tournament but how can anyone possibly justify his inclusion over Coupet given he didn't kick a ball until January?
Desailly's presence was even more baffling. Injury prone midget Lizarazu was released by Bayern on a free transfer yet 
inds himself in the team, again. Makelele was a massive flop for Chelsea yet in Vieira's absence he is preferred to Pedretti
who by all accounts has been superb every time he has played for France and in the league. And Rothen, one of the best
midfielders in Europe this year, got 10 minutes as a substitute for Pires, who has never convinced in a France shirt
speaking of which Henry and Trezeguet - that's two consecutive tournaments in which they have sucked arse.

Assist : Zagorakis

24 June 2004

Postiga 83									Owen 3
Rui Costa 110								Lampard 115

Portugal win 6-5 on penalties.

Route one gave England the perfect start. Costinha headed James goalkick straight to Owen and as Ricardo came off his
line he turned and volleyed into the top corner, brilliant finish, shit defending. England's super stars combined for the next
chance, Gerrard chested down a throw-in and passed to Scholes, he hit a cross on the turn to Owen but under pressure
from Andrade he volleyed over. Two minutes later Neville crossed to the back post and Campbell headed over, great chance.
Andrade stood on Rooney's ankle when they battled for a ball. Two minutes later Rooney limped off. Vassell came on in his
place and had an immediate impact. He heading on James goalkick to Owen, who hit a stunning volley on the bounce which
Ricardo brilliantly tipped away. Unfortunately for England until the shoot out that proved to be Vassell and Owen's last
contributions as they went into their defensive shell, just as they had done against France, with over an hour to play.

Both coaches started to make substitutions mid-way through the second half, Eriksson predictably a defender (Phil Neville)
for an attacker (Scholes) and Scolari and attacker (Simao) for a defender (Costinha). Figo was substituted shortly after
stinging James arms with a shot from distance. His replacement scored the equaliser. Fellow substitute Simao crossed from
the left, Postiga rose unchallenged from Terry to the ball went in off his shoulder past James. The substitute pattern
continued, Rui Costa came on for right back Miguel while Eriksson replaced an exhausted Gerrard with Hargreaves. In the
90th minute Campbell headed a Beckham free kick against the bar then pushed Terry out of the way to head in the rebound.
The replays clearly showed Terry was pulling on Ricardo's arm, goals rarely stand for anything close to a foul on the 'keeper
but Campbell would have scored regardless, a costly, unnecessary foul by the young centre back.

The Portuguese had a perfectly valid goal disallowed. Ronaldo connected with a header from Rui Costa's corner, the ball clearly
crossed the line before Cole blasted it out of the net. For some reason there was no replay of this incident so here's the
evidence :


Portugal took the lead from an England counter attack. Deco played a one-two with Ronaldo before passing to Rui Costa,
Rui Costa powered his way through Phil Neville's challenge before unleashing a thunderous shot which crashed in off the
underside of the crossbar. Brilliant goal. Beckham finally put in a decent corner and England were level, Terry headed onto
Chelsea team-mate Lampard, he pulled the ball down with his left, turned and hammered a shot with his right past Ricardo.

Onto penalties :

Beckham : Awful penalty, straight into outer space
Deco : Beats James with ease, shoots to the left
Owen : Slams the ball down the middle
Simao : Sends James the wrong way
Lampard : Hard and low down the middle
Rui Costa : To James left, over the bar
Terry : High into the net
Ronaldo : Top left, no chance for James
Hargreaves : Lefts Ricardo standing with a brilliant shot whipped inside the post
Maniche : Finds the bottom corner
Cole : As cool as Arsenal team-mate Henry, sends Ricardo the wrong way
Postiga : Shades of Panenka, a magnificent lob leaves James looking stupid
Vassell : Ricardo makes a brilliant save down to his left
Ricardo : Takes his gloves off and slams the ball into the bottom left corner

England only have themselves to blame. The players sucked themselves into their defensive shell instead of going for a second
goal against a Portuguese team that IMO are poor in attack. Most people are happy that Italy are out because they sit on
leads and defend so why should it be any different when England do it? Eriksson made the same mistake against Brazil and
France and paid for it, strike three you're out. Beckham was beyond awful (all tournament). I expected more from Gerrard,
Terry was poor. Scholes had a good tournament. You can criticise Owen for his lack of movement but he didn't get good
service. Lampard, Cole, Campbell and of course Rooney were magnificent. This is exactly the same as Italy and Spain, the
players are there but the coaches kill them with their negativity.

I don't want to hear anymore criticism of Scolari from any Portuguese fans, everyone who has criticised him over the past few
weeks is a complete arsehole, the man is unquestionably one of the best coaches in the World.

Assists : Simao, Postiga, Terry