15 June 2008

SWITZERLAND 2 (Hakan Yakin 71, Hakan Yakin 83 Pen)

An absolutely pointless match. Scolari rested his star players. Muller intercepted a clearance and sent it back into the Portugal box towards Derdiyok who, with his back to play, volleyed a lovely pass into Hakan Yakin and he thumped a half volley under Ricardo's legs. Barnetta bounced himself off Meira to win a penalty which Yakin slammed into the top left corner.

Attendance : 40,000
Assists : Derdiyok, Barnetta (won pen)

TURKEY 3 (Arda 75, Nihat 87, Nihat 89)
CZECH REPUBLIC 2 (Koller 34, Plasil 62)

Grygera got free on the right and swung a cross into the box which Koller headed under the crossbar. After a dreadful first half in which Koller's goal was the only highlight you could never imagine what was in store in the final 45 minutes.

At half time Terim pushed Tuncay, who started out on the right wing, up front instead of Semih Senturk and replaced him with Sabri Sarioglu. Koller broke through on the hour mark and did a Luca Toni, failing to hit the target when through on goal. Unlike Italy and France the Czechs weren't left to rue the miss because less than a minute later as the Turks were trying to substitute the injured Emre Gungor, Plasil made it 0-2 when he ran across Sabri to volley in Sionko's brilliant right wing cross. The Czechs were not content to sit on their lead and went looking for goal number three. Polak collected from a throw in and took out two Turks with a great reverse pass to Plasil, Plasil squared to Jarolim and he played a pass out wide to the excellent Sionko, Sionko let the ball roll into the box before centring to Plasil who slammed a first time shot against Volkan's right post, Emre Asik sliced the ball up into the air and almost beheaded Polak on the follow up. Three minutes later Arda gave the Turks a lifeline. On the half way line Altintop turned onto a pass, skipped over a tackle and flicked the ball out wide to Sabri, he made a diagonal run between two defenders onto Sabri's return pass and his centre rolled past six players before landing invitingly at Arda's feet, he struck a low first time shot which beat Cech at his near post, he should have tipped it out for a corner. Turkey won a throw in 20 yards from goal. Altintop thumped a cross into the box and Cech, under no pressure, jumped and tried to catch the ball but dropped it at Nihat's feet leaving him with an empty net. With the match headed for penalties Nihat scored a sensational winner. Tuncay flicked on an 80 yard Volkan goal kick, Ujfalusi only cleared as far as Altintop who played a great disguised pass between three defenders to Nihat, he spun onto the ball and as Cech advanced off his line whipped a fantastic right foot shot in off the underside of the crossbar. In injury time Ujfalusi launched a longball into the box, Volkan ran off his line and punched the ball away from Koller, quickly got to his feet and did enough to put off Vlcek, who headed wide of an empty net then got in Koller's face and pushed him in the chest and he rolled over in apparent agony in full view of referee Frojdfeldt who had no option but to send him off. Tuncay put on the gloves but the Czech didn't have time to mount another attack.

Low on quality, at least until the last half hour, high on drama. One of the all time great comebacks. Cech is the new Dida. The giant Brazilian never recovered from the infamous flare throwing incident just as Cech has never recovered from that disgraceful foul by that dirty bastard Stephen Hunt. Cech was at fault for Turkey's first two goals. The Turks will be more than happy at the prospect of facing Croatia instead of Germany even without their brilliant goalkeeper.

Attendance : 30,000
Red Card : Volkan 92 (Turkey)
Assists : Grygera, Sionko, n/a, n/a, Altintop

11 June 2008

SWITZERLAND 1 (Yakin 32)
TURKEY 2 (Semih Senturk 57, Arda 92)

About quarter of an hour in it started absolutely pissing down. Having denied Ronaldo in the previous match Volkan made another fantastic save from a free kick, this time diving low to his left to parry from Barnetta. Turkey went even closer from a free kick at the other end. Benaglio tipped Nihat's devilish effort against Arda and it rebounded off a post. Senderos picked out Derdiyok with a great long pass out of defence, the striker looked miles offside, Derdiyok rounded Volkan and centred to the back post, the ball rolled to halt in the sodden turn at Yakin's feet, 1-0. Two minutes later from another attack down the left, Behrami whipped a cross to the back post where an unmarked Yakin sliced wide. Miss of the tournament.

By the time the second half kicked off the rain had relented and I assume the groundsmen managed to drain some of the surface water from the pitch. Turkey's beast of a centre back, Servet, intercepted a through pass and knocked the ball into Aurelio, he brushed aside a challenge from Fernandes and sent Arda down the left flank, Arda laid the ball to Nihat who was hugging the touchline, he whipping a fantastic cross into the box and Semih Senturk got between two defenders to head through Benaglio's hands. It would have been a great goal but for the shitty goalkeeping. A flowing move started deep in the Turkey half ended with Tuncay arching a centre to Nihat who pulled clear of his marker but just failed to make contact at the back post. At the other end the hosts blew a glorious chance to restore their lead on the break. Derdiyok, who celebrates his 20th birthday tomorrow (the 12th), lead the charge from a corner, he squared the ball to Vonlanthen who inadvertently flicked on to Yakin, Volkan spilled his powder puff shot and with the goal at his mercy Cabanas steamed in but misskicked allowing Volkan to gather. Unforgivable miss. In the 92 minute BBC's colour commentator Mark Bright was vindicated for insisting the Turks should stop attacking down the right and give more of the ball to left winger Arda. Volkan closed down Cabanas as he was about to seize on a mistake by Servet, Hamit Altintop ran the ball out of the box before drilling a crossfield pass into Semih Senturk, Senturk took the ball on his chest and laid it off to Tuncay who released Arda with a brilliant pass on the turn, Arda cut infield and beat two players before unleashing a right foot rocket which took a wicked deflection off Muller before looping over the hapless Benaglio.

The first comeback victory of the tournament and a fantastic, evenly contested match. Switzerland are out. On Sunday Turkey face the Czechs for a place in the last 8. If the match ends in a draw a penalty shoot-out will determine who qualifies. Whether that encourages both teams to play for a 0-0 remains to be seen. Volkan has been the best goalkeeper in this tournament so far. Servet is an absolute monster but, ironically, he heading is weak, not in terms of distance but placement. At 27 this would be the ideal time for a move abroad.

Attendance : 42,500
Assists : Derdiyok, Nihat, n/a

CZECH REPUBLIC 1 (Sionko 17)
PORTUGAL 3 (Deco 8, Ronaldo 64, Quaresma 91)

Both teams made a lively start with the Czechs showing considerably more ambition in the opening minutes than during their previous match. Deco received possession on the half way line and drove deep into the Portuguese half before laying off to Ronaldo, Ronaldo exchanged passes with Nuno Gomes, running onto the strikers flick then past Rozenhal who should have cleared but slipped, Cech rushed off his line and made a superb tackle on Ronaldo as he was about to score but his clearance broke to Deco, Cech made a great recovery and dived at his feet, getting a hand to the ball but Deco scored at the second attempt. Sionko took advantage of slack marking to head in the equaliser from Plasil corner. Cech made a nice save for the cameras, diving to parry a speculative drive from Ronaldo late in the first half.

The rubbish Nuno Gomes and Simao missed great second half chances before Ronaldo restored Portugal's lead. Galasek gave the ball away with a sloppy pass out of defence, Petit knocked it back to Ronaldo who held off two defenders before passing to Moutinho who was clobbered as he spread the play out to Deco on the right, Deco ran into the box, cut inside a defender and toe poked the ball across goal for the onrushing Ronaldo to slam first time past Cech. Sionko missed another chance to head in an equaliser from a superb Vleck cross. Portugal added an injury time third to further rub salt in the wounds with a quickly taken free kick. Deco? dropped a 30 yard pass over the Czech defence, Ronaldo ran clear and unselfishly centred for sub Quaresma to score his first goal of the tournament. That type of generosity wins Ballon D'or awards.

Portugal's defending on set pieces will have their potential opponents licking their lips.

Attendance : 30,000
Assists : n/a, Plasil (ck), Deco, Ronaldo

7 June 2008

PORTUGAL 2 (Pepe 61, Meireles 93)

In a fairly even first half Portugal threatened from set pieces. Pepe had a 16th minute header disallowed for offside and Ronaldo slammed a free kick against the inside of a post.

In the second half Portugal's superiority began to show. Gokhan floored Simao as he put the defender under pressure on a back pass, the ball broke to Nuno Gomes and his shot hit the base of a post. Pepe finally made the breakthrough on the hour mark. The Real Madrid defender won possession in midfield before spraying out wide left to Ronaldo, Ronaldo took a few steps forward before passing the ball back 20 yards to Pepe, he ran forward, skipped a tackle, exchanged passes with Nuno Gomes as he broke into the box and shot wide of Volkan, via a deflection off Asik. Three minutes later Nuno Gomes hit the woodwork for a second time. Turkey's best chance fell to Asik on a corner but he failed to get his header on target. Mehmet Aurelio should have been sent off for a disgraceful two footed lunge on Nani. In injury time Moutinho spun onto a pass, taking out his marker in the process, and centred for substitute Meireles to tap in his first ever Portugal goal.

Deco was terrible. Servet bullied Ronaldo in the first half. In the second Ronaldo drifted out wide and got considerably more change out of Altintop.

Attendance : 31,000
Assists : Gomes, Moutinho

CZECH REPUBLIC 1 (Sverkos 71)

Alexander Frei was at the centre of all the action in an otherwise predictably poor first half. He took advantage of a mistake by Rozenhal to register the first shot of the championships but the alert Cech bailed out his defence and saved with his feet. Frei stung Cech's palms with a fierce drive which the giant goalkeeper uncharacteristically parried back in play but Streller had inexcusably ran offside. Three minutes before the break Frei went down under an innocuous Grygera challenge and left the field in tears.

Frei's injury seems to galvanise the Swiss and their supporters in the second half. Frei's replacement, Hakan Yakin, should have given his team the lead. After an hour of trying the Swiss finally managed to put in a quality cross but Yakin headed wide. Five minutes later another substitute, Sverkos, who replaced the ineffective Koller, scored with his teams only shot on goal. Magnin who looks 39 but is actually 29 lead the charge to push up and play offside as Galasek headed a clearance back into the box, Sverkos watched the ball drop on the bounce before volleying into the bottom right corner. In a frenetic passage of play the Swiss had a second penalty appeal turned down (the first should have been given), Cech denied Barnetta on the follow-up and Vonlanthen slammed the rebound against the underside of the crossbar.

Attendance : 41,000
Assist : Galasek