19 June 2012
SWEDEN 2 (Ibrahimovic 54, Larsson 91)
France had the first chance in the opening 10 minutes, Ribery drawing a save from Isaksson from a difficult angle. Toivonen failed to punish a mistake by, who else, Mexes. He was done on a longball, Lloris forced Toivonen wide but he still managed to find the angle for a shot, but the ball struck the outside of the right post. Wilhelmsson wriggled from of the persistent Debuchy and swung a high cross to the right of the six yard box and Lloris made a strong save from Larsson. Kallstrom played a one-two with Ibrahimovic before dribbling upfield in slow motion and passing wide to Holmen, the midfielder hit a high cross into the box and Ibrahimovic, standing a couple of yards inside the box, leapt in the air and slammed a scissor kick into the bottom right corner. Goal of the tournament, even better than Balotelli's strike against Ireland. Ibrahimovic played a divine pass inside two defenders to Toivonen but once again Lloris cut off the angles and saved. The goal of the tournament was followed by the save of the tournament. Mellberg attacked a corner with a silly mid-air back heel volley, Lloris made an incredible, back breaking, one handed save. Ribery laid off a Menez pass to Malouda, Malouda returned the ball to Menez as he broke into the box but his scuffed, angled drive was saved by Isaksson's feet. Giroud, on for M'Vila, got a clear sight of goal from the resulting corner but headed over. Clichy went walkabout down the left allowing Wilhelmsson to hang a cross into the box, Holemen volleyed the ball into the ground and Larsson hammered it into the net after it came back off the crossbar.
Merde. The best thing about the French? Their national anthem. Their long unbeaten run has come to an emphatic end. Mexes is out of the quarter-finals, which is a blessing but France look very shot on ideas. Benzema continues to be a huge, huge chocker. At 24 he should be lighting up tournaments like this. Scoring goals in La Liga doesn't really mean anything. Ibrahimovic was the standout player in the group and arguably of the tournament but he can't do it all by himself. Sweden's midfield is a one paced disaster. The Swedes better hope Guidetti develops if they don't want a repeat at the next World Cup.
Attendance : 63,010
Assists : Larsson, n/a
ENGLAND 1 (Rooney 48)
A Terry longball found Young in space on the left, he swung in a fantastic cross to Rooney but he headed wide from six yards. Milevski spun onto a Devic pass as Lescott briefly appealed for offside, Milevskyi in turn found Yarmolenko making a run in from the right but faced with Cole he understandably didn't have the courage to take him on and rushed his shot which Hart easily saved. Gerrard drove in a cross, a Ukrainian defender took the pace off the ball, Pyatov contrived to fail to catch it and Rooney headed in at the back post. A short corner was worked to Yarmolenko, no less than seven England players ball watched his cross land on Milevskyi's head and he missed from six yards. Shocking defending and even worse miss. A minute later Ukraine scored. With his back to play Milevski turned on a longball to Devic, Devic checked inside Terry sending him hopelessly the wrong way and drove a low shot at goal, Hart was quick off his line and blocked, the ball spun in the air and dropped over the line as Terry hacked it clear. The goal wasn't given despite the presence of the extra official on the line. Konoplyanka knocked Hart off his feet with a violent shot from 30 yards, Lescott made a fantastic clearance with Milevskyi ready to snare the rebound.
Attendance : 48,700
Assist : n/a
15 June 2012
SWEDEN 2 (Mellberg 49, Mellberg 59)
ENGLAND 3 (Carroll 23, Walcott 64, Wellbeck 78)
Gerrard swung in a deep cross from the left and Carroll got tremendous hang time as he directed a bullet header into the bottom left corner, fantastic goal. Ibrahimovic blasted a free kick into the England wall then jumped up and volleyed the rebound, the ball broke to Mellberg and he took a touch before firing past Hart and in off Johnson. Larsson swung in a high, arcing free kick over to the back post and old man Mellberg got above Johnson to head the Swedes in front. Walcott came on for Milner on 61 minutes and turned the game upside down but not before Isaksson made a Gordon Banks style point blank save to deny Terry after Johnson put in a brilliant, un-defendable ball. Jonas Olsson headed a Young corner to the edge of the D, Walcott took a touch before blasting a right foot shot into the roof of the net. Fantastic strike. Ibrahimovic forced a great save from Hart with a thumping drive from distance. Johnson played in Walcott on the overlap, he ran inside two defenders taking the ball to his right and whipped in a centre and Wellbeck scored with a deft mid-air back heel, similar to the goal Ibrahimovic scored against Italy at Euro 2004. Three super goals from England. Walcott even did his bit in defence, he headed a longball up to Parker on the half way line, he controlled it with a lovely touch before sending a ball down the right, Gerrard made a run inside as Walcott ran the channel, Walcott chipped a ball upto the back post and Gerrard's volley slammed into Isakson's chest.
The second half was an indication of what this England attack is capable of when they are allowed to unleash their freakish pace. Rooney will be back for the Ukraine game, it's going to be a long night for the co-hosts. Looking further ahead I'd fancy England's chances against any side in group C. While they looked suspect on set plays Spain don't have the aerial threat the Swedes carry. They'll try to pick their way through the middle and that's where England are strongest. Croatia I don't rate at all. England should wipe the floor with them. Italy would probably give them more trouble based on how they line-up, if there isn't a biscotto between Spain and Croatia to send them out. As long as these idiots behave themselves England could go far in this tournament.
Attendance : 64,640
Assists : Gerrard, n/a, Larsson, n/a, Walcott
FRANCE 2 (Menez 53, Cabaye 56)
God provided the first half entertainment with an awe inspiring thunderstorm which caused the game to be suspended for an hour 5 minutes after it kicked off. Great job by the referee Kuipers.
Ribery outran a defender onto a terrible back pass from Tymoshchuk and fired in a centre which Menez blasted straight at Pyatov. Selin hit a longball down the left to Shevchenko, he headed the ball into his path and from a difficult let rip with a half volley which Lloris saved. Pyatov made an excellent point blank save to deny Mexes from a free kick. Benzema sprayed a pass out to Menez, he pushed the ball inside a defender onto his left foot and shot low past Pyatov. Benzema spun onto a pass and split the Ukrainian defence with a ball between their centrebacks to Cabaye and he squeezed a low shot into the left corner. Cabaye almost scored a second but his shot rebounded off a post.
Attendance : 48,000
Assists : Benzema, Benzema
11 June 2012
UKRAINE 2 (Shevchenko 55, Shevchenko 61)
SWEDEN 1 (Ibrahimovic 52)
Shevchenko ran clear of the awful Swedish defence, which shows just how slow they are, onto a Yah Mo B There (up and over) pass but from the right side of the box he pulled his shot wide of the opposite corner. Voronin, who had an excellent game, fed Shevchenko with a ball in between two defenders, his initial effort was charged down but he headed the rebound across goal and a desperate block denied Yah Mo B There (up and over). Elm found Ibrahimovic unmarked on the back post with a great crossfield pass but his header bounced off the right post. Dead ball specialist Larsson (I had a dead ball once, I had to sit down) swung over a cross to Kallstrom, he rolled a centre across goal and Ibrahimovic flicked out a foot to score. A goal by Milan new was followed by two goals from Milan old. Shevchenko scored with a terrific diving header. He throw himself at Yah Mo B There (up and over)'s cross, getting in front of Mellberg, and powered his header into the bottom right corner. Six minutes later Kerplunk swung in a corner from the left and Shevchenko got in front of Ibrahimovic to head in the winning goal at the near post. Ibrahimovic headed a longball to Elm, he laid it off with a back heel volley and Ibrahimovic's rasping right foot shot crashed against the awful Pyatov. Elmander, unfit but on for the awful Rosenberg, played a double one-two with Ibrahimovic, on the second occasion Ibrahimovic laid off the ball with a delicate flick over the Ukrainian defence but Elmander volleyed wide.
An awful first half but brilliant second. Sweden are dire. Their giant defenders are hopeless in the air and milk turns quicker. Good Lord they were bad. Kallstrom is the only midfielder with an eye for a pass but he's no Pirlo. Also with Elmander recovering from a broken toe why on Earth didn't Hamren (who looks like ITV Newsreader Mark Austin) call-up Guidetti instead of the awful Rosenberg? Once Wilhelmsson replaced Larsson and injected pace down the left, Ukraine's defence crumbled. England and France should wipe the floor with both these sides unless they have gold on the bench which I find hard to believe. I feel bad for Ibrahimovic. I don't think there's been so much disparity in a national side between one player and the rest of his team-mates since Best lined up for Northern Ireland.
Attendance : 64,290
Assists : Kallstrom, Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka
ENGLAND 1 (Lescott 30)
FRANCE 1 (Nasri 39)
Young slipped a ball between Mexes and Debuchy, Milner made a diagonal ran past Evra, rounded Lloris with an excellent first touch and with the goal gaping shot wide, a Torres like finish. Gerrard swung in a free kick from the right and Klingon Lescott lost the giant Diarra to head England into the lead. Diarra almost made amends when he floored Hart with a powerful header from a Nasri free kick then spurned a chance after Ribery headed the rebound back across goal. Nasri, who had troubled Hart with a shot at the near post in the 10th minute, equalised via the same route.
In a sterile second half the main talking point was Rizzoli, awful in the Milan derby, letting the French get away with a checking and pushing, how ironic for the ITV commentary team to complain about that given the nature of football in the EPL. The desperately disappointing Benzema drew a comfortable save from Hart mid-way through the second half and finally troubled him with the last kick of the game but Hart parried then recovered.
England are going to be very difficult to break down. I would love to see them repeat a Chelsea-Barcelona performance against Spain, as they did earlier in the year in a (pointless) friendly. Typical, two of the poorest Man City players scored the goals.
Attendance : 47,400
Assists : Gerrard (fk), Ribery