Euro 2004: Quarter-Finals, Portugal 2 – England 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
June 24th, 2004 • 11:26 pm

Well, Eriksson can complain about the condition of the penalty spot where the penalties had to be taken from last night all he wants, it won’t change anything to the fact that: 1) everyone, including the Portuguese players, had to take their penalty from the same spot; 2) things might not have gone to penalty kicks had he changed his team’s tactics from protecting their slender 1-0 lead for about 80 minutes to actually trying to get a second goal and put the game beyond Portugal.

The two regular halves were really very boring, much like they were in the opening England – France game, because England didn’t really try to play. They got their first goal early through a bad mistake by the Portuguese defense and a nice flick by Michael Owen, but then what did they do? They defended fairly well for 80 minutes, but with only a 1-0 lead, you are always taking a risk. They took the risk, and were ultimately made to pay for it.

Of course, the Wayne Rooney injury after 27 minutes was a major blow, but that’s what happens when you rely on a single player to lift the whole team. Without Rooney, the English team was fairly ordinary, and that was in evidence again last night. There was nothing particularly impressive about the performances of the likes of Lampard, Scholes, Gerrard, etc. They never really delivered during this tournament, with the possible exception of the game against Croatia.

The overtime periods were of course much more exciting, with the help of the “silver goal” rule, which meant that the Portuguese goal by Rui Costa early in the second half was not enough, and that England were able to draw level again a handful of minutes before the end.

Finally, the penalty kicks were highly dramatic as usual, with Beckham completely missing his, with Rui Costa going from hero to zero by missing his and making things level again for England. Ultimately, victory went to the time with the greatest amount of gall. After saving his team and proving all his Premier League critics wrong with his equalizer late in the second half of regular time, Postiga scored the cheekiest of penalty kicks when he could easily gone from hero to zero himself. And then the Portuguese keeper Ricardo finally produced the first penalty save of the evening, and went on to take the next penalty himself and bury it in the most convincing fashion.

It’s cruel, but someone has to win… and at some point everyone in England has to admit that this Eriksson-managed team, especially without Rooney, lacks some of the flamboyance and daring that make great performances and produce great wins. They have nothing to be ashamed of, but at the same time you cannot help but feel that the strategy and tactics were often too conservative. And for that, the blame ultimately rests on Eriksson’s own shoulders.

3 Responses to “Euro 2004: Quarter-Finals, Portugal 2 – England 2”

  1. vaag says:

    I fully agree with you. It was funny to watch the BBC (Lineker & Co. and others) and hear them complaining about almost everything (penalty spot, referee, disallowed goal) except their own coach’s tactics. They really should look at home first. Basically Eriksson beliefs that his team will receive less goals than that of his opponent. He plays with two rigid defensive blocks of four and two wandering ones in front (he substitutes Scholes and Gerrard for Neville and Hargreaves, going from a defensive to an even more defensive attitude; for Eriksson this surely makes sense). On the contrary, Scolari thinks that his team will be capable of making at least one goal more that that of his opponent (thus he takes out defenders for attacking players). This is a fundamental difference in attitude.
    Eriksson attitude towards the game is an aberration of the good old cattenacio: cattenacio without a sweeper. Eriksson is Helenio Herrera reincarnated.
    Since 1966 England didn’t manage to kick a dent in a pound of butter. That’s a shame for such a big country. They should fire Eriksson and kick him back to Sweden.

  2. Andrew says:

    England played very negatively in that match, allowed Portugal to come at them time and again. We defended well, and snuffed out most of their attacks. However, we should have put the game beyond doubt well before then, with the quality players we have, we should have buried the Portuguese long before they equalised.

    Sven is the best manager we have had in a long long time. He has made a very tough team, but with little “team flair”… Very Italian in it’s style of play, difficult to beat, but we just don’t win enough…

    The disallowed goal… well, it should have stood, but hey, life goes on. Hopefully all our bad luck and negativity will have been used up in this tournament. Roll on Germany 2006!

  3. vaag says:

    >well, it should have stood

    Maybe in England, but certainly not in the rest of Europe!

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