A game for the ages. 2-2 after extra time, Portugal advance, 6-5 on penalties.
England adopted a defensive posture after scoring in the third minute. But as often happens when using negative tactics, England succumbed late to Portugal’s unrelenting pressure.
The decision was cruel, and would have been so if Portugal had been knocked out too, such was the game.
Sol Campbell’s “winner” for England, in what must have been the 90th minute, seemed perfectly legitimate, but was disallowed by a referee who should never again judge a significant match. [Ed: that's a bit over the top isn't it? Skip: well, at the end of normal time the ref mouthed the word "push" several times and motioned as such. Now the story seems to have changed. Even so, John Terry had every right to be where he was, and should not be required to strap his left arm to his side if a keeper is floundering about the six yard box.]
[T]he referee decided that John Terry had an arm across the shoulder of Portugal’s keeper Ricardo which prevented him getting to a ball that had bounced off the bar.
Campbell and Terry were both near Ricardo at the decisive moment but England’s players were adamant there was no infringement. “I certainly don’t think it was a foul and I’ve no idea why it was disallowed,” said Terry. “I certainly didn’t foul the keeper and nor did Sol.”
Terry’s Chelsea club-mate Frank Lampard added: “We had a fair goal taken away from us which would have finished the game. The lads were obviously knackered but we came back into it and then got beaten on penalties. There was nothing wrong with Sol’s goal. The linesman actually gave it and he was running back to the halfway line but the referee disallowed it.”
Extra time brought terrific goals by Rui Costa and then Frank Lampard.
Penalty kicks followed. Beckham blew it with the very first kick, despite knowing that the pitch on the penalty spot was in terrible shape. Given his tendencies, he could have tapped it in to the keepers’ left, where he aimed, instead of blasting it over the bar.
Portugal’s penalty takers – with the exception of Costa – took a more measured approach, hitting soft but solid strikes, rather than risking blasts over the bar. Still, three of England’s spot kicks were down the middle, and Postiga’s kick for Portugal was a simple, soft chip into the heart of the goal. It appears that penalty takers – save Beckham perhaps – have made adjustments. If England’s keeper had stayed put, would they have made the semi-final?
As Paul Hayward writes, this is a trauma of a recurring nightmare. I first saw England play at Wembley in 1973 (maybe 74, but I’d have to check my scrapbook). Why is it that after all these years of frustration – more penalty shootouts that you can imagine – I still believe that England can win a major tournament, and pay more than ever to watch in hopes that they will?
England fans sing “God save the Queen,” but I say “God bless Sol Campbell.” He deserves much better. Am I right, Tottenham?