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Now THAT is World Cup Soccer!

Two world-class teams. Both handicapped without top players. Both overcoming adversity to play fantastic football.

The Argentine referee was fantastic. I wish all FIFA's referees were this good. He only pulled out cards when they were merited. He did not interrupt the flow of the game except for obvious fouls. He let the players play and never lost control of the game.

In the second half, Wayne Rooney, possibly England's best player, received a red card. He stepped on a Portuguese player's crotch right in front of the ref, then shoved another Portuguese player (again in front of the ref), and then kept yapping his mouth at the ref. Rooney was asking for that red card.

England was down a player, but they stepped up their play. There were stretches, especially from the 85th minute till the end of regulation, where they seemed the better team. They went up in my estimation. Left everything out on the pitch and never stopped fighting, despite their disadvantage in numbers.

Both teams played fantastic ball. None of the stupid diving that gives soccer a bad name. When someone went down, they were fouled hard. These players did not want to go down and often fought to stay on their feet and keep at the ball.

A Portuguese player finally found the back of the net in the second extra period…but he was offsides. The game ended 0-0.

Normally I don't like penalty kicks. I like the players to win it on the pitch. I want them to keep playing until someone scores a goal or they drop from exhaustion. But this was a shootout for the ages!

Portugal went first, and scored. Of course. No one ever misses at penalty kicks, and the goalkeepers rarely make saves.

It was England's turn. Portugal's Super Man, Ricardo, stopped the shot. Portugal led 1-0.

Portugal's turn. They could take an insurmountable lead. But the kicker missed! He hit the goalpost!!!

England had a chance to equalize. Owen Hargreave took the shot. Super Man Ricardo guessed right again and got a hand on the ball, but Hargreave's kick was too powerful even for Super Man, finding the back of the net. 1-1.

Portugal's turn. And they somehow, improbably, managed to find the goalpost again!!!

England could take the lead. No one ever comes from behind in penalty kicks, yet here England could do it. But Super Man stopped another shot.

Fourth frame, and Portugal's shot. Past the goalkeeper, who guessed wrong.

And now Callagher, who had been subbed in just before penalty kicks for the sole purpose of taking a shot, had an opportunity to keep England alive. But there was no kryptonite in Germany, and Super Man Ricardo stopped another shot!

And now—oh, the irony!—Cristiano Ronaldo stood in front of the goal with a chance to send Portugal on to the Semifinals. Four years ago, Scolari's Brazilian team faced Erickson's English team. The game went to penalty kicks, and Brazil's Ronaldo won the game for Scolari. Now Scolari's Portugal faced Erickson's England in penalty kicks and Portugal's Ronaldo was taking the final shot.

He did not disappoint.

Portugal advances to the Semifinals.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bex77
Jul. 2nd, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
Here in East Cambridge, we could definitely tell that Portugal had won! There was a caravan of cars, people waving huge Portuguese flags out the windows, honking horns and flashing their lights and shouting at passers-by! Very festive!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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