Thursday, June 12, 2008

Euro 2008: Day 5

Portugal 3-1 Czech Republic
Cristiano Ronaldo and co. have made easy work of the group stages so far. They got off to a good start in this game as well, with an early goal. Ronaldo was played into the box via a one-two with Nuno Gomes; Petr Cech did well to just barely tip the ball away from him, but it fell to Deco and he scrambled it across the goal line. Libor Sionko equalized for the Czech Republic less than 10 minutes later, getting up well to power in a header from a corner.

The Czechs certainly looked more lively than they did against Switzerland in their opening game, but they weren't effective enough up front. Apparently we got the Premiership Milan Baros (i.e., lots of headless chicken running) rather than the Euro 2004 version that actually knows how to put the ball in the net. I suppose it didn't help that he was pretty isolated up front. Anyway, in the absence of goals, much of the middle section of the game involved niggly fouls, people randomly falling over and whining at the ref, and Portuguese players preening in their skintight white kits. I have to admit, they kind of looked nice with Ronniecakes' shiny green boots.

Speaking of preening: Ronaldo, after 63 minutes, scoring the winning goal for Portugal. They were awarded yet another free kick, and this one was sent wide to Deco, who set up Ronaldo at the top of the box, and he slotted it through a crowd of defenders and past the keeper. And then followed that up a little while later by squabbling with Simao over who'd get to take a free kick. Silly boy, doesn't he know that it's always Ronaldo's turn to shank it into the wall? The Czechs had a few more chances to pull themselves back into the game, but couldn't take advantage. Instead Portugal added a third goal in stoppage time, after a quick free kick that set Ronaldo free behind the defence. He drew Petr Cech out and then squared it to Ricardo Quaresma for an easy finish. It wasn't all about Ronaldo in this game -- Deco, for one, played very well too -- but it is hard to look past the gel-monkey right now.

Turkey 2-1 Switzerland
This could have been a very dull match (I didn't watch the whole thing, actually), but it was enlivened by the torrential rain that turned the pitch into a gigantic slip-and-slide. Switzerland opened the scoring after half an hour with a long ball to Eren Derdiyok, who rounded the keeper and then squared it to Hakan Yakin -- only for the ball to stop in a puddle along the way before he could poke it over the line.

They weren't able to hold on to their lead, though. Substitute Senturk Semih equalized for Turkey partway through the second half, attacking a cross from the left and getting up ahead of the defender for the header. Switzerland still had hopes of hanging on for a draw, but they were sucker-punched by a Turkish counter-attack in stoppage time, as Turan Arda's shot from the edge of the box was deflected past Diego Benaglio in goal. It was a devastating result for the Swiss, who have had absolutely no luck in this tournament. Unfortunately, they lacked the firepower up front to take advantage of Turkey's periodic defensive lapses -- Yakin, for example, missed a great chance just after the first goal. I am a bit disappointed by the lack of post-game fighting, but I guess they were all just too waterlogged.

Anyway, Switzerland have been eliminated, while Portugal have guaranteed their spot in the quarter-finals as group winners. The Czech Republic and Turkey face each other in their final group game to decide which of them will move on. They both have identical records so far, which means that the winner goes through; if there's a tie, it will be decided by penalty kicks, according to UEFA:

Should two teams or more from the same group finish with an equal number of points, they will be ranked based on the following criteria:

- Number of points earned in matches between the teams in question;
- Goal difference in matches between the teams in question;
- Goals scored in matches between the teams in question;
- Goal difference in all group matches;
- Goals scored in all group matches;
- * In cases where exactly two teams are equal in all previously listed criteria and play one another to a draw in their final group match, kicks from the penalty mark will be conducted in lieu of the remaining criteria;
- UEFA coefficient;
- Fair play conduct of the teams in the group stage;
- Drawing of lots.

Next up in Group A: Turkey v. Czech Republic and Portugal v. Switzerland, both kicking off at 2:30 pm on Sunday

Bad hair of the day award: The Czech's Tomas Ujfalusi, for a combination of long, lank hair and a sketchy goatee that makes him look like he belongs in a biker bar

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