Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Spain v Portugal

Spain 1 Villa 63
Portugal 0

I took a day off before I wrote this one. I've been writing about football fairly much all the time I haven't been watching it, and it suddenly dawned on me it was nineteen days since I'd been further than the Tesco round the corner.

So I got on my bike and went down to the city. I was a bit nervous at first, but it all seemed to be where I'd left it. You've even added a couple of new bits. Shops, taxis, swing bridges, emergency services, you've kept them going right through the World Cup. Well done.

It was lovely to sit down by the harbour with a coffee and a burger and do the crossword in the paper while people chugged, sailed and rowed all around me. I didn't even mind the lack of football. It turns out that four to six hours a day for nineteen days in a row is actually enough. Football: a bit like cocaine, but much more like custard.

Unfortunately, the down side of a day off is that when you do finally get round to writing up a game report, your notes can seem a little thin. 12 short corner, Torres shoots just over, 15 wide right, unlucky, it says. I really don't recall, so I'm going to have to take my word for it. So, Torres was unlucky after twelve minutes when his shot from the right hand edge of the box went just over after Spain caught Portugal napping with a short corner, I'm going to write. And now I have.

There are some moments I remember with startling clarity. Ronaldo pushed by Piquet, no foul, I enjoyed that. Shortly followed by my favourite moment of the World Cup so far, Ronaldo quite clearly fouled, blatantly pushed over, nothing given ha ha twat. Truly these are great days we're living through.

Not for Ronaldo, though, or for Portugal. Tuesday in particular wasn't their day at all. They'd clearly been told to go out there and defend, and they kept two lines of four most of the time with Wonder Boy on his own up front. It worked for them for an hour, which is how long the tactic usually works for, but in the end the constant pressure wears you down and you crack.

It started with a diving header for Llorente, who'd come on for the unfit Torres. The defence seemed to just let him go, and if he'd managed to put it either side of the keeper it would have been in.

A minute later, and Villa's shot from the edge of the box just curled wide. They'd defended well, the Portugese, the keeper was doing everything asked of him, they'd even had a few chances themselves, but you could feel the momentum build.

The goal came two minutes later. The ball came through to Xavi in the box, his little back heel flick was so subtle you had to check the replay to be sure he'd made contact, but it just gave it the slight vector and momentum shift to land it perfectly in Villa's path. Eduardo saved the first shot, but the rebound came back to Villa, who made no mistake with his second.

It looked fractionally offside to me, but you'd be hard pressed to work up any sense of outrage for a poor and unambitious Portugal side, especially one with Ronaldo in it. At the end they may have been the victims of another injustice, when Costa was sent off for elbowing Capdevila. Replays were inconclusive, an odd thing to say about an incident where one player elbows another in the face, but it was genuinely hard to tell if there was contact or not from what we saw.

The whistle blew soon after, and that was that. So, Spain go marching on, and Portugal go home. Bye Ronaldo. Bye bye. Twat.

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