Sunday, July 2


England's World Cup dreams end at the quarter-finals in the cruellest way - a penalty shoot out following extra time (2/7/06; photo from The Sun). The team played heroically weathering Wayne Rooney's ejection for stomping on the balls of Portugal's Ricardo Carvalho (red card; 10 on 11) and without captain Beckham due to injury. Despite the player disadvantage England kept the score nil-nil through regular time and two overages. Owen Hargraves, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville played decently and goal-keeper Paul Robinson above his average. Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon came off the bench and nearly pulled an historic victory but, alas - the penalty kicks decided the game and we missed three of four attempts from 10 yards out. Sadly this was the same outcome in the '04 game vs Portugal (the most exciting I have ever watched) and before that Argentina (World Cup '98), Germany ('96), and West Germany ('90). Thus ends the run of perhaps England's best assembled team ever... at least on paper.