Right after the match, there’s very strong temptation to blast Lampard and Eriksson for England’s defeat.
What makes the defeat harder is not that England played poorly, but that many players had their games of the tournament tonight. Owen Hargreaves was simply superb, and so were Terry, Ferdinand and Robinson.
England still made the same old, same old glaring mistakes, with Beckham hardly seeing the ball on the right and Lampard…well, Lampard doing only what he has done throughout the tournament – miss chances. Between him and Crouch they have had to have taken at least 40 shots on goal in the tournament, and they ended up scoring only 1 goal between them.
The Chelsea midfielder has had an outstanding couple of seasons, his form rising in the 2003/2004 season and staying at its high levels for Chelsea till this World Cup began. You would ordinarily expect Lampard to score from the chances he’s had, like he’s done it so many times for Chelsea. But international football is a different game and England’s formation troubles, the pressures of performaing at such a high level for so long and some really shoddy tactics by Sven Goran Eriksson led to Lampard missing, missing, and then missing again.
I’ll try to get a video of the Rooney incident, as well as the celebrations at the end of the match – the Portugal players put on quite a show, although it was all tears for the England fans. Ferdinand, Terry, Beckham, Neville, Lampard, Gerrard – to a man you cannot fault England for effort.
But really, you can’t say the better team won here. Portugal were assured and composed in their penalty taking, but both Lampard and Gerrard had already had bad games, and Carragher is not England’s regular penalty-taker. Lennon would have been a much better choice.
And with the chances Lampard and Crouch missed, you wonder when this run of choking in key games will end. Eriksson’s departure means that now Steve McClaren will take over in August, and while preparations for Euro 2008 will start right away England will look back to tonight as the time when all their fears came true – They were the better team, but still ended up losing because of stupid mistakes.
A full analysis will have to wait for tomorrow. But really, really…
They say that football is more than just a game – and if you saw the tears on the faces of England players you’d know this was a match that England should have won, and a tournament where England should be in the semi-finals.