Saturday 19 June
Hungary 1:1 France
It is not just England who are thrashed by minnows. Admittedly neither England nor France actually lost but the clamour for the victors is no quieter for that.
N’Golo Kanté played his usual, metronomic role occasionally feeding the forward players but his probings couldn’t make the French strikers more efficient. France wasted dozens of chances before falling behind to Attila Fiola determined run, one-two and shot.
Antoine Griezmann netted, to the relief of all France, an equaliser.
Portugal 2:4 Germany
It is always good to see Ronaldo on the losing side and Germany resurgent, Kai on the scoresheet and Rüdiger still battling.
The offside rule though is broken. Germany had a good goal chalked off because a player tried to play the ball, while Portugal were allowed to score despite Ronaldo drawing the defence toward him while offside.
The game was marred by incompetent refereeing throughout as, our own, Anthony Taylor actually awarded a free-kick for Portugal when one of their defenders leapt two footed into a studs-up challenge.
Kai Havertz appeared to have volleyed in to restore parity but Rúben Dias’s foot actually sent the ball into the net.
Dias was the chump handed all the footballer of the year awards that should have been Mason Mount’s.
The goal inspired the Germans, A second own goal as Raphael Guerreiro turned the ball in turned the tie on it head and Kai’s first goal proper was a tap-in from Robin Gosens’ third assist – if you can be said to assist own-goals – Gosens capped the performance by heading in the fourth. We hope Reece was watching and is inspired to follow the lead.
Spain 1:1 Poland
Robert Lewandowski headed Poland back into the tournament and left Spain trailing. The comedy of errors that is the current Spain squad was best summed up by the penalty, awarded for an accidental contact after the ball had gone – if that was a penalty then Sterling should have had one at Wembley – Gerard Moreno slammed his effort back off the post and Alvaro Morata ballooned the follow up wide, with the empty net gaping.
Poland have to beat Sweden to progress in their last and Spain have to try to get something from Slovakia.
Sunday 20 June
Italy 1:0 Wales
Ethan Ampadu was sent off for an inadvertent tread on an ankle. It was possibly clumsy and a yellow but the commentators went into meltdown about why Ampadu “had done that”. He didn’t do anything, he was stretching for the ball and mistimed the tackle. It wasn’t malicious, dangerous or out of control, it shouldn’t have been a red. And, again, Raheem Sterling had his foot trodden on in exactly the same way against Scotland, in the box, and VAR didn’t even review it.
Before the card that shouldn’t have been Ethan had played his part in trying to keep the Italian attack quiet. A more difficult task than it looked.
By virtue of the Swiss having collapsed against Italy Wales sail through as group runners up.
The difference between England and Italy is simply that the Italians look like they have practiced attacking combinations, overlaps, switching play, whereas England look like they’ve discussed a structure but not what should happen within it. Tactics eh, one of these years we’ll catch up.
Switzerland 3:1 Turkey
Turkey did at least score a goal in the tournament buy slump out after three really poor performances. Switzerland have an excellent chance of going through as one of the best third placed teams.
Monday 21 June
Billy Gilmour has the worst luck. Just as he burst onto the European scene and he tests positive for Covid and will isolate for ten days. It means he misses the Scots game against Croatia. Covid has been tripping up the young Scot’s career more than most as he burst into the Chelsea team just before the first lockdown and will now miss the rest of Scotland’s tournament. Uh, unless they struggle through.
The rest of the Scotland squad and the England squad have all tested negative.
Ukraine 0:1 Austria
The result means the Austrians, with their weird fascist spider emblem, will play Italy in Wembley. We know, it is a Nazi eagle but whoever designed it was on dried frog pills.
North Macedonia 0:3 Netherlands
The Macedonians have had some fun and said goodbye to Goran Pandev who retired from international football after 20-years and 28 goals in 122 caps. At 37 the Genoa striker is probably the last person born in 1983 who will ever appear at a tournament.
The Dutch have buried criticisms of their coach and 3-5-2 and look a real danger.
Russia 1:4 Denmark
Andreas Christensen score a scorcher for the Dane’s third but with a full house roaring them on the Russians didn’t stand a chance. The legacy of Christian Eriksen to this competition will be a cracker between Wales and Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday night.
The Danes took the lead in the first-half with a cracker from Mikkel Damsgaard before the Russian defence, Zobnin, passed the ball straight to Yussuf Poulsen who tapped in the second. It isn’t often the scorer gets a beer shower when he scores.
A dubious penalty, issued by the worst referee so far, was all Russia managed. Christensen’s strike, and he really caught it, was followed almost immediately by Joakim Maehle’s fine strike for four.
In all this time without crowds sometimes you had to wonder what behind closed doors football was for but tonight reaffirmed how brilliant this game is with a passionate crowd and a party atmosphere.
Finland 0:2 Belgium
The Red Devils finally overcame the Finns spirited resistance and on the day Manchester City bid £100m – plus players – for Harry Kane, the England captain will have noted just how many balls De Bruyne feeds through to Lukaku for the national side.
The results mean that England have already qualified for the knockout stages. If the wheels fall off against the Czechs and we finish third we are guaranteed a place