At the beginning of the tournament you would’ve been hard-pressed to find anyone who believed that the two big names of Group C wouldn’t make it through to the knockout stage (sorry Ireland), but it wasn’t the cake-walk many thought it would be. Until the 88th minute when Jesus Navas put Spain ahead, it looked like the top three would finish on equal points with only goal difference shoving Croatia into 3rd place; but Spain’s victory and Italy’s 2-0 defeat of Ireland was enough to eliminate the Croats, despite their keeper going up for a late free kick. (That almost always works, doesn’t it?)
The Irish, of course, were never really competitive and settled at the bottom of the group with no points. They did however have the best fans – which doesn’t actually count for anything, but, you know, congratulations on that – and received the Gary Lineker stamp of approval when he said “they fought their hearts out” – which also means absolutely nothing.
Attention turns to the final games of Group D and the culmination of the group stage, where our final contestants will find out if they’re going home immediately, or going home after getting beaten by Spain and Italy in the next round.
Really should be more positive to avoid sounding like Mark Bright.
Speaking of Mark Bright, the Diana Ross of football punditry was not happy that he was made to go through the standard security check on his way into the ground before Spain v Croatia. In his commentary on BBC 1, Mark bitterly complained that he was subjected to the kind of treatment that the peasants who aren’t world famous ex-Sheffield Wednesday strikers are subjected too. With his voice full of scorn, Brighty said: “You don’t see journalists throwing flares on the pitch, do you?”
Italy (2nd place) 2 - 0 Rep. of Ireland (eliminated)
Croatia (eliminated) 0 - 1 Spain (1st place)
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