England was leading Portugal 1-0 after 27 minutes in yesterday’s European Championship quarter final match, when 18 year-old sensation Wayne Rooney had to leave the match with a broken bone in his foot. Eventually, after 90 minutes plus 30 minutes of overtime, the score was 2-2. The match thus went to the tie-breaking penalty kick shoot out, which England lost 6-5. Poor David Beckham missed his second penalty kick of the tournament. I was on the road yesterday and didn’t see the match. I will watch it tonight on tape, or at least the first 27 minutes.
Penalty kick shoot outs are the most wrenching thing I know of in sports. Imagine an NBA playoff series being determined by a foul shooting contest, and you can see what I mean. The problem is that, with no time-outs, very limited substitutions, and non-stop running, soccer matches can’t realistically be allowed to continue indefinitely. In the old days, they used to replay drawn matches in the knock out rounds, but modern television scheduling apparently prevents this now.
The penalty kick tie-breaker hasn’t been kind to England. Since 1990, they have been eliminated from four major competitions (Euro Championships or World Cups) by this device. During that period, I believe they have survived penalty kicks just once.
With England and Germany out of the tournament, my attitiude now is basically “anyone but France.” However, France heads into today’s quarterfinals against Greece the way they started — as favorites to win the tournament.
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