Sunday, 15 June 2008

Entertainment Galore

You can forget the astonishing football the Dutch play, you can forget the deadly Fernando Torres and David Villa partnership, and you can forget the woeful France and the pathetic attempts of the World Champions, Italy. You can forgot England’s failure to reach this summers championship, you can forget their mentors Croatia defeating the old enemy Germany, simply because tonight Czech Republic and Turkey put on one of those games which may come, at international level, every decade.

Michael Platini managed to score a brace in a comeback against Spain in 1984 and with no doubt; he would have admired this game. It had everything.

Czech Republic went ahead through Jan Koller; he even makes Peter Crouch look very small. They must have thought it will a mandatory win.

Jaroslav Plasil then slid in a second to make it seem that the Czech nation will comfortably be in the quarterfinals. How wrong they were?

Football is pretty much the only game this can happen. Turkey in the last ten minutes scored three to win the tie and send themselves into the quarters.

Arda Turan slotted home to set up a tense finale. Petr Cech then did something that he has not done in a while, he made an error, and they are very rare. He must have thought Stephen Hunt was standing behind him.

He dropped a routine cross, so routine it was like putting your socks on. He dropped it on to the feet of Turkey’s captain Nihat Kahveci. This made it two each, exciting stuff.

It looked like it was heading for history breaking penalties until a moment a pure genius, which will go down in the memories of everyone who was watching it.

Nihat managed to make a darting little run, escaped the offside trap to control a pass and with two touches he scored a goal of the utmost of quality. Dennis Bergkamp, Macro Van Basten, Thierry Henry, Gianfranco Zola, Platini, this was in your class. 3-2 you could not have written this better.

To make it even more remarkable, Turkey had to stick Middlesborough’s Tuncay Sanli in goal for the dying minutes as goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was sent off for pushing Koller to the ground. No mean feat in itself.

Smash and Grab does not even come close to this. It is an honour to this competition that this sublime worth of talent and football is being played. It shows us why this is the best game in the world. Let us hope this entertainment continues.

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