Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 2 - England vs USA

There's nothing quite like watching England in the World Cup. There really aren't any comparable experiences - something that, in the hours and even days leading up to the start of a 90-minute event makes you sick with excitement; something that creates a tangible buzz around every and any town you walk around and turns the TV into a blaring crate of giddy idiots and people like Adrian Chiles and Gary Lineker saying things like "OK, here we go people, hold on tight."

Watching England at the World Cup is like queuing up for 3 hours to go on a roller coaster whose track you can't quite see - only to get to the front of the queue to find out that, just like last time, it's excruciatingly painful, depressingly slow and familiarly tedious - like riding the South West Trains service to Feltham while a dentist pokes around your teeth, tutting.

But tonight, it all started so well. England began brightly - and instantly it was clear that they were intent on playing decent football; and after only 4 minutes Emile Heskey was able to knock the ball down for Steven Gerrard to finish impressively and make the score 1-0. The first half went on, and while the team were hardly electrifying to watch, they were playing well in a way they simply hadn't in the recent friendlies against Mexico, Japan and the mighty Platinum Stars.

Just before half time, Fulham's Clint Dempsey tried a long-range effort that even he was surely expecting Robert Green to gather without a second's thought. As it turns out, the ball bounced out of Green's waiting hands and spun behind him - leaving the goalkeeper crawling after the ball for an agonising second as the ball bounced inexorably across the line. My reaction was, I have no doubt, exactly the same as everyone else watching. ", Robert." 1-1.

It's not England's first goalkeeping howler and nor will it be the last. And like the last time it happened, during qualifying for Euro 2008, it's still hard to completely blame the man between the sticks. These things happen. But - it happened. To England. Again.

And England never bounced back from it (though Green picked himself up sufficiently to tip a decent shot onto the bar later in the second half) - the worst moment of which being Heskey sullying his decent night's performance by going one-on-one with Tim Howard only to, predictably, play the ball right at him.

So it finished 1-1 - and it's hard to know how to feel. It was another sickening, literally unenjoyable train ride to Feltham - but there are plenty of positives to take away. England actually played well, and should have nothing to fear from Algeria or Slovenia. As Gerrard said after the game, the target is now 7 points - and if England fail to get them, they probably shouldn't be at the World Cup at all.

Man of the Match: Gerrard - a true captain's performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment