Somebody is a sore loser.
So the first half was shaky enough already and then the Mexicans scored and so up until the 88th minute I thought “this is it, we’re going home. And then Sneijder scored a wonder goal to keep us in, Robben did his usual dancing around the box, tripped over a defender’s leg and got a fortunate penalty, roughly like this:
And of course it was Klaas Jan Huntelaar, left on the sidelines until now, who took the penalty and scored. Watching the buildup was as nerve wrecking as anything I’d ever seen in football, so tense I had to call my mum, who was also watching. And then of course it was buttock clenching time until the end whistle went.
But we did it.
So Costa Rica surprised everybody except those paying attention by beating Italy 1-0, sealing England’s early exit from the Worldcup. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin.
But should we really be surprised that England didn’t qualified from the group stages? They’re after all a decentish team which had the bad luck to be drawn into the same group as a great team rebuilding itself (Italy), another decent to good team with some world class players which went much further in the last Worldcup than everybody thought possible (Uruguay) as well as a team that should’ve been there just to make up the numbers but turned out to hold their own against a team that supposed to beat them (Costa Rica).
Both the idea that England should of course qualify from this group and the idea that now it seems unlikely they will, some sort of special circumstances need to be found to explain this are a symptom of how overrated England is.
Spain is the surprise knockout because they won an European Cup, World Cup and another European Cup one after another, had therefore arguably been the best team in the world for the best part of a decade. When Italy and France were knocked out in the previous tournament, these had been WC winners/contenders not long before.
England on the other hand has been striving for mediocrity for most of that time, not noticeably better than a team like Poland, Portugal or Greece. Had they had a bit of better luck this game they could’ve qualified, but their luck was back so they didn’t.
Par for the course.
So that was unexpected. Like a lot of people I was worried getting into this game, a rematch of the 2010 Worldcup Final, with Holland playing Spain again. Our team had gotten worse in the past four years while Spain’s seemed unbeatable, some of our best players had retired while van Gaal seemed to rely mainly on young talent from the own competition, largely untested internationally. And then Spain got a soft penalty and of course scored and I thought it was done and dusted.
And then came van Persie. A great pass from Daley Blind, van Persie accelerating just in time and then that great, great header. It came at the right time, just before halftime and it fired Orange on to greatness in the second half. Robben once again showed his greatness; he always looks super awkward and ungainly, his arms flailing around, but boy oh boy was that first goal a beauty and then that second one, perhaps even better. Van Persie as well had a great second goal, while Stefan de Vrij managed to smuggle one in as well.
It’s been a great night.