By Nate Jacobson
It was a bittersweet night for French fans in Montpellier, France.
The good news was France is progressing to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012.
The bitter part of the story is France’s 2-0 loss to Sweden and falling to second place in Group D behind England. France now has a quarterfinal date with mighty Spain, while England earned a trip to Kiev to play Italy.
The fans all over the large town in southern France, including the ones at Fitzpatrick’s Irish Pub, became restless early as midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and forward Karim Benzema whiffed on chances and France could barley test the Sweden goalkeeper. At the same time Sweden was causing all kinds of trouble for a France back line that is the squad’s weakness.
Sweden broke through in the second half through a moment of magic by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The big striker’s scissors kick was the best goal of the Euro 2012 group stage. France pushed up, but Sweden made sure to finally hold on to a lead. Sweden added a late tally for insurance.
The only time the fans in Montpellier were able to cheer was when striker Oliver Grioud came in as a substitute. Giroud scored 21 goals for French Champions Montpellier and big clubs such as Arsenal have pursued interest in the forward. Other than that moment the French fans were vey disappointed with the loss. However, they are happy to make it to the last eight of the tournament especially after their embarrassing showing at the 2010 World Cup.
England 1, Ukraine 0
The big story of the night was England winning Group D and some of the fortune that The Three Lions took advantage of. England won the match 1-0.
Ukraine outplayed England in the first half and had the better chances. England responded well as a Steven Gerrard cross deflected three times before it found the head of Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United striker had the easiest of finishes with his new hairstyle.
The controversy of the game happened in the middle of the second half when John Terry cleared a Ukraine shot off the line. After replays and zooming in, it was clear that the ball fully crossed the line and Ukraine should’ve been given a goal. The linesman and the ref who stands right next to the goal weren’t convinced the whole ball was over the line and there was no goal as a result of the play.
I think that UEFA has done the right thing by adding two more refs to stand on the line by each net. However, the action occurs so fast that even humans make mistakes. Instant replay and video technology is an American thing and the top members of FIFA and UEFA have no interest in instituting technology of any kind. Having instant replay would slow down a match, but it is crucial that the close plays are called correctly in a major tournament.
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