The knockout stages of Euro 2012 is still on-going but following up from my previous article, here is the simulated horror of what happened in Poland and Ukraine courtesy of the new downloadable UEFA Euro 2012 video game on my Xbox 360.
Poland 1-2 Germany (after extra time)
Portugal 3-3 Russia (1-3 on penalties)
Spain 1-4 England
France 3-5 Italy (after extra time)
The first quarter final pitted the co-hosts Poland against the tournament favourites and neighbours Germany. The two shared history in that Germany had beaten them in the past two major tournament fixtures they had played in the 2008 Euros and 2006 World Cup. Lukas Podolski opened the scoring for a dominant Germany but all of their hard work was undone before the break as Ludovic Obraniak added his fourth of the tournament just ten minutes later. Obraniak’s equaliser would remain the last talking point until the start of extra time where Marco Reus netted what seemed would be the winner, the Poles hit the crossbar and had an effort hacked off the line by Mats Hummels. Poland went out of the tournament fighting and eventually lost out 2-1.
Portugal and the co-top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo set out in their quarter final against Russia and almost immediately took the lead over a decent Russian side. When Raul Meireles picked the ball up 25 yards, he only had one sight in mind – the goal, the thunderous effort was in no danger of being stopped as it burst the net to give Portugal the lead. Russia came painfully close later on through Kerzakhov as he hit the post but Yury Zhirkov’s rebound was the equaliser they didn’t deserve but Nani was on hand soon after to put Portugal back in the lead before the break. Portugal just couldn’t shake Russia off their backs and Igor Denisov was soon dancing through the Portuguese box and levelling the match up at 2-2 on 55 minutes but soon, thanks to Kerzakhov, Russia were in front for the first time in the match eight minutes later. Ronaldo soon pulled ahead in the goalscoring ranks, dinking a first time effort over the goalie with little over 10 minutes left on the clock as Portugal looked to take the game to Russia, or into extra time. The match would close out into a penalty shootout where Varela and Joao Moutinho blazed the ball straight into the goalkeeper before an impressive save thwarted Hugo Viana to take Russia into the semi-finals, 3-1 on penalties.
The third quarter final saw Spain take on an English side which had scraped through to the quarter finals. When Torres curled in the opener on 18 minutes it seemed as though Spain would take the match by the scruff of the neck and toy with England. However, long range goals from Steven Gerrard and James Milner saw England over turn the deficit by the half hour mark. Just when Spain looked to have got a grip of the match when Silva struck the post after the break, England hit Spain on the counter attack with Welbeck putting distance between the two sides with a well hit shot. England would secure their semi-final place against Germany with a Walcott goal late on to win 4-1.
The final quarter final between France and Italy was a repeat of the 2006 World Cup final and kicked off with a bang as Karim Benzema’s equaliser on 7 minutes cancelled out Mario Balotelli’s Italian opener. In a cagey quarter final tie it was Benzema’s second which proved the crucial goal only for a stoppage time equaliser from Mario Balotelli to steal the show and lunge the game into extra time. The equaliser was crucial as Thiago Motta and Christian Maggio netted twice in extra time to send the French packing at the quarter final stage despite Franck Ribery’s late consolation but the brief comeback was quashed with the third of Balotelli’s hat-trick.
Germany 2-0 England
Russia 1-0 Italy
The semi-finals saw the clash between old foes in Germany and England as well as the rise of two surprise packages in Russia and less so in Italy who had found a talisman in Mario Balotelli. Just like in South Africa, England were outdone by the swift double strike of a German, two years ago it was Muller, this time it was Mario Gomez who broke the deadlock with his second half double to seal a final with the 2-0 win. Russia took the surprise lead in the second semi through Kerzakhov’s fourth goal of the tournament shortly before the half-time mark which would be the winning goal in a dull semi-final, setting up a Germany/Russia final.
Germany 1-2 Russia
Kerzakhov picked up right from where he left off, netting a terrific volley on 7 minutes to bring Germany out of their shell in what could be their fourth European Championship victory. Russia were in dreamland and they drifted into a deeper sleep when Konstantin Zyryanov doubled Russia’s lead 20 minutes later when his effort cracked off the post and into the German net. Bastian Schweinsteiger revived German hopes in the 80th minute with sumptuous strike from distance. The revival hopes were only brief as Russia closed out the 2-1 win to win Euro 2012!
Top Goalscorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (6 goals)
First Goal: Georgios Samaras (GREECE v Poland)
Last Goal: Bastian Schweinsteiger (GERMANY v Russia)
Most Goals: Portugal, Russia (13 goals)
Least Goals: Sweden (2 goals)
Best Record: Russia & Germany (5 wins & 1 loss)
Goals Scored: 126
Goal Average: 4.06 per match
Penalties: 3 (0 scored, 3 missed)
Earliest Goal: 3 minutes (Mario Balotelli: ITALY v. France)
Latest Goal: 114 minutes (Mario Balotelli: ITALY v France)