Good for the big guns in Europe. Spain, Italy and Germany, sailed into the finals of the European Championship with two games still to go. Germany and Spain have collected maximum points, with Germany an impressive eight wins out of eight, the latest a 6-2 thrashing of Austria, and Spain, in a smaller group, six out of six. The Spanish side also racked up the goals, putting 6 past Lichstenstein. Holland have one foot in the finals after putting 11 past minnows San Marino, and will also be feeling on top of the world, after FIFA elevated them to top of the world rankings above Spain, Germany and England.
Wales travelled to Wembley on Tuesday to take on England and needed a good result to continue their rebuilding project. They largely contained England and were unlucky to find themselves 1-0 down. Then, with 15 minutes to go, Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw found himself with the ball in front of a gaping net and with a chance of securing a deserved point and some pride for the unfancied Welsh side. Instead he shinned it over the bar (watch highlights of the game here). It was a sitter, and he’ll be kicking himself, and Wales will be ruing a point dropped. A bad miss!
Talking of bad misses, this week’s ugly section features a fluffed penalty. Now penalty taking should be one of the easier facets of the beautiful game but pressure – or being too cocky – often makes the taker do some strange things. Take Egyptian striker Amir Sayoud from the Al Ahly club who literally fell over while trying to take his penalty kick. A newspaper here in the UK described his attempt as follows:
Shuffling up to the ball, he attempted a shimmy before flicking the ball expertly past the foxed keeper — at least that’s what he had in mind as he faked to kick the ball. Instead, the dozy dancer got his studs caught on the turf and he fell flat on his face, nudging the ball tamely towards goal.
The newspaper goes on to ask whether this was the worst ever penalty kick in footballing history! Perhaps not ugly – more like embarrassing!
let off the hook: allow to escape, don’t punish
big guns: big teams, strong teams, fancied teams
sail into: easily qualify for, progress easily (also, breeze into)
rack up: build up a large number, get a lot of, collect many
contain: keep quite, don’t allow an opponent to attack
gaping net: wide open goal, undefended goal
unfancied: most pundits believe an unfancied team will not win; thought not to have a chance of winning
shin it: to hit the ball with your shin (the front part of your lower leg, above your foot), an uncontrolled kick that comes off the leg
kick (yourself): to regret something, to blame yourself
rue: to regret something, be sorry about
a fluffed penalty: A missed penalty (a bad miss)
too cocky: Too arrogant
Shuffling up to the ball: Moving slowly towards the ball
a shimmy: A dummy, a feint (pretending to do one thing but does something else)
flicking the ball: Chipping or raising the ball
foxed keeper: The puzzled or confused goalkeeper
dozy dancer: Dozy means sleepy or not really concentrating while dancer here refers to the player
his studs: The part below the boots – they help the player to grip on the grass/surface
the turf : The pitch, the grass, the field
nudging the ball tamely: Barely touching the ball, the ball moved very slowly towards the net