Red Semi Finalists
Euro 2016 keeps on going and now, there’s Liverpool players in the Semi Finals of it, with a real chance to make it all the way to the Final.
Wales V Belgium
Joe Allen and Danny Ward’s Wales faced Simon Mignolet, Christian Benteke and Divock Origi’s Belgium.
Belgium started well and were the first team to take a lead. It took them just 13 minutes to score and what a beauty this goal was. Eden Hazard passed it off to his teammate Radja Nainggolan, who decided he wanted a shot from range. The accuracy and power of this 30 yard strike saw it blast past Hennessey and into the back of Wales’ net from way outside of the penalty area. Assist for Hazard and goal for Nainggolan. Wales 0-1 Belgium.
Mario Balotelli likes to try long range shots for Liverpool, I’ve seen him test the opposition goalkeepers from outside of the box and even if he doesn’t end up scoring them, I’m quite certain his intentions for those shots were always to score a goal just like Nainggolan’s. A 30 yard spectacular effort, basically. They are hard to score but always impressive if the ball ends up in the net. Belgium can safely say that they have not failed to impress at Euro 2016.
So, Wales were faced with the challenge that if they didn’t score, they’d be knocked out of the tournament after already coming so far. Goals became the main priority for them now.
Around the half hour mark, Robson Kanu made his way to the far end of the pitch and although he couldn’t score with his shot, he forced a corner from Belgium. The corner would go into the penalty area and as Gareth Bale was seen making a run by the defence, the Belgian defenders clearly focused on moving towards Bale to start stopping him from scoring before the ball had even come to him but it was captain Ashley Williams who received the ball eventually. He was standing on the penalty spot and with the other defenders distracted by Bale for a short while, it was almost like Williams had a penalty to take, though play hadn’t been stopped by the referee since the corner was taken. Williams only had to beat the goalkeeper and did so to score Wales’ equalizer as the game became level again. Wales 1-1 Belgium
Wales would continue attacking for more goals but by half time, the scores were still level at the break. Both Belgian and Welsh fans could be happy enough with having scored already and either side could go on to win this now. The second half would decide the winner.
Ten minutes into the second half of play, Aaron Ramsey had received the ball. He made a long run down towards the Belgium goalkeeper, then passed it off to Robson Kanu, who. Now would come a wonderful bit of football inspired by Johan Cruyff himself (may he rest in peace). Robson Kanu did a Cruyff turn!
The Belgian defenders didn’t see that coming and by the time they looked at Robson Kanu again he’d already passed them and made his way towards goal for a shot. A shot which would power all the way past Courtois and into the back of the net, making it Wales 2-1 Belgium. Cue all the Welsh fans going crazy as their team had now taken a lead for the first time in the game.
So, it was Belgium who were forced to get a goal now, if they wanted to stay in the competition. However, only Wales would be scoring any more in this game.
In the 80th minute, goalscorer Robson Kanu was replaced by Sam Vokes.
Around the 85th minute, Chris Gunter was heading towards the corner flag with the ball. You’d think he was there just to waste time or perhaps force a corner from any defender who came towards him but instead of these options, he sent a cross into the Belgium penalty area where substitute Sam Vokes was waiting to head the ball into the far corner of the net past Courtois for the third Welsh goal.
Wales qualify to the Semi Finals and will next face Portugal, where Real Madrid teammates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will face each other for a change as their countries both go head to head for a chance to play in the Final.
The Belgium manager could have done something to stop this defeat, other than scoring more goals than their opposition. Keeping the lead that Nainggolan gave them would have been a way to do it.
Marc Wilmots, you really should have considered using Simon Mignolet as some point, even if it was just to replace Courtois at half time but starting him would have been preferable to ensure less goals scored against Belgium. Perhaps he wouldn’t have conceded three goals against Wales. All the Liverpool fans know that Mignolet’s record of clean sheets is one of the best in the English Premier League. Had he kept another clean sheet against Wales, you might still be in the competition. Instead, he sat on the substitute bench the entire time and had to endure watching his country be knocked out of Euro 2016, from the sidelines. How frustrating that must be for him. I really don’t like to see players forced to be inactive in this way, nothing more than a back up substitute among the 7 choices available (of which a maximum of only 3 can be used in any fixture). Emre Can has also had to endure the same kind of treatment from Germany manager Joachim Löw. Speaking of which…
Germany V Italy
World Champions Germany went up against Italy and only managed to qualify by winning on penalties eventually.
An unconvincing 1-1 draw by the 2014 World Cup winners which led to extra time and even a shoot out saw the Germans make their way to the next round of Euro 2016.
It was the second half before any goals were seen. Italy are a country with great defenders which can keep a clean sheet almost at will but they would concede first around the 65th minute.
Manuel Neuer would send a long ball up to Gomez, who could have tried his luck with a shot but instead pulled back the ball to Mesut Özil who was waiting in a dangerous position inside of the penalty area and then Arsenal player Özil would finish the opportunity he was given accurately to score from close range.
Less than quarter of an hour later, there was to be a second goal. This time, Italy had a bit of luck and help from the match official. Well, the referee awarded a penalty but it wasn’t just gifted to them. Jerome Boateng had leapt into the air to defend an attack from the Italians inside of the penalty area. As the German defender challenged Chiellini, the ball would striker Boateng’s arm. It was perhaps unintentional, thought the ball had been stopped from reaching a player in an offensive position directly by Boateng. Italy would have their penalty kick, which would be taken and scored by Bonucci in the 78th minute.
Not long to go now and both teams would not concede any further in the game, so extra time and penalties would follow.
Here’s a run down of the penalties that were taken. (NOTE: scores will now reflect goals scored in the shoot out ONLY, not inclusive of the two goals scored in regular time).
Italy substitute Insigne would have the honour of taking the very first penalty of the shoot out in the fixture. Insigne would steps up and sends Neuer the wrong way! Germany 0-1 Italy
Tony Kroos would be first for Germany and under the immense pressure, he coolly puts the ball past Gianluigi Buffon to equalise. Germany 1-1 Italy
Next, another substitute that had been brough on for Italy would take a penalty. This one didn’t go so well as the first. Zaza tried to fool Neuer with little steps in the run up to the ball, attempting to misdirect the German goalkeeper. As he reached the ball though, he didn’t kick it accurately enough and would send it flying over the crossbar. Perhaps don’t do all of those many little steps next time, Zaza. A single step up and shot will surely work better for you. Germany 1-1 Italy.
Germany have a chance to take a lead now. Thomas Muller steps up with a fine shot, but Buffon produces a fine dive and save to keep the scores level. Germany 1-1 Italy.
Next, Barzagli would take a penalty. He hit it right down the middle of the goal and since Neuer had already committed himself to diving in another direction, the ball would roll into the net. Germany 1-2 Italy.
Next, Mesut Özil stepped up to take a penalty. He’d already scored the only German goal in regular time but could he get another, from 12 yards? You’d surely think he had an easier job to score this time around but as he sent Buffon the wrong way, he placed his shot so far to the edge of the goal that it hit the post and did not go into the net. Germany 1-2 Italy.
Next up, Southampton striker Pelle would get his chance to provide Italy with a two goal lead. He was so confident when taking it that he even pointed to the spot he was going to put the ball, but upon striking the ball, it went far further wide than the spot he had pointed to. What a miss and Germany are next to take a penalty, maybe level the scores again. Germany 1-2 Italy.
Julian Draxler was next in line for a penalty. Buffon didn’t guess correctly for the direction of the shot and the ball would smash into the right hand side of the net to make it Germany 2-2 Italy. Pelle must really regret not scoring his penalty now as the Italians no longer have a lead. Can they make another lead, with their next penalty?
Bonucci had scored the only goal in regular time for the Italians. It had even been a penalty. Surely he can do it again? NO HE CAN’T! Manuel Neuer must have learned a lesson and remembered the exact way the first one was taken by Bonucci. Neuer dived and saved the shot in the exact place he’d expected it to be placed. Bonucci had been too predictable to score that one. Germany 2-2 Italy.
Germany and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger sends his effort blasting over the crossbar and into the crowd behind the goal from 12 yards. Not good enough from the team captain, I’m sure the manager and fans expect better than that from their leader. Plenty of misses and saves here today, it’s still level at Germany 2-2 Italy. With the scores level after five penalties taken by either side, the shoot out continues into “Sudden Death” where teams simply have to score if they want to continue taking penalties. If you miss or it’s saved, you lose the shoot out! Lots of pressure to score.
Giaccherini’s next up and makes no mistake, he scored and it’s now Germany 2-3 Italy. The Italians lead again for the first time since Barzagli made it 1-2.
Mats Hummels confidently and accurately places the ball in the right hand side of the net to level the scores. Germany 3-3 Italy.
The German fans are chanting Manuel Neuer’s name as Parolo steps up to take his penalty for Italy but he doesn’t seem distracted by the crowd and manages to score for his country. Another lead is taken. Germany 3-4 Italy.
Joshua Kimmich is next, he picks the bottom far corner of the net and Buffon can’t reach it to stop the ball from rolling into the net. Germany 4-4 Italy.
De Sciglio takes a penalty for Italy and has some luck. He’d hit his shot very powerfully and it struck the crossbar with force, but the underside of the goal rebounded the ball into the net. Almost a miss, but it went in and it counts, giving the Italians yet another lead. Germany 4-5 Italy.
Jerome Boateng had played a part in conceding the first goal for Italy in regular time, giving away a penalty. Now he has a chance to redeem himself. He takes that chance, scores his penalty and likely feels better now that he’s assisted country with a goal of his own. Germany 5-5 Italy.
Darmian steps up and fires the ball low to Neuer’s left. Neuer has enough time to react, diving over to the ball and stopping it from reaching the net. All Germany have to do is score now and Sudden Death rules will classify them as the winner and they will qualify.
Hector has to take the penalty next. His entire country’s fans are praying and willing him to put this in the net. Hector hits it hard and low, firing the ball under Gianluigi Buffon. It’s a goal! Germany 6-5 Italy. Germany will be playing in the Euro 2016 Semi Finals against France, the hosts have made it to the Semi’s too. World Champions V Tournament hosts.
Germany V France will take place on July 7th, just after Wales’ fixture with Portugal has taken place. We’ll see if either Joe Allen and Danny Ward’s country or Emre Can’s country will make it to the Euro 2016 Final. Hopefully there will be a Liverpool player in that Final. We’ll see.
Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s