16 Yellows & 4 Reds – Was It Really That Bad?
After a dull England v Ecuador game the Holland v Portugal promised so much. But referee Valentin Ivanov had other ideas.After Graham Poll managed to book Croatian defender Josip Simunic three times before actually sending him off against Australia midweek.
But tonight saw 16 yellow cards and 4 yellows! Apparently a new record in the World Cup. I’m one for breaking records.
Portugal won the game 1-0 with a smart goal from Maniche.
Good work from the Brazilian-born playmaker Deco on the right wing saw him pick out Pauleta on the edge of the box. The PSG striker flicked the ball into the oncoming Maniche, who managed to move away from a Dutch defender and shoot into the corner in one movement.
A really good goal!
But by this time Valentin Ivanov had really stamped his authority on the game with Maniche, Van Bommel and Costinha already in the book.
And then just before half time Costinha lost the plot and got a second yellow for deliberate handball. Even before this it was clear with this referee that it would not end 11 versus 11 – although I though if anyone was going to be sent off it would be Van Bommel who was as dirty as ever.
Petit came on for striker Pauleta at half time and got booked within 30 seconds of the restart. No surprise there then.
But Scolari showed his tactical expertise and played Maniche and Petit just ahead of the defense with the skillful Deco behind Figo and Simao. The system was designed to stifle the Dutch and it worked as Holland only had one or two decent half chances to equalise.
On 49 minutes The Netherlands came as close as they would all night as Philip Cocu smashed the underside of the bar from only 5 yards out. How costly that miss would prove at the end of the night.
Then another mÃªlÃ©e of yellow card ensued until the 73rd minute, when the referee lost control not for the first time as Portugal played the ball out so that a player could receive treatment. But the Dutch refused to return the ball to Portugal and Deco hacked down Heitinga in retaliation. Deco got sent off only 5 minutes later for apparently wasting time. This didn’t matter as Ivanov added about 7 minutes injury time!
Portugal managed to hold on to their slender lead and progressed into the Quarter Finals against England.
As the Holland v Portugal match turned into one of the farces of the tournament, England fans everywhere were smiling as influential Portugese players Deco and Costinha would be suspended and a further 5 are now on yellow cards. The skillful Cristiano Ronaldo also picked up a nasty unjury and could be out of next weeks showdown.
It might have been a crazy game but England will not have a better chance of getting into the Semi-Finals as the Portugese ended tonights game with only 9 men and played most of the 90 minutes a man less than Holland. They’re not exactly in top shape going into England’s match!
Although they showed glimpses of brilliance, Holland just didn’t perform and Portugal deserved to go through.
Arsenal’s representative Robin van Persie struggled in a Dutch team that couldn’t get their game going and found it hard to break down a determined Portugese side.
However he almost scored another wonder goal on 37 minutes when he tore apart Nuno Valente on the right hand side and clipped the ball towards the far post. Unluckily for Robin the ball swerved away from goal and out for a goal kick.
There were several other interesting sub-plots in the game, including how Arjen Robben escaped punishment for several blatant dives, why didn’t Van Nistelrooy even make an appearance and why didn’t Figo get sent off for clearly head-butting Van Bommel?
Red cards: Gio Van Bronckhorst, Khalid Boulahrouz, Deco & Costinha.
Yellow cards: Ricardo, Valente, Maniche, Figo, Petit, Mathijsen, Sneijder & Van Bommel.