WORLD CUP FEVER - July 4

Quarter-finals

Holland

Argentina


Germany

Croatia


Sometimes a horse wins a horse race and you look at the horse and you can't work out if it's run a race. Wise words, Kev. Which leads straight on to today's business. Could Holland win the race, and more importantly could I retain consciousness for long enough to see them do it. On the balance of the facts available, yes and again just about, although facts are not played on grass. They live in the pages of the history books, which will say in a loud voice: yes, this was a cracker. Gary 'Arthur' Numan got sent off, deservedly I thought, although the despicable Simeone is alleged to have ran into the challenge. Very skilful if he did, and no less an expert than Maradona chuckled away on Argentinian TV that Numan was the second player Simeone had got sent off. What larks, eh?

Luckily, the numbers were evened up after Ortega 'headbutted' van der Sar, although contact seemed minimal and the stringy keeper collapsed in mock agony as is de rigeuer these days, you just can't put the heed on someone. It opened the gates of opportunity once more for the Orangemen and they marched straight down the Gavaghy Road without any need for rubber bullets and an intervention from the Prime Minister. I've drooled enough about Dennis on these pages already, but what a moment. Look up the word sublime' and add some lemon to it, turn the lemon into an orange by some arcane citrus alchemy, and pass me some more coffee and Nurofen. All credit to the lad Frank de Boer for a brilliant 60-metre pass, too. A big up to the Holland posse, they know the score, and the score's 2-1, they're on the case with the hardcore face, they're givin' it large, with a big shout going out to Frank and Ronald, to Clarence and Patrick, to Dennis and Marc, to Edgar and all the boyz. Respect is due. To Hiddink's crew. Ahem.

ooh me nose!
Croatia. Or as some patronising twerps call them, 'Lilliput'. They would have been good enough to beat an 11-man Germany, make no mistake. So the departure of Christian Wörns gave Berti Vogts an excuse, but it would have left a sour taste in the socks if his team had played in the semi-final. (Bierhoff could have gone as well, if the ref had seen his elbow in Soldo's face). Strong as always, but just not good enough. And how they were found out. Jarni scored way into time added on at the end of the first half, and Vlaovic struck a similar angled shot from the corner of the box in the second half. Davor Suker, whose drama queen behaviour (all that diving, gesticulating and praying) is getting on my nerves, scored a neat solo goal five minutes from time, just to rub it in. There'll be dancing in the streets of Zagreb tonight. Auf wiedersehen Jürgen, Jürgen und Lothar...

Results:

Holland (1) 2

Argentina (1) 1

Kluivert 12
Bergkamp 90

Lopez 18


Germany (0) 0

Croatia (1) 3

Jarni 45
Vlaovic 80
Suker 85


jarni celebrates

Shots off target:

Wimbledon finalist Nathalie Tauziat is French captain Didier Deschamps' cousin.

Italian goalie Gianluca Pagliuca, a colleague of Diego Simeone at Inter Milan, accused Simeone of playacting after being kicked by David Beckham. So, it is with great inevitability, that we award a Red Card to the Argentinian villain.

Hats off to Croatian manager Miroslav Blazevic who looks like Michael Palin, smokes furiously while watching his team, and wears a French gendarmerie cap ('kepi') as a lucky charm / tribute to the policeman who was beaten unconscious by German thugs. He's also said to consult astrological charts before a game, which is surely no worse than some of Glenn Hoddle's eccentricities.

Daniel Pasarella has resigned as Argentinian coach. He wouldn't have long-haired homosexuals with ear rings in his team, you know.

Your Unofficial Quote of the Day:
'Norway are not a football team.' Giuseppe Bergomi

Your Official Quote of the Day:
'I was in Moldova airport and I went into the duty-free shop - and there wasn't a duty-free shop.' Andy Gray


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