Beer And Sausage
I had a bad feeling about last night's Euro 2004 quarter-final between England and Portugal when, as I was driving into St. George's around 7pm, I passed a man yelling from his balcony whilst waving what looked like a Brazilian flag.
As the match kicked off at 3.45pm Bermuda time, I had set the PVR to record it so I could watch when I got home. England's previous games hadn't seemed to attract much interest here, so avoiding learning the result before I could watch the match hadn't proved too troublesome. But the Island's large Portuguese community ensured this game was going to be different. Terrified lest someone at work blurt out the score I spent the afternoon huddled in my office with the door shut and drove home with the radio off. And then I passed the shouter.
When England knocked their first goal in after only 3 minutes, hope surged. That wasn't a Portuguese flag, I told myself; and anyway, maybe he was simplying displaying patriotic pride following his team's valiant defeat. But memories of the game against France, where England went 1-0 up after five minutes only to lose 2-1, and Croatia's defeat in the previous match despite getting an early goal, cautioned against undue optimism.
Portugal looked like the stronger side throughout the match, an impression reinforced by the statistics for possession which periodically flashed up on the screen. Frankly, I was amazed England lasted until the 83rd minute before buckling and conceding their first goal. As they continued to come under heavy pressure in extra time, in an indication of just how bad things had become I found myself hoping England could hang on long enough to take the game to penalties. There certainly seemed no prospect of them scoring again otherwise.
When Portugal got their second it seemed like it was all over. Yet somehow they managed to snatch back an equaliser and as the whistle blew and the game moved into penalties it seemed like we had been given a second chance. Then Beckham cocked up the first shot and once again, despair reigned. I could just hear Posh, up the stands, crying "Die-veed!".
Then suddenly the game was England's to win again as Portugal missed one of their penalties, the game moved into sudden death, and England carefully placed theirs home. Suddenly David James was presented with two opportunities to put England into the semis. All he had to do was save the next Portuguese shot. I found myself composing the title for this post: "Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat".
But it was not to be. Yet again, English fans the world over had to witness their national side crashing out of a major championship on penalties. It seemed the man with his flag was celebrating a Portuguese victory after all.
Yet with a little more ingenuity England could have emerged victorious. As any Bermudian could have told them, all it would have taken to distract the Portuguese defence and ensure the success of every English attack was a bottle of Becks and some chorizo tossed in their direction. Then the result could have been very different indeed.