Welcome! After our heroics in the quarter finals where we managed to slip a last minute screamer past a hapless Uruguay. (This is England – Last Eight – Last Date?) We were drawn against current UEFA European Champions Portugal. The mere thought of being made to play against Cristiano Ronaldo would bring a tear of sweat down the brow of most Football Manager, managers. Well I’m no different. When the draw came out my immediate thought was, how the hell am I going to stop this guy! Ronny was on seven goals so far in the tournament. Two goals behind the top goalscorer Andrea Belotti. Ronny was also on form and baying for blood (more goals), he had scored past Italy in their quarter final date.
It was yet another wet and breezy evening in Moscow (I am guessing SI have written a weather code for Russia that doesn’t include the word dry), or wise known as lovely weather if you come from Stoke.
We analysed the Portugal side before selecting the most suitably starting eleven. The most suitable starting eleven may surprise you as it wasn’t our strongest eleven on paper.
Due to fitness I recalled/swapped the two Wingbacks so Shaw and TAA were back in to rest Rose and Walker. Vardy came in for the knackard Kane and most notably the back three were Dier, Lascelles, and Stones as Libero, all drafted in for their pace to keep up with the likes of Andre Silva, C Ronaldo and Guedes (the latter did not start the match).
The game started at a break neck pace with the Portuguese kicking off. Their short passing was pin point and difficult to breakdown. The boys pressed and eventually recovered the ball to counter a quick break in the 9th minute. Reg got beyond the defence after a lofting ball over the top, but he got chopped down 20 yards away from goal. The crowd were calling for the referee to show his authority onto the game but instead he only gave the offending Carrico a yellow card. TAA the hit the resulting freekick skywards above the Portugal goal.
One minute later after we had attacked the Portuguese down the left with Rashford wasting possession. Pepe cleared the ball wide right to Andre Silva. Who ran the past Luke Shaw like he wasn’t there! He crossed the ball into the box to, who else? Cristiano Bloody Ronaldo! Ronny leaps like a gazelle and heads the ball past a static Pickford. 1-0 to Portugal.
At the 15 minute mark we gather the ball on the left and Luke Shaw does the sensible thing and passes the ball inside to Winks who spreads the ball to his right to Lingard. Who sends the ball right to the advancing Arnold. TAA then runs with the ball to the right by-line to deliver a wonderful cross into the box. Reg meets the ball and heads the ball in to the goal past Rui Patricio. 1-1 We were back in the game.
The second half kicks off in our hands. We pass the ball around keeping the ball away from the patient Portuguese. Winks, Lingard and Alli all combine well in midfield looking to pass and move in the hope to create space for the poacher Vardy.
At the 49 minute mark Rashford picks up the ball on the left and passes to Winks in the centre. Who switches the ball right to Alli. Alli spreads the ball further right to Terence. And TAA floats the ball into the box. Rashford heads the ball back to Reg. Reg smashes a shot past Patricio once again. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! 2-1 England.
We press and attack on a number of occasions with Reg hitting a beauty of a shot to be denied by the post.
On the 84th minute Reg is sent on a run due to a through ball from Winks. The ball bobbles just as Reg scuffs the ball to Patricio. Who in turn hoofs the ball forward to Ronaldo on the halfway line. He passes left to Bernardo who absorbs the pressure from our attempts to intercept the ball he then finds Moutinho in the centre of the pitch, who plays a cute through ball to Pizzi. Pizzi has his hands all over Luke Shaw but the ref deems the act to have happened the other way. Portugal are given a penalty!
Cristiano Ronaldo steps up. He starts giving Pickford the eye. Jordan does know whether Ronny is going to go to his left or take his top off. Ronny steps back then advances and strikes the ball with venom. Pickford gets a finger to it, the ball flashes past Pickford and clatters the crossbar. Rebounding back to Pickford who kicks the ball to a clam TAA who passes back to Pickford who then finds his range with a big hoof away from our goal.
The 88th minute sees Rashford shoot at goal for the ball to strike Pepe square on the ass. The rebound reflects to Wilshere who then passes the ball back to Stones who starts another attack. The ball is sent to the right for Sterling, he dribbles past the left back and whips a cross in to the box. Vardy meets the ball with his head, the ball this time hits the crossbar.
The last few minutes were frantic. Both teams sending long balls into each others halves. The game comes to an end. We Won!!!!! We are going to the World Cup Final!!!!!!!!