Euro 2012′s group stages are over. Pretty quickly, one might say, compared to longer tournaments and probably the last time this will happen after UEFA decided to have 24 teams from Euro 2016 onwards.
It has been a competitive tournament so far, with most groups not decided till the last moment and some come-from-behind victories and moments worth remembering. Maybe some may say that Euro 2012′s group stages were too competitive and needed more goals, but the way we see it, every goal was worth cherishing in this high-octane tournament.
Here are the some of the best moments.
Poland’s penalty save against Greece: After Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity to Greece, it was Przemyslaw Tyton to come on and show what he’s got in his locker. The PSV Eindhoven keeper’s first touch would either be picking up the ball from the net or saving a penalty. Luckily for the co-hosts, Giorgos Karagounis’ penalty was not the strongest and their keeper guessed the right way to save and give them a precious point.
Denmark paling the Oranje: With Netherlands playing their first match against supposedly the weakest team in the group of death, the World Cup finalists were expected to beat them and ease the pressure a bit for the later games. Instead, Michael Krohn-Dehli scored for the Danes and Netherlands went on a mission to break the record of most shots taken without scoring.
Andriy Shevchenko vs Sweden: Sweden had taken the lead against Ukraine, but they seemed to forget that Shevchenko had left Chelsea— which means he could still score. The golden oldie smashed a couple of brilliant headers to stun Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s side 2-1 from behind and maybe make the Swedish captain think that he needed a haircut to be as clinical as Sheva.
Now England hurt Sweden: England had never won against Sweden in a competitive match and it looked like they would keep that record going before Danny Welbeck realised he had a bit of Thierry Henry in him to back-heel an 85th minute winner. But the real difference was Theo Walcott (who incidentally wears Henry’s number at Arsenal). The speedy winger came on and scored from 20 yards out before teeing up Welbeck after a run which reminded Sweden’s defenders of the Flash. It must have really hurt the Swedes to lose it so late, especially after they had taken the lead from behind.
Ukraine’s disallowed goal: Marko Devic’s shot deflected Joe Hart’s palms and looped towards the goal before the mighty John Terry showed his acrobatic and defensive skills to hack it off the line in style. Rio Ferdinand will be looking at it carefully, but what matters is that the goal was never given in spite of the ball crossing the line. Somehow England do something in every tournament to press video technology claims to the footballing world. Now we know why FIFA hate them.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the return of the volley: Free-kicks may not be the thing of Euro 2012, but volleys surely are. After bad boy Mario Balotelli did it for Italy against Ireland in their Group C match, Ibra wanted to prove he was badder. He tall body swiveled in the air, his foot connected with the ball and Hugo Lloris was left speechless for a few moments before realising what had just happened. A quality goal and lets give it to him. Mario has some way to go before people forget Mr. ‘I am Zlatan.’