Spain 4 – Ireland 0, at least that was the score on the football field, but off the field of play it was a high scoring draw! What a great bunch the Irish supporters are, and like a couple of years ago when we were in Dublin, we made many more friends over the last few days. Gdansk and the seaside resort of Sopot where we are staying is full of Irish pubs and has lots of other bars and nightclubs, and this last week the place is buzzing. We learnt lots of new songs such as “Oh Danny Boy”, and we taught our friends some of the more cultural Spanish ones like “Y viva España” and “Campeones, campeones, oh-eh, oh-eh, oh-eh”!!! Goran met an Irish girl with a big green hat and a ginger beard (I hope it was false but I’m not sure…), and now he is speaking Gaelic, or that’s what I imagine it was as I couldn’t understand anything he was saying (that might also be the effect though of the whole day drinking pints of Guinness with Goldwasser chasers, a type of local schnapps which they say has gold flakes in it)!
We had to win this one after drawing with Italy, and the Marquis (as he was recently dubbed the king of Spain) decided that he would play with a proper number 9. We weren’t sure though when he decided that should be Fernando Torres, but just four minutes after kick-off El Niño spots the Irish defence lying down to take a breather, and he runs through to blast the ball in to the net! Don Vicente, did we ever doubt you! We have to score more though as Croatia drew with Italy (being half Croatian, Goran is of course delighted about that), and we could end up in a three way draw at the end. But Torres misses another chance, and although the Portuguese referee Pedro Proença tries to help by pushing Andrews out of the way to let us through (honestly he did!), we get to half time just one goal ahead.
Not to worry though, the silk merchant David Silva is there to weave a goal out of nothing at the start of the second half, and gradually the hard working Irish legs start to fail. Given makes a great save from Iniesta, but watch out, Casillas has to save from the 93 year old Robbie Keane (didn’t we see him play for Eire in the Euro 1988 when they beat England?). But not to worry, Torres is there again to run through and score his second, and Fàbregas comes on to replace him and score a fourth (lucky he doesn’t suffer from agoraphobia, as there was not an Irish defender within miles of him!).
Then the whistle goes, and we have our biggest win in our Euro history! We ask everyone around us what that means for the last match, but they all give us different answers, so we call our statistical nerd at “Soccer-Spain”. “It’s quite simple”, he says, “if Italy lose or draw against Ireland, Spain and Croatia are through (hurray shouts Goran, come on you Irish!). But if Italy win and Spain and Croatia draw 1-1, then it’s a three way tie between Spain, Croatia and Italy, and the two teams with the better goal average against Eire go through (Spain are better than Croatia, so they will definitely be one of them). If it’s 0-0, then the head-to-head-to-head clicks in between the three first, and Italy go through with Spain. And if it’s 2-2 or a high score draw, then Croatia and Spain go through, even if Italy win 8-0…”. Somehow the line gets cut as Goran falls asleep on the off button…
Didn’t understand a word, but what the heck, let’s just beat Croatia and be done with it! Goran of course doesn’t agree, and says we should try and draw say 5-5 so we can both carry on in the competition (the Italians are already starting to complain that there may be funny goings-on, but who are they to talk about match-fixing!). Anyhow trying to draw is dangerous, and we think both sides will try to win. Ireland are out however, and we are sad to see our Irish friends leave. But Goran’s Croatian fans will the next to arrive, so the fun continues! No rest for the wicked, it looks like we will have to have a long holiday after this to get over our holiday!