Spain: Casillas; Puyol, Hierro, Iván
Helguera, Juanfran; Luis Enrique, Baraja, Valerón, De Pedro (Mendieta
65'); Morientes (Albelda 72'), Raúl (Luque 80'). 4-4-2.
Ireland: Given; Finnan, Staunton (Cunningham 50'), Breen, Harte (Connolly 82'); Gary Kelly (Quinn 55'), Holland, Kinsella, Kilblane; Duff, Robbie Keane. 4-4-2.
1-0. 08. Morientes. Angled header down past Given from Puyol's cross.
1-1. 90. Keane (penalty). After Hierro penalised for holding Quinn's shirt.
Phew, that was close. We are still shaking, and Goran has just gone to change his underpants after one of the most nail biting finishes we have ever had in Spain. A penalty shoot out against Ireland! Still, we only have ourselves to blame. We should have been back at the bar in our hotel an hour ago if our players had not pushed the self-destruct button. And it started off so well!
Camacho puts out his first choice line up after resting most of them in the last match, and brings in Iván Helguera for Nadal at the back as he thinks that Duff may be a bit of a handful for the old man, and Morientes is up front as Tristán is still injured. And within eight minutes we are in front, Puyol taking a quick throw and getting the ball back to whip over a cross on to the head of Morientes. Lucky it didn't go to his feet as it would have probably hit the stands, but no, right on the old bonce and we are one goal up already.
No time for celebrating just yet, but then Luis Enrique bundles the ball in to the net after Morientes heads down and it looks like two. But no, the Swedish referee Mr. Frisky says it was offside and no goal. Not to worry we think, there is another on the way, but Ireland are making the offside trap work and even Raúl gets caught as the linesman flags us down no less than eight times in the first half. OK, most were valid, but one or two were not and we feel a bit hard done by.
Don't get complacent though boys, Ireland have shown a thing or two already, and Robbie Keane lifts one just over the bar as a warning. We are letting Ireland back in this game, and Hierro has to clear off the line from Kilblane as Casillas goes walk about. Staunton goes off, did we hear somewhere that he is a hundred years old or was that caps they were talking about, and maybe there will be some gaps at the back.
But disaster strikes, Duff gets round Juanfran again and the full back brings him down. Mr. Frisky has no doubts and it's a penalty, and Ian Harte to take it. He never misses! But this time Casillas does a funny sort of bunny hop and beats out the shot, and Kilblane puts the follow up wide. Camacho is looking worried, and brings on Mendieta for a disappointing De Pedro to try and add some weight to the left of midfield.
With the clock ticking down Spain make a second change, and it's Valencia's defensive midfielder Albelda for striker Morientes. Camacho must be worried! And then Raúl gets a knock and has to come off as well, and only Luque is left on the bench of the forwards so he has to come on. Something is wrong with the clock, it doesn't seem to be moving, and I'm sure I saw the minute hand go backwards. Casillas makes another brave save from Keane and the two are sprawling on the ground. The three substitutes are already on, so who will go in goal if he is injured? But it's all right, he is back on his feet.
But what's this, Mr. Frisky has given another penalty? Surely not. But he has seen Fernando Hierro trying to swap shirts with substitute Niall Quinn with the ball still in play, and the Irish striker looks like he doesn't want to give it to him. Why didn't Hierro wait until the end and ask him nicely, it was only a minute away? So Casillas stands up again, but this time it's Robbie Keane taking the kick, and he rolls it wide of the keeper.
So it's extra time and the golden goal, and we don't have a forward other than young Luque who looks petrified. This was just supposed to be a quiet run out. A bit like signing up for the army cause it's better than being on the dole and a week later war is declared and you're dancing through the land mines in Kuwait. And now we're down to ten men, Albelda has gone off with an injury. He should never have come on, he is waiting for an operation on a groin strain and hurt himself again in the last match (or in the girlie bar afterwards). Luis Enrique is finished, he too is carrying an injury, and he is pushed up front with Luque playing on the right.
Ireland are looking good and Keane goes close, but in the second half of extra time we get a grip and play out the time. It's all down to penalties. Keane scores but so does Hierro, making up for the penalty incident. Then Holland hits the bar and it's out. Goran has a strange look on his face as Baraja sticks his penalty wide of Given. And then Casillas again, stands up to Connolly and pushes it out! But Juanfran misses, and then Casillas saves again, this time from Kilblane. Magnificent, Casillas. This is it, but Valerón puts it wide, just brushing the post.
Finnan scores his kick, and it's up to Mendieta. Goran, are you all right? He rushes off, and in fact half the crowd can't look as Barcelona's new signing spots up the ball. It's not the best of penalties, right down the middle, but Given has moved out of the way and it's a goal! The luck of the Irish has deserted them tonight, and we are still in it. If I can just find Goran in all this pandemonium we'll be off for another night of celebration. Four wins in a row for the first time ever for Spain in a World Cup finals. This is getting to be a bit of a habit.