We have been here before, and it feels bad. England are on top in the first half, with Owen Hargreaves in particular playing well, but they are unable to score. In the second the team gradually falls apart. David Beckham limps off after just 6 minutes, and an hour in Wayne Rooney is sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho and then pushing Cristiano Ronaldo in the fallout.
Ronaldo is the villain of the day, having lobbied the referee for Rooney’s dismissal and, to add insult to injury, smiling and winking at the bench when his tactics pay off. Rooney, however, should know better by now.
Despite being a man down England are comfortable and never look like conceding, while they continue to put pressure on the Portugal goal. It comes to nothing, however, and after extra time the teams cannot be divided. The penalty shootout, dreaded by any English supporter, is upon us.
Reports that England have, for once, been practising penalties might boost our confidence a little, but the effect is negligible and for the players appears to have been worthless. Lampard and Gerrard have their efforts saved.
Jamie Carragher steps up for the fourth kick and plays it superbly, powering it into the corner of the net, but the referee elects not to allow it, apparently because the Portuguese keeper Ricardo wasn’t prepared. It is an odd decision which clearly puts Carragher at a disadvantage when he goes for the retake, extra seeds of doubt and pressure planted in his mind.
Ricardo saves at the second attempt and Carragher is understandably gutted. Ronaldo is next for Portugal and runs at the ball knowing that he can win the game. He scores and puts England out.
It doesn’t get any easier to deal with these defeats and once again we are left in silent despondency. Time to go to the pub.