by Striker

Well, the present state of the parties in the Euro Finals for the “Boys in Green” is, one down, and two to go!

The hope that we could get something out of the first game was taken out of our hands by a very workmanlike team from Croatia, which, all through the match had the upper hand, only ever so slightly, but on the overall just about deserved their victory.

Unluckily, two of the goals against Ireland came as a result of some rare mishandling on the part of the brilliant Shay Given, who seemed to find that both attempts on goal were seemingly just out of his reach, and he could not get his hands properly on them.

On top of this the second Croatian goal will always leave a bad taste, for, if you can picture the situation, the ball was out on the right side, with the Croatian winger getting ready to deliver it in.

To combat this, the Irish defence automatically moved out in unison, leaving one of the attackers in a hovering position around about the six-yard box.

When the ball eventually came across, that Croatian player was in an off-side position, and, in my opinion, should have been flagged immediately, and play should have been stopped.

That seems to me to be the general law of the game, but, it didn’t happen, for the referee allowed the play to go on, until an unfortunate Irish deflection on to the attacker allowed him to confront Given on a one to one situation, which he took with aplomb for the killer second goal.

The two bones of contention are, why didn’t the linesman raise the flag immediately the man looked off-side, and why did the referee allow the game to go on with that lone player in behind the defence.

These things will remain a puzzle for me.

Excuses of course are no good to anyone, for the situation is now of a very serious nature, in that if we lose our next game to Spain we will be well and truly out of contention, with our last game against Italy then only of academic interest.

Looking back on Sunday evenings game, the real and shining stars of the occasion were the Irish supporters, who brought a great surge of sound all around the stadium, with singing and chanting of a very high standard.

Was it possible that there was a little bit of home town favourism tendency in operation?

It is possible that the home teams of Croatia and the Ukraine will get the benefit of the many fifty-fifty situations that occur during every football game?

Well, your guess is as good as mine, but future happenings should prove interesting as the finals progress.

Our next game is against Spain on Thursday, in a contest that we really cannot lose if we are to continue, and a tougher task would be harder to imagine.

Spain were outstanding against Italy, and it will take a mighty effort from our lads if we are to contain them, let alone win the game.

I think that Trappatoni just has to take a chance here and have an almighty go at getting the very best possible result.

He should give more of the youngsters in the squad a run, for you can be certain that the team will have to cover a lot of ground to keep the brilliant Spaniards at bay.

We always live in hope of course, so, lets hope for a rub of the green for the lads, for surely they deserve more than what they were already handed out.