Beckham's botched penalty costs England

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

LISBON, Portugal David Beckham sent his shot into the crowd, and Portugal went on to beat England 6-5 in sudden-death penalty kicks following a 2-2 tie Thursday night, advancing the hosts to the semifinals of the European Championship.

Beckham, who failed to convert a penalty kick in England's opening 2-1 loss to France, missed badly on the first penalty kick that followed 30 minutes of overtime, appearing to slip and sending the ball well over the crossbar and into the seats.

Beckham, who was not available for comment after the game, also sent a penalty kick over the crossbar in a qualifier against Turkey last October.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson complained to the Union of European Football Associations that the area around the penalty spot didn't have enough grass.

''He slipped with his foot once again, unfortunately. Life has to go on,'' Eriksson said.

Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo stopped Darius Vassell's low shot on the seventh penalty kick, then converted the winner himself, beating England goalkeeper David James.

''It's not new for me to take penalties, but tonight I really wanted to do it,'' Ricardo said. ''I owed it to all the Portuguese fans.''

England has lost four penalty shootouts, including defeats to Germany in the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship and to Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. The English beat Spain on penalties in the 1996 Euro quarterfinals.

''It's a big disappointment and it always seems to happen to us,'' said Michael Owen, who scored England's first goal in regulation. ''Tournaments come along every two years so you can't expect to win everything. But going out on penalties again is a bitter blow although they put theirs away really well.''

England's Wayne Rooney, tied for tournament lead with four goals, came out of the game in the 27th minute after breaking his right foot.

''He got injured rather badly,'' Eriksson said. ''He will be out for I don't know how many weeks, maybe months.''

Portugal next plays the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal between Sweden and the Netherlands. In other quarterfinals, defending champion France meets Greece on Friday and the Czech Republic faces Denmark on Sunday.

Thousands of people, waving flags, cheering and honking car horns, filled streets after the game. Thousands of fans blocked Lisbon's main avenue, the Avenida de Liberdade, as people who watched the game in bars and cafes spilled into the streets.

''This win, after everything that happened during this game, was truly spectacular,'' Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. ''I have to go and get my heart checked it was so thrilling.''

Owen put England ahead after only three minutes of the tournament's first quarterfinal. Helder Postiga, who replaced star Luis Figo, tied the score in the 83rd minute.

England thought it had scored a winner in the final minute of the second half when Owen headed the ball off the crossbar from a Beckham free kick and Sol Campbell forced the rebound over the goal line. But Swiss referee Urs Meier disallowed the goal for a foul on Ricardo.

Rui Costa gave Portugal a 2-1 lead with a goal from 18 yards out in the 110th minute, but Frank Lampard retied it five minutes later.

Then the game went to penalty kicks. After Beckham missed, Owen and Lampard made England's next two shots, while Deco and Sabrosa Simao converted for Portugal. Rui Costa then missed high and to the left, leaving penalty kicks tied 2-2.

John Terry and Owen Hargreaves made their next kicks for England, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Nuno Maniche converted for Portugal, sending the teams to sudden death 4-all.

Ashley Cole put England ahead 5-4 and Postiga retied it before Ricardo stopped Vassell's low shot to the right. Ricardo then scored the winner with a shot to the left corner.

''During the penalties God was with us,'' Cristiano Ronaldo said. ''We have to celebrate this moment. It was wonderful. The way the people supported us from inside and outside the stadium. We believed in ourselves throughout the game. Over the 90 minutes we were better than the English.''

In other news, Germany coach Rudi Voeller resigned, one day after his team was eliminated. Spain coach Inaki Saez is expected to resign Friday.

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