Monday, June 16, 2008

Robbing Petr to pay Hedo

Of all the sport events this weekend, the Lakers' staving off elimination, the Tiger comeback, it was a soccer game that I found the most compelling. Now, to be fair, I love soccer to begin with, and a sprained knee keeping me working from home last week was a blessing in disguise, because the Euro 2008 championship have been amazing to watch.

How incredible was it that Turkey won? With 28 minutes to go in the game, the Czech Republic had just cleeted a ball into the back of the Turkish net, taking advantage of a 10 player defense, and not letting a substitute come in for an injured player. It gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead, and that late in the second half, it's as good as winning the game. The irony of that goal is the fact that Turkey was once again dominating its opponent in the second half after giving up an early goal. It wasn't until the 75th minute that Turkey netted its first goal of the game to even give it a lifeline of success. Surely this would have to go to penalty kicks at worse, because one of the top netminders in the world Petr Cech was patrolling the goal, already being instrumental in a handful of saves against the aggressive Turks.

It wasn't to be. Just like the first goal, which slid in near post from nearly 30 yards out, the second goal was purely Cech's fault. An overplay of a slick ball on a cross gave Nihat Kahveci an open net to tie the game in the 87th minute. This is the second time in as many shots that Petr had a mental lapse. The first goal should have never gone in, a goal tender of Cech's caliber (and height) shouldn't have any issues corralling a ball shot with little vigor to the near post. But even more inexcusable was the sloppy play on the cross, which merely slipped out of his hands. The third goal however, was hardly his fault, his defense gave a defender a free run not 2 minutes later, and he buried it in the far corner, there was only so much Petr could do then.

It's misleading to believe that Turkey didn't deserve the win, as they are the only team in the tournament to win a game they didn't score first in (twice). The were the obvious aggressor in the second half, keeping the Czech (and Cech) on their heels, continually creating scoring opportunities that went just a little wide of the goal. The difference in the goals in the 75', 87', and 89' minute is that their hard work came to fruition. At the same time, the two tying goals were more a product of Petr Choke than of magnificent offensive plays. Either way, it provided for the most compelling sports even of an already loaded weekend

[SI] Lakers send series back to Boston
[SI] Tiger Woods forces playoff
[ESPN] Turkey rallies for win