Unlucky England – Part One

For all his gurning and tongue-poking, Joey Hart couldn’t second-guess the skill of Signore Pirlo & Co. as Italy condemned England to Euro 2012 shoot-out defeat. That’s 6/7 losses on the 12-yard lottery.

The curse continues. 

Both Roy Hodgson and Captain Stevie had talked of ‘lifting the hoodoo’ with a brace of firsts that saw England top Group D; a first competitive win against Sweden was followed by victory over Ukraine – the first time England had beat a host nation in tournament football.

The omens were good.

However, yet again, lady luck evaded English hearts when put on the spot, as Messrs. Young & Cole became the latest incumbents to the penalty hall of shame.

Much plotting will go on from behind Hodgson’s desk at St George’s Park between now and Brazil 2014 but, no matter what happens on the training pitch and how well-prepared the squad may be, sometime, sooner or later, England surely deserve a big slice of luck.

Yes, it was fortuitous when Ukraine were denied a ‘ghost goal’ in Donetsk but Artem Milevskiy was actually offside before passing onto Marko Devic, so the fact that that effort didn’t stand was really a case of instant karma and justice served.

It’s about time something went England ’s way. Over the years there have been a number of unfair calls and freakish episodes that would suggest the footballing gods have dealt us a harsh hand.

Quite literally, in the case of Maradonna’s ‘Hand of God’, which helped the diminutive Argentinian outrageously out-jump Peter Shilton at Mexico ’86. El Diego went on to score probably the greatest goal of all-time but England were hard done by and questions of what may have been still linger.

At Italia ’90, a Paul Gascoigne-inspired team looked good against West Germany until Andreas Brehme’s free-kick took a wicked deflection off Paul Parker and the ball spooned over the luckless Shilton. Lineker equalised and Gazza cried before Pearce and Waddle became the first shoot-out fall guys but the unfortunate Parker rarely again played at international level.

In 1993, England needed a point in Holland to have any real chance of qualifying for USA ‘94. On the hour mark, David Platt latched onto Andy Sinton’s punt and was clean-through before Ronald Koeman tugged him back on the edge of the box. Astonishingly, the Dutch captain was only given a yellow card, despite denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. In a cruel twist of fate, minutes later Koeman exquisitely chipped a free-kick past the sprawling David Seaman and the man who should never have been on the pitch led Holland to an eventual 2-0 win and onto America , English hopes dashed.

Euro ’96 was England ’s time to shine and a fully-stretched Gazza was a stud’s-length away from connecting to Shearer’s cross for what would have been the golden goal to take the Three Lions into the Wembley final. As it happened, Southgate missed in sudden-death and Germany marched on.

Remember World Cup 2002 when Ronaldinho’s lobbed 40-yard free-kick left Seaman all-at-sea? Whether fluke or skill, it was certainly lucky and England crashed-out once again.

If it’s not too depressing, tune-in tomorrow for Part 2 of this run-down of English misfortune. Hopefully, the misery won’t continue in Moldova tomorrow night.

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