Sunday, June 24
By Nick Ames in Kiev
Over to you, Lukas and Per. Arsenal interest in Euro 2012 now rests on the German duo’s shoulders after England lost in a penalty shoot-out here in Kiev last night in what was an all-too-familiar tale.
As predicted, it was a long, long night in the Olympic Stadium. Particularly in extra time, each minute seemed to last an eternity as the Italians, with the majestic Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings, passed around a tiring England.
To their credit, Roy Hodgson’s side - which had included Theo Walcott since the hour mark - stuck to their defensive task gamely after making a fairly bright start to the game. Theo came on for James Milner but found it hard going as England were starved of possession.
One dart into the box during extra time brought back memories of his assist for Danny Welbeck in the match against Sweden, but on this occasion his cross drifted beyond the far post. The Gunners’ forward was willing to chat in the mixed zone after the game, though, as the clock ticked well past 1am here.
He was positive about the experiences gained over the last few weeks, but admitted he is looking forward to a break from football before regrouping for Arsenal’s pre-season in Asia and Nigeria. You can read his thoughts early this afternoon on Arsenal.com.
There was no role for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but this tournament will have been an invaluable learning experience for him too - and should stand him in good stead for a real crack at regular Arsenal first-team action come August.
Germany’s semi-final against Italy on Thursday night, in Warsaw, should be a treat, with this new-look Italian side looking capable of causing Joachim Low’s side problems. The smart money might be on a recall for Lukas Podolski in that one, while Per Mertesacker will note that centre back Holger Badstuber is only a yellow card away from missing the final.
I have about an hour to decide my semi-final movements. Germany v Italy is very tempting indeed, but another return trip to Warsaw isn’t with time and resources both scarce over the next week.
I have a ticket, purchased speculatively a year ago, for Portugal v Spain in Donetsk and might end up watching that in a non-professional capacity. It would certainly be interesting to see whether Cristiano Ronaldo, who has really come to the party this summer, can breach a Spanish defence that has only been troubled sporadically thus far.
The sun’s out yet again in Kiev, and the city is far quieter than at this time yesterday. It feels like a perfect time to go and spend some time on one of the beaches located on the huge island that lies in the middle of the river, but there’s more work to do before that. Check back later for those Theo quotes, and tomorrow for my latest Arsenal-related Euro 2012 endeavours.
EURO 2012 BLOG ARCHIVE:
- A long night in Kiev?
- Low keeps expectations high
- Off with their beards
- Czeching in to Warsaw
- And then there were six
- D-day for England and France
- Per proved right on Podolski
- Czechs keep their composure
- Electric Walcott makes his mark
- Kiev gets ready for England
- Dejected Dutch on the brink
- A decisive day for the Dutch
- Beaming Ox makes his mark
- Sun, streams and slagheaps
- Diligent Danes reap reward
- The Dutch and the Danes
- Running the rule over Robin
- From Gatwick to Kharkiv