Ten lions and one silly boy

FRANKFURT: England’s exit from the World Cup at the hands of Portugal dominates the front pages of all the English papers that are available here in Germany.

The Sunday Telegraph is among papers to lament the injustice of being knocked out of a big tournament on penalties for the fifth time in 16 years. “It all ends in tears” says The Mail on Sunday headline beside a photo of injured England captain David Beckham, crying.

The Daily Star Sunday shows shell-shocked England fans after the defeat. The blame game it seems has also begun. The Observer praises the impressive resistance shown by 10-man England. The Sunday Express is among papers to criticise Wayne Rooney for being sent off. “Ten lions and one silly boy,” it says.

It was Deja vu for England. After 1990, 1996 (Euro), 1998 and 2004 (Euro) losing on penalties is nothing new to England fans, and losing on penalties to Portugal will feel oddly familiar.

Sven-Goran Eriksson leaves his post having failed at the quarter-final stage on three occasions, and all at the hands of Big Phil Scolari. Even in the other quarter final, Brazil being taken apart by France brought back memories of 1998. Brazil’s problem seemed to be summed up when Ronaldinho produced a beauty of a stepover to beat a full back, only for Cafu to take the ball off his toe. Too many stars, not enough team.

Meanwhile, the scuffle that took place between Argentina and Germany following Friday’s match was not the only thing to give a black eye to an otherwise enjoyable quarter-final match. Breaking the rules set out by FIFA and general etiquette, the stadium announcer at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium apparently urged on the German supporters to back their team. As a result of this transgression he has been sacked.

One person who did not get a chance to hear the announcer cheerlead for Germany was Argentina’s biggest cheerleader, Diego Maradona. The Argentina legend refused to enter the stadium after one of his entourage was denied entrance to the match.

With the semi-final line up decided, it will be one without a South American team in a long long time.