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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
So painful, so cruel, so typical

England's Euro 2004 exit was splashed all over the major newspapers of a country crestfallen by the pain and anger of yet another controversial penalty defeat.

But the rest of Europe took a different tone, saying England had only themselves to blame after trying to grind down hosts Portugal with a negative and defensive performance.

Here's how the result was greeted around Europe.


The Sun (UK) You Swiss Banker
The Mirror (UK) Robbed
The Express Poison pens yet again
O Jogo (Portugal) A slap without a glove
Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy) A Portuguese Fable
La Marca (Spain) Ricardo and Scolari send England home
L'Equipe (France) Portugal by knock-out
The team's exit heralded an outpouring of national grief as the media leapt at the chance to wallow in the cruelty of a script all too familiar to a country that seemingly excels in heroic defeat.

"So painful, so cruel, and yet, so typical" was The Daily Mail's take on England's fourth penalty defeat in the last eight major tournaments.

And according to most of tabloids, it was the referee, not Portugal, who beat England.

"Idiot ref robs Becks' heroes", said The Sun's front page, laying the blame squarely at the door of Swiss referee Urs Meier, who ruled out a last-minute goal that consigned England to extra-time.

"What an Urs" accused the Star.

"Sod it" trumpeted the Mirror, in a reference to the uneven turf on the penalty spot which unsettled several England players, notably skipper David Beckham.

The Times took a more measured tone: "A goal that wasn't - England made to suffer in theatre of cruelty".

"Replays - unavailable in the stadium - appeared to show that the goal should have stood, but referees, like England football teams, can be prone to failures of nerve at crucial moments," wrote Simon Barnes.

Most of the papers splashed with pictures of Beckham in various degrees of agony after blasting England's first penalty shot high and wide following a slip.


The Portugese took a predictable view of a match they felt they deserved to win.

"A slap without a glove" was the headline in popular Portuguese sports daily O Jogo, in reference to goalkeeper Ricardo's crucial bare-handed penalty save from Darius Vassell.

"Against a team who defended their one goal with considerable luck for 80 minutes, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari decided to risk everything," it continued.

"Felipao (Big Phil) made three inspired substitutions: Helder Postiga and Rui Costa were both on target, while Simao was a constant menace down the left side after replacing the disappointing Costinha.

"The players showed guts and heart, and now they are ready for anything," the editorial added.


Italy's leading sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, called the match "A Portuguese Fable" and mocked Beckham for his bizarre penalty miss.

"The penalties began, England went first. Beckham put it into the crowd - yes, really," the article continued.

"After conceding the goal, the Portuguese players did the only thing they could: play as determinedly as they could to crush England.

"Eriksson's team sought to absorb the waves and limit the damage; the Portuguese pressing was suffocating and effective."


"Portugal by knock-out" proclaimed French newspaper L'Equipe, who were far from surprised by England's demise.

"Undoubtedly for England history tends to repeat itself.

"As they had done against France, Sven-Goran Eriksson's players gave it up in the dying seconds of an encounter in which they had engaged well, and the scenario was the same against Portugal."

The newspaper also insisted that England's negative performance had contributed to their own downfall.

"England paid dearly, in Lisbon, for their refusal to play after the opening goal was scored by Owen," it continued.

"With the advantage, England backed away and allowed Portugal to play."

There was no mention of the controversy surrounding Campbell's late disallowed 'goal'.


Spanish daily newspaper Marca also chose to ignore the incident in their report, which carried the headline "Ricardo and Scolari send England home".

"England, with a lead on the scoreboard, tried to hold down their rival, but ran out of time."

Referring to the penalty shoot-out disaster for England, Marca added: "The worst ghosts returned to the head of Beckham.

"As he did against Turkey, the English skipper sent the ball into the clouds.

"A sad finish for the eliminated team because both deserved to continue in this European Championship."

Links to more Euro 2004 stories



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