IAN HERBERT: At last, some welcome needle and nastiness at Euro 2022! The feisty, edgy aspect of England’s win over Spain helped turn it into a spectacle you could not take your eyes off
- Spain searched for motivation for their game against England on Wednesday
- A player had hoped the national anthem was booed to give their side an edge
- The team felt England were complacent and that they expected to win with ease
- Jorge Vilda’s side adopted an aggressive approach, and England obliged
Strange to report, amid the relentless positivity of these Euros, that a member of the Spanish team privately admitted she hoped her country’s national anthem would be booed by the English crowd at Brighton on Wednesday night.
This, the player indicated, was all the motivation her team needed to put one over on England.
And when it didn’t transpire, she and her team-mate found an alternative sense of injustice — perceived or otherwise — to put an edge into their game.
England’s game with Spain on Wednesday was filled with aggression from minute one
There were hard tackles, time-wasting antics and bench melees at various points of the game
Spain felt an extremely confident England were drowning in complacency about the quarter-final being just as much of a breeze as their procession through the group stage.
The needle was manifest from the opening seconds, when Ellen White pressed and found the ball smashed straight at her.
It spilled over into open insurrection from the Spanish bench when England’s equaliser stood, despite Spain’s belief that Alessia Russo had elbowed their captain Irene Paredes in the neck.
In the resulting touchline melee, Misa Rodriguez became the tournament’s first unused substitute to be booked, by referee Stephanie Frappart.
There was time-wasting from both sides. Fouls with an element of cynicism.
Excellent. All of it.
Spain had believed that England were complacent and expecting to breeze through the tie
Sarina Wiegman’s side embraced Spain’s aggressive approach and upped their own game
Though Sarina Wiegman gave the Spanish bench a look that could kill, as they gave full vent to their collective indignation, football had found the edge which gives it its intensity.
It has been too often missing at this tournament.
We’ve mercifully been spared the interminable diving and rolling around which has become an integral part of the men’s game. Women’s football seems to view that with the contempt it deserves.
Dissent also seems to have its limits. But you saw in the eyes of Spain’s players how desperately they wanted to land one on the hosts and how aggrieved they looked when they departed.
England went onto win 2-1 after extra time to progress to the semi-finals and put Spain out
Spain will be looking to avenge this when they next face England, or if Chelsea go to Barcelona in the Champions League some time soon. Which sounds like another seriously good piece of sporting theatre.
Football does not have to be the seas of niceness which the stadium presenters, with their Keepy Uppie cams and endless enthusiasm, would have it be. It’s not curmudgeonly to say that Mexican waves in the fifth minute are unwelcome.
The feisty, edgy aspect of Wednesday’s quarter-final at the Amex Stadium helped turn it into a spectacle you could not take your eyes off. We could only give thanks for that.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk