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All events in this story, and some player names are fictional and based on my imagination. Hurt, if any, caused to a player whose name I’ve used in this post is unintentional and bears no question upon their individual talent.
Good evening viewers, welcome to the live telecast of the big finale, a cup which has seen shocking results all through the tournament! After surviving through the tough phases of the tournament, these two teams have made it to the final here in Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata! For Fly Sports, I’m your commentator, Richard Baskin Robbins, and no I’m not an ice cream!
The fans in India have been most welcoming of course after the World Cup was shifted here on short notice and a record 111111 people have thronged this stadium to watch Argentina take on England. The big talking point during the course of this tournament has been the world record for the noisiest instrument of course, with the vuvuzuela being ousted by the Indian soccer shehnai. The humidity in this packed stadium, home of the East Bengal football club, will make this a heated encounter in all respects. The Argentinean coach and football legend Diego Maradona has put out an attacking lineup with out of form and messed up striker Lionel Messi captaining the team. Custodian Ricardo Romero who has let in a record 11 goals in the world cup so far continues to guard the weakened South American goal. England, who’ve been patchy themselves, opt to give lanky aging striker Peter Crouch the start, leaving hothead striker Wayne Rooney to warm the bench. The fans of course are disappointed after this decision; they were obviously expecting a showdown between Rooney and the Argentina coach Diego who was shown the red card during the quarterfinals for trying to kick the fourth official when his back was turned. Argentina will start favorites though, having won all their games before with their midfield quartet scoring all the goals.
Referee and former Italian player Andrea Pirlo blows his whistle… its England who start us off, in their home kits of all white… Argentina in their changed kit of dark blue go immediately on the defense as Wright-Philips puts in a cross from the right wing. It’s Crouch with the header… the ball flies off his head and hits the corner flag! What a strike… the England coach is jumping up and down… Crouch walks away holding his head as keeper Romero thanks his lucky stars that the England striker had such a huge head! Romero with the goal kick… the ball flies up the pitch and past the England goalkeeper Nick Knack who misses it completely in the lights… a wonder goal from the Argentine keeper who has pulled out the corner flag to celebrate… Messi joins him… and he’s down… Romero turns with the flag in his hand only to clobber him in the noggin! The English fans behind the goal have gone ballistic… what a shot!! The fans are actually calling for a red card for Romero… I’ve never seen anything like this! Messi has one hard head, he’s just back up and being assisted to his feet by Romero. The referee is livid… asking Romero for the flag! England seem to be still in shock as they kick off again, trailing by a goal to nil.
The game now into the 25th minute, the ball with Theo Walcott on the left wing!! He dribbles past Miguel Angel, crosses the ball to Wright-Phillips on the right, who chests it down, and crosses back to Walcott. Gerrard waits in the middle, Frank Lampard at the edge of the penalty area… Walcott sends the cross again… I can’t believe this; he’s picked out Wright-Phillips again. Are they playing soccer or tennis? The crowd’s displeasure is voiced clearly as boos and jeers echo through the Kolkata sky. Wright Phillips finds Lampard, the shot on goal by the Chelsea captain… hits the bar!! England denied by an inch as Romero gratefully hangs on to the rebound. Romero punts it forward, the ball flies toward Knack again. Oh dear, he’s slipped… Messi charging toward the ball..!! Knack gets to it in time… the goalie diving at the feet of the Argentine skipper. FIFA will be criticized for this no doubt, Jabulani II living up to the controversy created by its predecessor! Knack throws it short to Terry. England with short passes now as Terry finds right back Sean St.Ledger. After a stunning start, the game has slowed down a bit now. Wright-Phillips on the ball, dribbles past one, past the second defender and shoots… its IN!! Romero was off his line as the ball hits the post, rebounds to the other before trickling over the line! Maradona is furious… he’s claiming the ball took a deflection off Crouch who was in an offside position, but its clear as day that the English striker made no contact with the ball. Referee Pirlo waves away all protests as its England 1 Argentina 1 on the stroke of 33 minutes!
Argentina on the attack with the first half winding down, it’s Carlos Tevez on the right, guarded by Gareth Barry. The cross is low, but straight to the English keeper Knack! He throws the ball out, intercepted by Messi who shoots for goal… Knack is beaten! IT’S A GOAL!! No wait… it won’t count! Argentina are protesting but referee Pirlo heads toward his assistant referees… the goal is not given, Pirlo blew his whistle for half time just moments before the ball touched Lionel’s feet. It’s half time with the scores level at one goal a piece… Ricardo Romero’s goal for Argentina cancelled by a solo effort from English winger Wright-Phillips! As the fuming Argentineans head back to the dressing room, we leave you with the highlights of the first half. Don’t go away, the conclusion of this finale is up next; live from the Salt Lake stadium here on Fly Sports!
Welcome back to Kolkata, as we’re all set for the second half to begin. The sounds of the ISS fill the stadium as Argentina get us underway. One of these teams needs to break the deadlock early into this second half and put the pressure right back on the other. England have made a substitution at half time, Agbonlahor in for Peter Crouch, lending some much needed pace in the attack; Argentina choosing not to use any of the substitutes so early. They’re on the ball now with Diego Milito, he finds Sergio Aguero on the right side of midfield. Sergio sidesteps the English defender Francis who promptly brings down the Argentine forward! Pirlo reaches into his pocket, it is gonna be a card for the left back. It’s green? The players confused as the referee is in shock as well! He’s sorted it out now… and yes, it’s a straight red for Francis. 54 minutes in and England have been reduced to ten men… referee Pirlo hands him that green card as he heads off for an early shower! Milito hovers over the ball as Knack gets his wall organized. The penalty area is crowded now as central defenders Poza and Ramon come forward. Pirlo blows the whistle and it’s crossed in by the midfielder. The cross takes a wicked deflection off St.Ledger in the English wall, it loops over Knack! Hits the crossbar… but Tevez is there! IT’S A GOAL… a simple tap in for the forward. A comedy of errors in the English defence as not one but three defenders Terry, Dawson and Lampard were covering the Argentine captain Messi leaving Tevez with a tap in. England 1 Argentina 2!
We’re now an hour into the game, England trailing by 2 goals to one and a man down. Argentina looking to increase their lead now as it is Tevez on the attack. He passes to Messi… dribbles past Terry and shoots. He’s missed by a long way as the ball flies onto the track around this pitch. The assistant referee is indicating something, Pirlo races over to his side now… the source of the confusion is still not known. Oh yes, this final living up to all its expectations now as we see the ball on hitting the track has deflated. One does feel thankful in such situations that there are other replacement balls available on hand! Knack with the goal kick up the field, to Agbonlahor, he passes to Walcott. It’s Lampard now… the pass inside finds Agbonlahor!! Straight at Romero who parries it away for the moment… the custodian gets to the ball as Wright-Phillips charges in.!! FOUL!! Wright-Phillips tackles Romero hard and it’s another red card.. England down to nine men now! 66 mins have gone and the game seems to be slipping away from the European giants.
England coach Martin O’Neill in a desperate move now brings on temperamental striker Wayne Rooney. The board is up, and yes, it will be for striker Jermaine Defoe who has hardly had any action till now. Argentine keeper Romero seems to be blowing kisses to someone in the crowd now; wonder if someone threw a love letter at him from the crowd! We’re just 15 minutes away from the end now as Argentina look to seal the game now. The ball is in their possession with left back Peter Pastore. He tries to find Messi; Messi slips and the ball is out for a throw in. Diego Maradona isn’t satisfied apparently and is screaming at his captain. St.Ledger about to take the throw, wait! A spectator has evaded the security team and is now near the technical area! The security team after him, but he slips past them again and yes, he’s brought down Maradona! The Argentine legend is in pain now, and the team physio is checking on him. It looks bad, as the stretcher comes on… Argentina’s coach has been taken away from the stadium now after being attacked by a spectator and the noisiest instrument, the ISS blown into his ear from close range!! A shame really, he was in such a nice mood!
St.Ledger now with the throw! Argentina have used this break to make a double substitution, their forward Bolatti replaced by Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez replaced by Diego Rodriguez. It’s Walcott now on the right wing. He crosses it into the area, it is met by ROONEY! Romero saves! The Argentine custodian with a magnificent save as he pushes it on to the bar where it bounces dangerously before going out! Corner to England now, Terry and St.Ledger both in the box! Walcott with the corner, Rooney on the volley! HITS THE BAR, back to him, he smashes it into the crossbar now! The ball finally cleared for another corner by defender Clement Rodriguez. Rooney in a fit now as he’s mouthing expletives at the goalpost! Romero tries to get him to move on with the game. Wayne’s just had a go at Romero’s head! The custodian ducks the blow though, and Rooney explaining that there was a fly on Ricardo’s nose! No dice from Pirlo who promptly books him for the attempted blow! Lampard with the corner, Gerrard heads it down, bounces over the sliding Romero… St.LEDGER! ENGLAND EQUALISE! It is two goals each as Sean St.Ledger puts the ball into the net! 7 minutes left to play and the final is evenly poised once again, though England has 2 players short! The match has turned on its heels!
Pirlo is holding a red card aloft! Who’s it for? The Argentine captain has been sent off… Messi was protesting too much about St.Ledger being in an offside position when the corner came, and threw the ball close to Pirlo’s face. The referee having no second thoughts as he sends off Lionel!
Argentina back on the attack… Higuain finds Rodriguez on the left, back to Higuain.. He goes to the other wing now, to Angel Di Maria. Argentina who looked like they’d hold on has folded dramatically! Di Maria with the cross, header by Aguero!! SAVED BY KNACK! The English shotstopper holds on to the ball as the header has no real power. He punts it down the field as the fourth official signals four minutes of extra time. He finds Theo Walcott on the left wing, but the ball is cleared for a throw by right back Clement Rodriguez. Walcott takes the throw quickly to find Frank Lampard, he passes to GERRARD! The shot saved by Romero as the ball deflected past the post for a corner! St. Ledger to take this second corner as Terry and Dawson come to the box. He takes it short to Agbonlahor…the cross met by ROONEY! Romero denies England again as the time winds down. The ball sent back to St.Ledger for another corner… No one in the English half as even Knack is in the penalty area. St.Ledger puts it in! The header by Rooney, on to the post… cleared by Pastore, but only as far as Knack who shoots! ITS IN!! The ball finds the top corner of the net, as Poza’s attempted clearance fails! England are in the lead, a minute of extra time still left to be played and the goal scored by the keeper Knack!
Argentina waste no time getting forward as they try to salvage this game one final time! Aguero down the right side, he crosses the ball in! Off the line by Knack! The ball curved dangerously toward goal but Knack punches it away as far as Milito! HE SHOOTS! It’s wide!
Pirlo blows for time and ENGLAND are the WORLD CHAMPIONS! The chants of the English fans who have travelled all the way here drown out the noise of the ISS as finally, after a torrid route to the final, the men in all white have overcome all odds to be the best in the world! A dream final for a lot of spectators that turned to be full of unexpected twists and turns, a fiasco none of us shall ever forget! There’ll be no silver medal presentation to the legend Maradona who’s been taken to the nearest hospital. We hope he’ll be able to hear us soon… But for now, we leave you with the scenes of celebration as the 3 Lions hold aloft the golden trophy that is the World Cup. For more analysis on this finale fiasco, catch my report on the Fly Sports’ sister magazine Swizzle Stick on Monday. On behalf of the entire Fly Sports commentary team, it is goodbye from me, Richard Baskin Robbins & no, I’m still not an icecream! Ciao folks!
Magazine image made by my Indiana Raiders teammate Garfixis! Many thanks Rumz!