Ricardo breaks English hearts
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
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England bowed out of the European Championship in heartbreaking circumstances, with hosts Portugal winning 6-5 on penalties after an extraordinary quarter final in Lisbon.
Goalkeeper Ricardo scored the crucial sudden-death penalty, after saving from Darius Vassell to demolish English dreams.
Helder Postiga cancelled out a third minute Michael Owen goal to take the game into extra time, but not before Sol Campbell had a goal controversially struck off in the 90th minute.
Rui Costa gave Portugal the lead in the second half of extra time, only for England to seize a life-line when Frank Lampard scored his third goal of the tournament.
But it was not to be, with penalties once more ending England's hopes of winning a major tournament.
After taking the lead just three minutes in through a predatory Owen goal, the loss of talisman Wayne Rooney to injury drained England of their confidence, and despite some dogged defending Portugal finally levelled with just eight minutes left on the clock.
Lampard - for the umpteenth time in the match - had given the ball away cheaply, and when the ball was swung back in, Chelsea team-mate John Terry was left in no man's land
Ironically the England fans had cheered the arrival of the Helder Postiga as a replacement for a disgruntled Luis Figo, but it was the Tottenham man who headed home a fine cross from Simao.
And yet England had a goal ruled out in the 90th minute, with Campbell heading against the bar, and then following up - but referee Urs Meier scandalously giving a free-kick to Portugal.
The hosts thought they had won it in extra time, when Rui Costa flashed home a fine drive from the edge of the box to give Portugal the lead.
However, sensationally, England got a leveller six minutes before the end when Terry rose to head down a David Beckham corner, and Lampard thundered home on the turn.
But the dream began to die when Beckham's standing foot dislodged the turf around the penalty spot, and his effort sailed over the bar.
Although Rui Costa also suffered from the condition of the pitch and shot over, it went to sudden death and substitute Vassell saw Ricardo save his effort.
The goalkeeper then stood up to take his own penalty, and lashed superbly home to make himself a hero to the host nation.
A rollercoaster first half had seen England take the lead but lose their talisman.
Even with the attention firmly focused on Rooney since Monday, Liverpool's Owen has come in for criticism, but the diminutive forward repaid the faith of those who suggested his class would shine through by scoring within three minutes of the kick-off.
The 24-year-old was at his predatory best when Costinha misjudged the flight of the ball, turned on a sixpence and majestically flicked the ball past Ricardo before wheeling away to celebrate his timely goal.
It was a perfect start for England, but they were immediately on the back foot and both Campbell and Ashley Cole had to be alert to block quick-fire shots from the lively Cristiano Ronaldo after Figo had engineered a low cross across the box.
Maniche and Nuno Gomes had half chances, and a wonderfully worked short corner saw Gary Neville plant the ball on Campbell's head, only for the big defender to head over.
But Portugal were handed a boost without levelling the scores when Rooney was forced off with an ankle injury. The teenager tried manfully to continue but it was not to be.
Chasing lost causes kept England from collapsing - but Portugal started to force the opposition defence deeper and deeper.
It was Owen who nearly settled nerves by bagging his second; latching onto a Vassell flick and volleying a fine shot towards the top right corner, only for Ricardo to produce an acrobatic stop.
With England's defence looking anything but well-organised, Deco was being given far too much space, but fired a shot well wide, whilst the Beckham - Gary Neville combination down the right carved out a half-chance for Owen, whose stooping header was deflected over the top.
Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville both picked up booking for mis-timed challenges - the latter handing Figo a perfect chance on the edge of the box to show how dangerous he can be with his left foot. Not for the first time Figo fired well over the top.
The second half saw dogged, determined defending, but the arrival of Postiga for Figo late in the second half turned the game back in the hosts' favour.
A momentary loss of concentration from Terry allowed Postiga the space to head home, and give Portugal the goal they had previously been battling ineffectually for.
Portugal inevitably had the momentum as they went into extra-time, but England looked mindful of their history from the penalty spot and went all out to win the game in orthodox circumstances.
However, despite some good pressure from England it was the hosts that took the lead, when Rui Costa dodged artfully around a Phil Neville challenge on the edge of the box and hit a screamer in off of the underside of the bar, with David James left grasping at thin air.
To their credit the Three Lions still had a last roar - with a corner handing Lampard the chance to atone for a disappointing performance by smashing home.
But in truth it only made the eventual exit all the crueller for the assembled sea of red and white shirted fans.
England fans will feel that referee Meier is more responsible for their exit than an injury to Rooney, or penalty misses from Beckham and Vassell.
Few will argue that they do not have a very good point.