Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dynamic duo do it again

Another break for international fixtures, and it was the star performers in our last two Premiership games who both shone for their respective countries.

England turned in a mostly awful performance against Austria at Old Trafford, the game won by a Frank Lampard penalty awarded after Michael Owen had been pulled back in the area. Owen should have won his side another penalty later in the half when a rash challenge sent him tumbling, but referee Luis Medina Cantalejo clearly should have been to Specsavers. Worse was to come when he sent off captain David Beckham for two innocuous challenges that hardly merited a free-kick let alone yellow cards. Austria struck the bar and gave our defence some nervy moments, but we could and should have won at a canter. The result, coupled with Holland's victory over the Czech Republic, handed us a place in next summer's World Cup Finals - as things stand, though, we haven't got a hope in hell of coming close to winning it.

Meanwhile, Shay Given was the familiar hero for the Republic of Ireland as they triumphed over Cyprus in Nicosia. Mackem Stephen Elliott scored the only goal of the game early on, but it needed a tremendous performance from Given, including a superb penalty save, to preserve the lead and secure the victory. He's currently in incredible form (even by his usual high standards). If the Sunday Mirror is to be believed, then we're set to offer him a new long-term contract with the aim of keeping him on Tyneside for the rest of his career. I'd love to think he'll commit, but he deserves to win something and I'm not sure he'll feel he can do it with us.


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