Monday, October 11, 2010

11 October 2006 - That's Just The Way The Ball Bounces

On 11 October 2006, Croatia defeated England 2-0 in a Euro 2008 qualifier due in part to a freakish English own goal.

Played before a crowd of 38,000 at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, it was the third match of the campaign for both sides, with neither yet conceding a goal. Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson was in goal for England, following his strong performance at the 2006 World Cup in which he kept clean sheets in 4 of the 5 matches England played.

The two sides battled to a scoreless stalemate in the first half, with Robinson making a trio of key stops to deny Eduardo, Niko Kranjčar, and Mladen Petric. But Eduardo finally beat Robinson with a 61st-minute header to put Croatia up 1-0. Disaster for England followed shortly afterward.

In the 69th minute, midfielder Gary Neville sent a pass back to Robinson. As the ball rolled tamely toward him, the keeper stepped up to launch it up the pitch. But just as he swung his leg, the ball hit a divot and bounced over Robinson's foot. As Robinson tried to turn, the ball continued rolling, right into the goal.

Croatia went on to win the match 2-0, on their way toward topping the qualifying group. England finished third, one point behind second-place Russia and one spot too low to qualify. Robinson went into international exile, going for over two years until his next England call-up, and retired from the national team in 2010.

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