As the quarter-final stage of the world’s second most important football tournament is reached, surprise results on the pitch continue to dominate the headlines.
England were on the wrong end of the biggest upset since their defeat by the USA during the 1950 World Cup when losing 2-1 to debutants Iceland. Manager Roy Hodgson immediately resigned, paying the price for his much ridiculed and apparently random team selection.
Defending champions Spain are also on their way home after having been outplayed and outthought by 2-0 winners Italy while much-fancied Croatia were felled 1-0 by Portugal’s only shot on target over 120 minutes deep into extra time.
Hosts France survived a spirited Irish showing to recover from a half-time deficit and go on to win 2-1, but Poland needed penalties to edge out Switzerland 5-4 after the two sides remained tied at one a piece at the end of regular time.
Wales are the only team from the British Isles still in the competition following a Northern Ireland own goal during their otherwise very mundane tie.
That left Germany and Belgium who both lived up to pre-tournament expectations with facile three and four-nil successes over Slovakia and Hungary respectively.
Thursday: Portugal v Poland
Friday: Belgium v Wales
Saturday: Germany v Italy
Sunday: France v Iceland
All matches kick off at 8pm.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Iceland’s Ragnar Sigurdsson