The hand of Berezovski
Ireland secured a place in the Euro 2012 qualifying play-offs, thanks in no small part to a very dodgy handball call by the referee.
October 12th, 2011
The last time that Ireland were involved in a football match that featured a dodgy handball call by the referee, Irish supporters launched a march on the embassy of the opponent nation, boycotted the produce of the opponent nation and vilified the opposition players, whilst senior Irish politicians called for the game to be replayed and for Ireland to be reinstated to the competition as a wildcard entry. On that basis, we can expect the Irish parliament to push strongly for Armenia to be allowed to play in Poland and Ukraine this summer and for Eastern European lager to become the tipple of choice in Temple Bar as a show of support for their hard-done by opponents.
Nevertheless, despite Roman Berezovski being sent-off for having a ball kicked at his chest and being replaced by a goalkeeper who, let’s face it, isn’t very good, Armenia did try to spoil the party in Dublin but fell just short, going down to a 2-1 reverse.
The upshot of it is that Ireland are now odds-on to reach Euro 2012 and will be seeded for the draw in Krakow tomorrow, meaning that they can’t be drawn against Croatia, Portugal or Serbia. Instead, they’ll be hopeful of picking up Estonia or Montenegro in the draw, rather than a seemingly trickier tie against the Czech Republic or Turkey.
Meanwhile, with twelve of the 16 teams now confirmed on flights to Poland and Ukraine, Spain have shortened from 11/4 to 5/2 with some bookies (although 11/4 is still widely available) whilst Germany, who finished their qualifying campaign with a perfect 10 out of 10 in qualifying, are second favourites at a best price of 4/1 with Bet365, although others have cut them overnight to 7/2.
Holland are the 13/2 (Bet365) third favourites and England are already being overhyped by being installed as fourth favourites, albeit at a lengthy 9/1, ahead of France, Italy and the yet-to-qualify Portugal.