- Last Updated: 12:01 PM, June 21, 2012
- Posted: 2:35 AM, June 21, 2012
Best game: It wasn’t the most elevated display of skill and tactics — that would have to be Spain and Italy’s 1-1 opener — but England’s mid-stage 3-2 victory over Sweden was the most riveting. Sweden went up 2-1 early in the second half after trailing 1-0 at intermission.
Substitute Theo Walcott equalized with a missile from outside the area and Danny Welbeck (above) won it — putting England in position to advance and eliminating the Swedes — with a spinning backheel flick in the 78th minute.
Best goal: For pure world-class skill, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s leaping ninja volley for Sweden vs. France or Mario Balotelli’s over-the-shoulder strike for Italy vs. Ireland, but for theater we submit Jakub Blaszczykowski’s 18-yard rope into the upper 90 that gave host Poland a 1-1 draw against neighbor Russia on a day that started with fan clashes in the streets of Warsaw.
Worst & best exit: The most disappointing showing undoubtedly belongs to the Dutch, who entered the tournament as the third favorite and departed with three losses and rumors of intrasquad rifts. Global all-stars Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were no-shows. The most noble bow-out came courtesy of Ireland and its fans, who stood for the final seven minutes of a 4-0 elimination outclassing by Spain and sang the supporter ballad “The Fields of Athenry” on repeat.
Best player: After appearing off-kilter through two matches, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reminded viewers why he is the world’s 1A with a virtuoso performance in a quarters-berth-clinching 2-1 win over the Netherlands, scoring two goals, hitting two posts and creating chances all day from the wing.
Worst decision: European governing body UEFA fined Croatia $100,000 for racial abuse of Balotelli, a black Italian forward, by its fans. Then it fined Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner $126,000 for displaying a sponsor logo on the elastic of his underwear following a goal. The opposite of having priorities straight is having them Bendt.Follow @NYPostsports