By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
#IF WE KNEW THEN …
We had a fascinating couple of days of World Cup qualifiers. The road to Brazil is well and truly under way. Some teams took a confident first step on the journey, whilst others took a step in the direction of the travel agent to scope out possible destinations for a family holiday in 2014. The Paddy Power Blog has had a look at some of the bigger priced bets that clicked over the last couple of days..
Ireland to beat Kazakhstan (Betting In Running)
Ireland were generally mediocre in Astana, playing a brand of football that made Wimbledon’s ‘route one’ approach look like the silky skills of Barcelona. It was win Ireland scarcely deserved and one that the anti-Trapattoni brigade scarcely wanted.
Strangely though, there were those who kept the faith, possibly people who had missed the preceding 88 minutes of football. Despite showing all the attacking threat of a sleepy kitten, a number of Paddy Power customers backed Ireland moments before Robbie Keane was sent flying and he dusted himself down to score his 54th international goal. It got better seconds later as Kevin Doyle lashed home a volley to give Ireland a win they deserved about as much as Demba Ba deserves a driving licence.
One of the lucky punter was Joe Murtagh from Dublin but living in London. He explained the fuzzy, but ultimately successful logic behind his decision:
I liked the odds. That’s about it. I looked at the clock and there were six or seven minutes to go including injury time so I thought there was a chance of a comeback. Not a big chance, but a chance. We got the penalty straight away and from them I definitely thought we’d get another attempt at goal. Doyler popped up and had me jumping around the living room like a maniac. You don’t get too many 55/1 winners.
Frank Lampard to score first and England to win 5-0
It looks so easy now. Frank Lampard scores a lot of goals and England are way better than Moldova. There’s been cautious optimism about England since Roy Hodgson took charge, often with a little too much of the caution. There were worries about the pitch, Ashley Cole’s absence and getting dirty looks from angry looking Moldovans, but England controlled the match and thoroughly deserved the win. Lampard has one step in the old folks home according to some, but he showed plenty of energy, firstly thumping home a trademark penalty and then bursting into the box for a nicely taken header. It may not have been the most obvious First Goalscorer and Correct Score combination, but there were a few customers who had it and they’ll no doubt be delighted with Lampard and Moldova’s pourous defence.
Bosnia-Herzegovina to beat Liechtenstein 8-1
This was a strange bet, having both elements of the generally obvious and extremely specific about it. The obvious is that Liechtenstein are a bit crap. They have improved over the last couple of qualifying cycles to the point where they generally don’t get flogged in every game, but floggings are still relatively common. They’re ranked nearly 120 places below Bosnia-Herzegovina and the gulf in class was exposed as the Dragons ran riot in Vaduz. It was 4-0 by half time and by the time the final whistle was blown, both star strikers Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic had recorded hat-tricks. One Paddy Power customer saw it coming and more astoundingly, saw the one goal fight back from the hosts coming, landing a nice little win at massive odds.
Colombia to beat Uruguay 4-0 (South America World Cup Qualifying)
Uruguay are ranked fifth in the world. Granted, it’s got that ‘Tulisa is number one in FHM’s sexiest women of the world’ incredulity about it, but it’s a fact of life after a good World Cup 2010 and a Copa America victory last year. They were as high as second in June. The South American two time World Cup winners are undoubtedly a good team, but are they really worthy of that lofty ranking? Yes they are because this is the crazy world of inside Sepp Blatter’s head.
The rankings were made to look only slightly less foolish than Luis Suarez’s reason for using ‘that’ word to Patrice Evra by Colombia on Friday night as the hosts romped to a comfortable 4-0. Falcao underlined his status as the in-form striker in European football by opening the scoring about two minutes and three second half goals ensured Uruguay’s heaviest defeat since they lost to Brazil by the same scorelne in 2009. The punter who backed the 4-0 scoreline must have had one eye on the history books as Uruguay’s next heaviest defeat also came on a trip to Colombia when they lost 5-0 in 2004.
Portugal to beat Luxembourg 2-1
If Cristiano Ronaldo was sad heading to the Grand Duchy, he’ll have felt positively morose when Luxembourg took the lead thanks to a Daniel Da Mota goal after 13 minutes. Hopes of a huge shock didn’t last long however as Portugal got back level with the team ranked 106 in the world through one of captain Ronaldo’s more straightforward goals. They went into the tea and bollocking break all square, but nine minutes into the second half, Helder Postiga scored to give the fourth best team in the world a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
It was a far more uncomfortable evening for Portugal than most people had been expecting. The previous five meetings between the two sides had finished with an aggregate score of 21-0 in favour of Friday’s visitors. A couple of Paddy Power customers did forsee a tricky evening for the Portuguese superstars and got some nice odds on a 2-1 win. To highlight jsut how much of a dog’s dinner Portugal made of this, 3-0 and 4-0 wins for Portugal were the favourites at 9/2 and 5/1 respectively.