World Cup 2010 Day 22, A Brief Recap

Holland 2-1 Brazil
Felipe Melo (og 53′) Wesley Sneijder (68′) Robinho (10′)

This game was a chippy one with the likes of Michel Bastos, Felipe Melo and Mark van Bommel not far from getting themselves ejected. Brazil dominated early possession and at moments played a classic crisp passing game. Andre Ooijer starting for the injured Joris Mathijsen seemed to shoulder the blame – for not playing the offside trap – for the early Robinho goal but Felipe Melo was given too much time to find him from midfield. The duel that seemed the first to be trouble for Brazil was the Bastos vs Arjen Robben one so it was little surprise that Bastos was withdrawn early in the second half. But soon after the Holland goal came. Wesley Sneijder collected from Robben and crossed high into the area. Both Melo and goalie Julio Cesar rose for the ball and the ball just brushed the former’s head and made its way in to the goal. As Holland’s confidence grew they capitalized on a chance from a croner. The ball was flicked on by Dirk Kuyt and headed in by Sneijder. Minutes later Melo received the somewhat inevitable red card for a foul on Robben and a deflated Brazil exited South Africa. The Confederations Cup win, a year earlier in the same country, now a distant memory and as has been said before perhaps a curse.

Uruguay 1(4)-(2)1 Ghana
Diego Forlan (55′) Sulley Muntari (45′) Asamoah Gyan (pen miss 120′)

The first half was somewhat a tale of two halves with Uruguay getting the better chances early and then Ghana starting to grow in confidence. As half time was seconds away Sulley Muntari collected a ball won in midfield not far inside Uruguay territory and let a shot go. The replay showed that the ball swerved and fooled Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal. The second half still remained balanced with the teams exchanging chances. It fell to Diego Forlan to rescue his team with one of his excellently taken freekicks. So extra time beckoned with the African support in the stands growing and hoping. And so the game would have one of the most dramatic endings in World Cup history. With a penalty shootout seconds away Ghana pressed and forced a goal line clearance and then another. However the second was a handled ball by Luis Suarez. So with Suarez only barely having left the pitch Asamoah Gyan’s penalty struck the crossbar and produced an escape for not only Uruguay but the guilty player. Several of the shootout penalties were tame and Ghana suffered along with whole of Africa.

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World Cup 2010 Day 19, A Brief Recap

A distraught Yuichi Komano after the final whistle

Paraguay 0(5)-(3)0 Japan

This was one of the quieter matches of the World Cup with chances and moments of magic or skill sparse. Paraguay had the edge in possession in the first half but Daisuke Matsui probably had the best chance when he collected the ball and hit the crossbar. Eiji Kawashima and Justo Villar were rarely troubled in the respective goals and nothing of great note transpired, the match went into extra time with a few relatively lively moments but it ended perhaps rather predictably. Japan’s third penalty was by defender Yuichi Komano, he hit hard and at the crossbar. In the end Oscar Cardozo clinched it with his penalty to make it 5-3 leaving Komano the most distraught of the Japanese contingent.

Spain 1-0 Portugal
David Villa (63′)

The match featured some good but not overly impressive passing displays by the Spanish and some if not spectacular defending and forays by the Portuguese. Portugal threatened to open the scoring when they moved forward and Iker Casillas somehow pulled the ball behind him and into the net. The Portuguese’s main impetus was occasional runs through Fabio Coentrao down the left hand side but the Spain penalty box was not often in any big danger. Spain had the more possession and Andres Iniesta was often the offensive catalyst but mostly to no avail. When Spain threatened they were equaled by Eduardo in the Portugal goal. In the 63rd minute however, Xavi passed to Villa, who all night was cutting in from the left side, his first shot was well saved by Eduardo but he then received his own rebound and directed it into the net. Cristiano Ronaldo was not heard from or seen often and his World Cup ended perhaps more disappointingly than his country’s. And so a Spain vs Paraguay quarter final match up was set.

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World Cup 2010 Day 18, A Brief Recap

Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia
Arjen Robben (18′) Wesley Sneijder (84′) Robert Vittek (pen 90′)

Slovakia came into the match having only beaten a poor Italian team but otherwise not impressing at all. Holland were efficient and had done enough and may be a bit more. The flow of the game was predictable and Arjen Robben getting a first start of the World Cup was the danger man. So it didn’t take too long for Robben to cut in from the right of midfield and shoot inside the near post to beat Jan Mucha in the Slovak goal. Robin van Persie had done well to mix up the defenders by overlapping to the other side. The game didn’t feature too many minutes of flowing football with the Slovaks again not doing much. It took until the 66th minute for Robert Vittek and Slovakia to force a save from Maarten Stekelenburg. There were cracks appearing in Holland’s central defense but Vittek was unable to threaten further. Hard working Dirk Kuyt helped Wesley Sneijder to double the lead. As the game was about to end Vittek fell at the hands of Stekelenburg which resulted in a questionable penalty. As the ball went in to make it 2-1 time had expired and Holland moved on to the quarter finals.

Brazil 3-0 Chile
Juan (34′) Luis Fabiano (38′) Robinho (59′)

Perhaps the telling story of this match was the absence of Chileans Marco Estrada, Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce due to suspension. Brazil had the more effective start with Luis Fabiano, Gilberto Silva and Robinho threatening. In the 34th minute Brazil scored with Juan jumping high to meet the ball, soon after Fabiano scored again, this time from a well worked piece made by Robinho and Kaka. In the second half Brazil were more solidly settled into their counter attacking ways and a Ramires run opened the path for a third Brazil goal by Robinho. Chile threw all they could, bringing on Rodrigo Tello, Jorge Valdivia and Rodrigo Millar, and came close to troubling Julio Cesar. Chile and Marcelo Bielsa didn’t discredit themselves as they kept up their push. It was not to be however as Brazil set up a quarterfinal meeting with Holland.

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World Cup 2010 Day 17, A Brief Recap

Germany 4-1 England
Miroslav Klose (20′) Lukas Podolski (32′) Thomas Muller (67′, 70′) Matthew Upson (37′)

England were outplayed but also undone by an event that will be talked about for years to come. Germany started brighter and showed more skills. It wasn’t long before a high ball was misjudged by John Terry and allowed Miroslav Klose to run, out muscle Matthew Upson and score. Soon after Lucas Podolski out ran the English defense and tucked the ball into the very far corner. The second goal awoke the English team and the response came. Upson jumped well to meet a high ball and was quicker to it than the outstretched hand of German goalie Manuel Neuer. Minutes later Lampard shot fiercely off the crossbar the ball landed on the floor before Neuer scrambling back grabbed it. Many were sure that it was 2-2 but crucially not the linesman. Replays showed that England and English fans were correct and the ball had landed easily a feet or two inside the goal line. The second half started more tamely and it took classic counterattacking prowess for two more German goals to finish the World Cup for the English. The Lampard ‘disallowed’ goal now becomes the stuff of legend and much talk will follow recalling the 1966 World Cup final featuring the same two teams that had a somewhat similar non-goal. Except in that case England were given the goal that may not have been.

Argentina 3-1 Mexico
Carlos Tevez (26′, 52′) Gonzalo Higuain (33′) Javier Hernandez (71′)

A repeat of the same fixture four years ago produced a similar but somewhat less lopsided result. back then Maxi Rodriguez scored a goal to eliminate Mexico in extra time. This time the game was over by the 52nd minute. Mexico worked hard, had a ball come off the cross bar but their efforts were mostly long range with Carlos Salcido doing a lot of shooting. The First goal came from Carlos Tevez, replays showed him to be offside and the Mexicans spent a good two minutes protesting, to no avail of course. Minutes later Gonzalo Higuain doubled the lead after a Ricardo Osorio mistake gifted the ball to the Argentinian. Early in the second half the game was almost done when Tevez scored one of the better goals of the World Cup with a shot high into the top corner that eluded Mexican goalie Oscar Perez. Argentina lost a lot of interest after that and allowed Mexico to cut the lead to two goals when Javier Hernandez, getting a first start, grabbed one back. The game finished with a few more semi-exciting plays and a few semi-rough challenges. And now Germany awaits Argentina.

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World Cup 2010 Day 16, A Brief Recap

Uruguay 2 – 1 South Korea
Luis Suarez (8′, 80′) Lee Chung-Yong (68′)

The Asians served notice early with a freekick that hit the post and had Uruguay goalie Fernando Muslera very thankful. Uruguay however were their attacking selves and threatened. Only a few short minutes after that incident Diego Forlan crossed low and no one among the available Korean defenders and especially Korean goalie Jung Sung-Ryong reacted well so the ball made its way to the other side of the penalty box for a relatively uncomplicated tap in for Luis Suarez. Koreans worked hard and created half chances. In the second half the heavy rain came and started to become a factor in the game. Uruguay took their feet off the accelerator and were punished. Lee Chung-yong headed into goal after both Diego Lugano and Muslera went for the high ball and almost got into each others’ way. As it seemed extra time was a distinct possibility Suarez swerved the ball into the far corner and solidified his status as an elite goal scorer in World Cup 2010. Uruguay awaited the winner of the USA vs. Ghana match.

USA 1-2 Ghana
Landon Donovan (pen 62′) Kevin-Prince Boateng (5′) Asamoah Gyan (93′)

Ghana bettered their 2006 World Cup showing by advancing to the quarterfinals. The game started very well for the Africans as Kevin Prince Boateng ran at a (unnecessarily) back tracking USA defense and shot low between Tim Howard and the near post. This was a goal both Howard and the US team could have avoided and surely wanted back. US slowly came on as the game went on. Ghana however showed resilience and were close on occasions. In the second half Clint Dempsey was pushed slightly by Jonathan Mensah and Donovan converted the penalty. The game had its moments but extra time was needed. The game was settled early in the extra time when Asamoah Gyan, from a Andre Ayew ball, scored a similar type of goal as the first except this time the ball was shot hard and high into the top of the net and from a more central location. USA daring to dream of a final berth went home early with Donovan now holding the record for most World Cup goals by an American player at 5.

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World Cup 2010 Day 15, A Brief Recap

North Korea 0 – 3 Ivory Coast
Yaya Toure (14′) Romaric (20′) Salomon Kalou (82′)

Ivory Coast had to over come a mountain in terms of goal difference to possibly overtake Portugal in the standings and qualify for the second round. The mission seemed impossible and although the Africans dominated it was never really likely to be. Yaya Toure scored off a Arthur Boka cross, Romaric missed one and then soon after scored his goal off a rebound from a Drogba shot and Kalou made it 3-0 late. The Asians had showed promise against Brazil earlier in the competition but did little else after their first match. The Africans returned home as well and were part of a disappointing World Cup for the African continent.

Portugal 0 – 0 Brazil

A tie would suit both teams well and that is how it ended. The first half was somewhat chippy and it looked like a red card was coming sooner or later. In playing terms Brazil dominated possession but had no lock on real chances. Nilmar had a chance and so did Luis Fabiano. Raul Meireles was again the danger man for the Portuguese while Ronaldo didn’t do too much. The second half was tamer with few chances to occupy Julius Cesar and Eduardo in the goals but they were solid the few times they were called upon. As it turned out the suspended Kaka probably could have used the rest anyway as Brazil also rested Robinho.

Chile 1 – 2 Spain
Rodrigo Millar (47′) David Villa (24′) Andres Iniesta (37′)

Another match with a red card, two yellows for Chile’s Marco Estrada, resulted in both teams qualifying and more questions about refereeing consistency. For some lengths its seemed that Spain had a chance to run away with the game as they attacked repeatedly. David Villa’s goal came from 40+ yards when Chile goalie Claudio Bravo ran out to stop an attacking player and was stranded far and wide. Iniesta’s goal came not long after from the edge of the box. Early in the second half Chile made it 2-1 after a shot, again from the edge of the box, deflected off of Pique and in. Spain’s grip waned slightly as the second half went on and the last 10 minute was played like a light practice as Spain kept the ball in midfield apparently very happy with a 2-1 win. This match was the first loss for South American teams in 15 World Cup 2010 matches meaning that all 5 CONMEBOL representatives are through to the second round.

Switzerland 0 – 0 Honduras

Switzerland failed to get the goal or points that may have given them the chance to overcome either Chile or Spain for a place in the last 16. Eren Derdiyok had a chance early for the Swiss and Blaise Nkufo probably had the only others for the rest of the game. Later in the game Honduras had one really dangerous chance to deny the Swiss even the solitary point but it was not to be for the CONCACAF representatives. The Europeans departed the World Cup in a generally disappointing tournament so far for their continent.

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World Cup 2010 Day 14, A Brief Recap

Slovakia 3 – 2 Italy
Robert Vittek (25′ 73′) Kamil Kopunek (89′) Antonio Di Natale (81′) Fabio Quagliarella (90′)

Italy crashed out of the World Cup making it the second time a reigning champion has gone at the group stage after France suffered the same fate in 2002. Slovakia came into the match having disappointed and hadn’t even managed a handful of shots on goals in their first two matches. Italy’s much criticized aging squad didn’t show much enthusiasm and Marcello Lippi’s choice of giving a first start to Gennaro Gattuso seemed uninspired. Andrea Pirlo however was on the bench and fit for his first action. Wasn’t too long before Slovakia scored when Daniele De Rossi made a bad pass which was taken advantage of. The same Robert Vittek scored again from a corner kick later. By then Pirlo had been on for a few minutes and only at this point one could see some sense of urgency in the Italians. A couple of close misses later Antonio Di Natale got one back and still a draw would have been enough but Kamil Kopunek responded with a goal on his first action of the game. Italy goalkeeper Federico Marchetti perhaps could have done better here. Italy pushed forward and got a well taken one back but it was not enough.

Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand

Incredibly New Zealand left the World Cup undefeated finishing the group stage with three ties. They finished this match without a shot on goal but Paraguay were not very dangerous often either. Both Edgar Benitez and Cristian Riveros threatened but little else. It was just enough to keep South America’s undefeated run in South Africa intact.


Denmark 1-3 Japan
Jon Dahl Tomasson (81′) Keisuke Honda (17′) Yasuhito Endo (30′) Shinji Okazaki (87′)

Japan could count themselves as one of the surprises of the group stage as they made it two asian teams in the first knockout round. They beat Denmark with two of the best freekicks of the World Cup. Danish goalie Thomas Sorensen and his whole team surprised to find themselves down 0-2 in that way. Keisuke Honda’s star continued to rise as he did well but the possession statistics, especially earlier in the game, showed that Denmark tried but couldn’t finish. Veteran forward Jon Dahl Tomasson perhaps was entitled to be more frustrated than others as he even missed the penalty. Makoto Hasebe had a slight push on the back of Daniel Agger. The resulting penalty didn’t make it in but the rebound made its way back to Tomasson who was at least thankful to equal the mark set by Poul Nielsen for most goals (52) ever for the Danish national team.

Cameroon 1 – 2 Holland
Samuel Eto’o (pen 65′) Robin Van Persie (36′) Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (83′)

The first Dutch goal was a nicely worked one with moves from one end of the pitch to another involving the goal scorer, Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt. Their second was from a Arjen Robben shot which had rebounded off the post. In the middle of the two goals a Geremi freekick was handled by van der Vaart and Eto’o, probably the only real threat for Cameroon, converted the resulting penalty. Arjen Robben’s first appearance and his fitness will be a boost to Holland’s chances in the knockout stage.

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World Cup 2010 Day 13, A Brief Recap

England 1-0 Slovenia
Jermain Defoe (23′)

The English entered the game needing something out of this last group match, Slovenia were somewhat more comfortable but not at all assured of a place. The English started Jermaine Defoe instead of Emile Heskey and did well. Slovenia were pegged back often and it wasn’t long before the Defoe switch paid off as he scored well from a James Milner cross. Samir Handanovic was busier than David James in goal and while sometimes unconvincing did make a few good saves. Rooney was still having a tough World Cup and while a part of the triumph not a big part of it. Slovenia’s chances at progressing were still alive until the last minute’s events at the other group match between Algeria and USA.

USA 1-0 Algeria
Landon Donovan (90′)

The US were victims of questionable refereeing once again as a Clint Dempsey goal was wrongly called back for offside, otherwise the game was not exactly one sided as the Algerian did threaten somewhat too. As the game was seemingly heading to a 0-0 tie, a result that would not be not be enough for the US, a goal came. In the very last moments of the game Landon Donovan put his leg to the ball which had rebounded off the Algerian goalie. The American had made his way into the penalty box and took advantage to shoot the ball in almost unimpeded. US had somehow finished top of group C and avoided one European giant – Germany – in the second round.

Germany 1-0 Ghana
Mesut Ozil (60′)

Both teams had a good shot at qualifying. The game was open befitting the styles of the teams, coaches Joachim Low and Milan Rajevac both playing to their players’ strength at this World Cup. Ozil in partuicular was doing well for the Germans and tested Ghana goalie, Richard Kingson, more than once and finally managed to beat him as well with a nicely taken shot from the edge of the penalty box. The likes of Kwadwo Asamoah tested German goalie Manuel Neuer as well, mostly on weaker efforts. In the end the loss didn’t matter to the Ghanaians as they got an arguably favorable second round match up vs the US while Germany got to face England.

Australia 2-1 Serbia
Tim Cahill (69′) Brett Holman (73′) Marko Pantelic (84′)

Serbia had given themselves a chance by beating Germany in their previous match. Even Australia had a chance if they could beat Serbia comprehensively and have either Ghana and especially Germany lose comprehensively in their match against each other. Mark Schwarzer stood tall in the Aussie goal for the second game in a row and wasn’t beaten until after the Socceroos had managed their own two goals. Both teams exited the competition at full time and Serbia’s promising and impressive qualification campaign meant nothing, and not for the first time.

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World Cup 2010 Day 12, A Brief Recap

Mexico 0-1 Uruguay
Luis Suarez (43′)

Fears of a convenient draw, one which would guarantee both teams’ qualification to the first knockout round at the expense of South Africa and France seemed unfounded. Not only the starting 11s seemed offensive but the early exchanges showed intent to play the game. Mexico enjoyed better possession but not better chances. Cuauhtemoc Blanco starting for the first time for Mexico was not an important factor in the game but Giovani Dos Santos was more so and so was goalkeeper Oscar Perez who had a better game than his previous two. Late in the half Luis Suarez, somewhat disappointing so far, received a high ball and headed it to into the net for a half time Uruguay lead. Second half followed similar patterns with the a slight upper hand to Uruguay, Mexico searched but couldn’t find anything. Therefore Mexico consigned themselves to another meeting against Argentina, coming up in the second round.

France 1-2 South Africa
Florent Malouda (70′) Bongani Khumalo (20′) Katlego Mphela (37′)

The turmoil in the France camp had reached epic proportions with players refusing to train, Anelka sent back home and an official apparently resigning. The starting lineup hinted at all that with the likes of Florent Malouda and Patrice Evra on the bench. The game predictably didn’t go well for the French. Not only they conceded a relatively early goal but had Gourcuff sent off for a suspected elbow which replays showed wasn’t necessarily deserving of a card. The South Africans took advantage and scored again before the half. Thierry Henry made his first appearance of the 2010 World Cup and Malouda, a half time change, scored to make 1-2. The score however was not enough for South Africa as they became the first host nation ever to be eliminated in the first round.

Greece 0-2 Argentina
Martin Demichelis (77′) Martín Palermo (89′)

Greece had resurrected their chances after winning their second group game versus Nigeria. Argentina made many perhaps surprising changes in giving starts to Nicolas Otamendi, Diego Milito, and Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero. Greece adopted a very defensive stance and had Georgios Samaras up on front on his own for most of the game. That didn’t mean that Greece had no chances as the Argentinian defense featuring Nicolas Burdisso and Martin Demichelis remained shaky and vulnerable. How ever it was the Argentinians who commanded the attacking story. Messi threatened often but was equaled by Greece goalie Alexandros Tzorvas every time. It took almost of all the game for the Greek defense to break and it seemed almost inevitable that it would. And so Greece exited the World Cup and Argentina got the full nine points available.

Nigeria 2-2 South Korea
Kalu Uche (12′) Yakubu Aiyegbeni (pen 69′) Lee Jung-Soo (38′) Park Chu-Young (49′)

South Korea had two hard worked games behind them with three points as reward. Nigeria had nothing to show for their disappointing efforts but could somehow escape if they won. Since Greece was perhaps unsurprisingly losing to Argentina three points by Nigeria could have been enough. A defensive lapse allowed the Nigerians to take the lead but the possession statistics was rising for the Asians and they took advantage off of a freekick. A second South Korea goal dampened Nigerian hopes but they did come close to getting their own and were offered a penalty to make up for their many misses. A second African team fell at the first hurdle – handicapped by poor finishing – on this first day of the third and last group matches.

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World Cup 2010 Day 11, A Brief Recap

Portugal 7-0 North Korea
Raul Meireles (29′) Simao (53′) Hugo Almeida (56′) Tiago (60′, 89′) Liedson (81′) Cristiano Ronaldo (87′)

A Carvalho early header hit the post. Not too long after a Tiago pass opened it for Meireles to score. North Korea were on the brink of losing it in many early exchanges though it wasn’t a total loss. On a day when the Korean were less defensive and less organized – perhaps the rain wasn’t helping – the Portuguese were opportunistic and close to every thing was going in for them. As the match moved on it became more and more like an exhibition match and the Koreans only threatened from wide and rarely at that. The midfield was conceded to the Portuguese more as the game went on as well. So the Portuguese made it almost impossible for Ivory Coast to catch them with the odd chance that the Africans can replicate a similar result to this game when they meet the North Koreans in the last group match.

Switzerland 0-1 Chile
Mark Gonzalez (75′)

Chile continued their offensive, going for goal ways. Switzerland their organized ways too. Referees their inconsistent ways as well. Status quo all around then. Therefore it came as no surprise that Chile came close often, were denied often and Behrami was sent off early (in the 31st minute). Successive semi-breakthroughs by Chile were occasionally interrupted by the Swiss moving forward. Finally and unlike the previous Swiss match, versus Spain, the former Liverpool man Mark Gonzalez managed to score well and his goal was predictably very much not against the run of play. Swiss haven’t done anything to deserve wins (or losses) and should be happy with their three point haul from two matches. Chile on the other hand deserve their six points from two matches if for nothing else than going for the attack.

Spain 2-0 Honduras
David Villa (17′, 51′)

The very early minutes of the game produced possession for Spain and a Torres ball hit the crossbar to emphasis that point. Those first few misses also hinted at another frustrating night for them. On the other end of the pitch Iker Casillas, in the Spain goal, didn’t look very confident the few times times the ball was brought to him. Spain buzzed and swerved around the opposing box for long stretches and finally David Villa cut in towards goal and scored into the middle-far end of the net. Spain nerves were therefore calmed early and more chances flowed. The occasional semi-dirty and play acting continued to rear its ugly head as well. Early second half featured another Villa goal not too unlike his first. A Villa penalty miss – ball was shot to the right and inches wide of the net – came later and was followed with Cesc Fabregas and Juan Mata making their first appearances. In the end little more than three points was achieved and the final score though it could have been more was also another warning that Spain must be less wasteful.

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