Jul 022010
 

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seemed the first to be trouble for Brazil was the Bastos vs Arjen Robben one so it was little surprise that Bastos was withdrawn early in the second half.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.

Please follow and like us:
Jun 282010
 

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.

Please follow and like us:
Jun 252010
 

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.

Please follow and like us:
Jun 202010
 

Slovakia 0-2 Paraguay
Enrique Vera (27′) Cristian Riveros (86′)

This game should be most remembered for the tame effort by Slovakia, the disappointment of losing the three points at the last minute in their first game against New Zealand must have weighed heavily on the players. Vladimir Weiss, Marek Hamsik, and Robert Vittek very rarely featured and nothing was created by the Slovaks until a solitary shot on goal very late. The Paraguayans were not neccessarily a much superior team but didn’t need to be. Coach Marino was at least the more enterprsing as he gave a start to three forwards in Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez. The goals were nicely taken and the Slovak goalie, Jan Mucha, was tested on a few additional occasions.

Italy 1-1 New Zealand
Vincenzo Iaquinta (pen 29′) Shane Smeltz (7′)

One of those matches that on the day of the draw, back in December 2009, looked one sided produced something not so much one sided. That is not to say Italy didn’t dominate possession. New Zealand’s first goal came when a freekick took a slight deflection, ricocheted off defender Fabio Cannavaro and in the path of Shane Smeltz. The goal should have been offside if that slight deflection had been seen. Italy took control without being spectacular and were offered a penalty when Daniele De Rossi’s jersey was tugged. Marcelo Lippi made two somewhat early substitutions at half time (Camoranesi for Pepe and Di Natale for Gilardino) to get more movement out of the offense but things didn’t improve enough to take the match in the needed direction. Credit must go to New Zealand goalie and defender, Mark Paston and Ryan Nelson respectively, for doing the job when called on.

Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast
Luis Fabiano (25′, 50′) Elano (62′) Didier Drogba (79′)

The game started with the Ivorians showing hints of promises but Brazil, in particular defensively in Juan and Lucio, didn’t let them threaten. Minutes later some good passing with Robinho and Kaka involved freed Luis Fabiano to shoot hard into the top of the net. Brazil were working hard, frustrating the Africans and using the flanks well. As the second half started more of the same led to some good ball juggling by Fabiano and he scored again. The quality of the ball control was helped in part by the inept and naive Ivory Coast defense. However replays showed that Fabiano had handled the ball and subsequent replays showed that ref had seen that too! Ivory Coast then brought on Gervinho, who had ceded his starting place to Dider Drogba, and he changed the face of their attack with his speed and skill. This freed Drogba and he seemed to be able to do better. Before that could happen however, Brazil got another when an accurate low cross allowed Elano to tap in the ball. Later on Drogba scored an easy header that left Brazil goalie Julio Cesar stranded. The game ended poorly when Kaka was first shown a yellow for complaining. He then received a second yellow for what looked like an elbow into the face Kader Keita but replays showed that Keita had exaggerated. A Kaka-less – but owners of six full points – Brazil face Portugal in the coming week unless the sure to come yellow card appeal succeeds.

Please follow and like us:
Jun 152010
 

New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia
Winston Reid (90′) Robert Vittek (50′)

The pattern of timid matches continued with neither team dominating. Slovakia showed glimmers of better technic but Hamsik and others were rarely dangerous. The game didn’t change much as it went on but Vittek managed to score on one of the few real forays into any of the penalty boxes. New Zealand came alive, slightly, towards the end and Slovakia didn’t react much and as happens often were punished with a the late goal by the young New Zealand player.

Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal

Drogba made only the substitutes bench and Simao couldn’t start due to a training knock. Cristiano Ronaldo showed glimpses of his power and hit the post early on. The teams seemed to cancel each other out with a few probing forays. Ivory Coast held a slight advantage throughout, however. The Africans started the second well but Portugal responded well soon after as well. Drogba came on in the 65th minute for Kalou, sporting the FIFA approved elbow cast. He was greeted with some of the loudest roars of the this World Cup. Among the notable incidents were Drogba and Keita, another substitute, getting close in added time amid several players suffering cramps.

Brazil 2-1 North Korea
Maicon (55′) Elano (72′) Ji Yun-Nam (89′)

This match will be most remembered for the defensive resistance and even few half chances that the North Korean unknowns created, especially by the player dubbed the Asian Rooney, Jong Tae-Se. Brazil seemed to be headed for a historic failure. But early in the second half Maicon rescued Brazil with a goal from the tightest angle possible, one that some may claim was only a cross. Instead the ball made its way between the Korean goalie, Ri Myong-Guk, and the near post. Minutes later a classic through pass from Robinho found its way on the foot of Elano who shot past the goalie. As the game was ending with a sigh of relief for the Brazilians Ji Yun-Nam ran through the Brazilian defense and scored a nice goal. Brazil have a lot to think about and need to show more variety offensively, but can they?

Please follow and like us:
Facebook IconTwitter IconGoogle+Google+