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.

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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.

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Jun 212010
 

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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Jun 162010
 

Chile 1-0 Honduras
Jean Beausejour (34′)

Honduras’ squad, for the first time at a World Cup, featured 3 brothers. Wilson Palacios in the starting line-up with Johnny and Jerry on the bench. Chile missing Humberto Suazo to injury and therefore less of an scoring threat, Honduras missing a good scoring chunk as well with Carlos Costly and David Suazo missing. And therefore the offense left in the hands of veterans Carlos Pavon and Jorge Valdivia for Honduras and Chile respectively. Early possession and half chances were almost exclusively for the attacking Chileans with Alexis Sanchez and Matias Fernandes doing some good work. The 65%+ possession paid dividends with Beausejour scoring from a low cross. The domination mostly continued and had the Honduran goalie, Noel Valladares, making one of the nicest saves so far in the 63rd minute. In the end Honduras produced little and Chile came reasonably close on many occasions, dominated possession and showed more attacking intent than most, as promised by coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Spain 0-1 Switzerland
Gelson Fernandes (52′)

The game had Frei and Behrami missing for the Swiss while Torres not starting for Spain. For the second game in a row one team had a good lock on domination as Spain controlled the ball for long stretches. Early in the second half we witnessed one of the bigger shocks of the World Cup when the Swiss, through Fernandes, scored first. Iker Cassilas, Pique and the whole Spanish defense made a meal of a high ball. The Spanish were then forced to bring on Navas and Torres for Silva and Busquets. Of the many close calls that followed Xabi Alonso’s crossbar was perhaps the closest. Not long after the Swiss themselves were a post away from making it 2-0 and the game turned into one Puyol and Pique would want to forget. Iniesta left the field due to injury and was replaced by Pedro but half and full chances amounted to little as Switzerland changed the face of group H. Criticism of Spain’s starting line-up followed.

South Africa 0-3 Uruguay
Diego Forlan (24′, pen 80′) Alvaro Pereira (90′)

Uruguay started with more of an attacking line-up in this their second game as all three of Forlan, Suarez and Cavani started. The advantage of the earlier exchanges went to the South Americans but Tshabalala wasn’t shy to shoot when he could. The game wasn’t the most exciting but Forlan did his part with a long range shot that showed that the Adidas Jabulani ball is not all bad. Uruguay had the better of chances with Cavani in particular very wasteful with those few chances. In the last quarter of the match the South Africans became more desperate knowing a loss would make second round very unlikely. Soon after however a debatable penalty and red card resulted from Khune’s slight contact with Suarez, the South African goalie perhaps too harshly judged. Forlan scored and as the crowd was leaving in dismay Alvaro Pereira finished it off right at the whistle.

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