Jun 272010
 

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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Jun 232010
 

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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Jun 182010
 

Germany 0-1 Serbia
Milan Jovanovic (38′)

The game started with a torrent of yellow cards. Germans and equally the Serbians and there neutrals were entitled to question the consistency if not the legitimacy of some of the cards shown. This soon led to a second yellow for Klose inside 40 minutes and before any player could compose himself Serbia went ahead. Krasic’s crossed ball was headed back towards goal and an unmarked Milan Jovanovic scored. The Serbians gained confidence and threatened more. Germany followed this by throwing in offensive players, in Mario Gomez for example. All the work seemed to be undone when yet another Serbian player, Vidic, handled the ball in the penalty box. The subsequent penalty was taken by Podolski but Stojkovic saved it well. A slew of close chances followed by both teams but in the end Mallenco, the Spanish referee, probably had more influence on the game than any official should have.


Slovenia 2-2 USA
Valter Birsa (13′) Zlatan Ljubijankic (42′) Landon Donovan (48′) Michael Bradley (82′)

The early clashes were slightly to Slovenia’s favor and it wasn’t long before the Slovenian midfielder shot from around 30 yards and left US goalie Tim Howard completely flat footed. What followed was somewhat of a stalemate that had Handanovic making a few acrobatic saves. US seemed to sense more was needed and started to exploit some questionable Slovenian defending. Slovenians however surprised again, as Zlatan Ljubijankic just avoided being offside and scored. The second half had barely started when Landon Donovan took advantage of a defensive lapse, courtesy of Bostjan Cesar, and shot hard into the roof of the net from a tight angle. This was beautifully taken as he was only a handful of yards away from the goal post. USA piled on the pressure but Slovenia had a few of their own. One of the US chances finally paid dividends as Bradley shot well into the back of the net. The US had a third goal questionably called back soon after and so the game ended with one point for each team.

England 0-0 Algeria

The game had both teams changing their goalkeepers for respective blunders. The game started with Algeria with better possession but nothing really came of it. England took brief control towards the end of the half and they themselves only troubled the relatively inexperienced Algeria goalie only once or twice. Any fluency and passing was missing form the English team with Rooney in particular contributing very little. The second half followed much the same pattern with England giving away possession rather too easily at times. The few times England threatened things just didn’t happen for them. Some credit goes to Rais M’Bolhi, the aforementioned goalie, Nadir Belhadj, Rafik Halliche and the entire Algerian team for keeping their cool. On the English side this was a disappointing performance not unlike the much maligned Steve McLaren coaching era. And so back to the drawing board for current coach Fabio Capello.

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Jun 122010
 

South Korea 2-0 Greece
Lee Jung-Soo (7′) Park Ji-Sung (52′)

Greece started a more adventerous style than recent history and reputation has suggested. Coach Rehhagel’s men though seemed disorganized and unprepared to deal with a hard working and counter attacking South Korea. The likes of Gekas and Karagounis were entirely none factors as Lee Jung-Soo and Park Ji-Sung scored for the Koreans. Cha Du-Ri for example exemplified the better Koreans but they still could fall to a more organized, pressing team.

Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria
Gabriel Heinze (6′)

Argentina left the likes of Milito and Maxi on the bench in favor of Higuain and Di Maria and also started Veron. Nigeria on the other hand left Martins on the bench. The most notable points from this games were the number of chances Messi missed or was thwarted by the competent goalkeeping of Enyeama. This game was a total write off for Veron who even struggled to complete easy passes. The aforementioned Martins made a difference in Nigeria’s shape and attacking intent with his speed and skill when he came on early in the second half. Argentina remained somewhat disorganized tactically and had the likes of Tevez and Gutierrez to thank for some hard work.

England 1-1 USA
Steven Gerrard (4′) Clint Dempsey (40′)

Heskey remains a mystery favorite of various coaches. In his defense is the ability to open paths and space for his striking partner(s) which in this case was Rooney, of course. After England scored early its lineup was tweaked with a relatively early substitution (Wright-Phillips for Milner) in the 30th minute, presumably Capello either saw something or didn’t like Milner’s early booking. Robert Green continued the English goalkeeping troubles by fumbling the ball and letting it trickle in from the Dempsey shot (does anybody doubt the fact that Green and David James are one and two in the English setup only because of EPL’s money bonanza?). England and indeed the US had many chances or perhaps half chances – by Ronney and Altidore for example – but in the end players like Lampard and Dempsey, for England and the US respectively, needed to be more involved if more goals were to be scored.

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