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seemed the first to be trouble for Brazil was the Bastos vs Arjen Robben one so it was little surprise that Bastos was withdrawn early in the second half.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

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Jun 262010
 

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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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 192010
 

Holland 1-0 Japan
Wesley Sneijder (53′)

The first half was fortress Japan as the Asians defended well and didn’t let the Europeans do much at all. The second half necessitated a more open match because Sneijder scored early. He shot hard from the edge of the box, his shot was not properly handled by Japan goalie, Eiji Kawashima, as the ball made its way behind him. Japan tried to break down Holland and came reasonably close on a few occasions. Holland themselves had a few more clear cut chances of their own, especially by substitute Ibrahim Afellay. In the end Holland gained the three points without too much trouble.

Ghana 1-1 Australia
Asamoah Gyan (pen 25′) Brett Holman (11′)

The Game started brightly for Australia and they soon scored from a freekick. Kingson the Ghana goalie let the ball shot at goal rebound in front of him and Holman rushed and slotted it high into the back of the net. Soon after that Ghana actually grew in confidence and took control. Good play by Ayew, a cross later and a shot towards goal struck Kewell’s hand. Although he tried to plead innocence he had gifted Ghana a penalty and also got himself sent off. Asamoah sent Mark Schwarzer the wrong way and converted the penalty. Ghana continued to be the more dangerous team as the half ended all square at 1-1. The second half saw hints of more confidence or perhaps desperation by the socceroos as they made offensive subs to bolster their chances. Despite being one man up Ghana didn’t take much advantage but had their own share of solid possession.

Denmark 2-1 Cameroon
Nicklas Bendtner (33′) Dennis Rommedahl (61′) Samuel Eto’o (10′)

The game started with Eto’o taking up a much needed more offensive and direct position, it immediately paid off as he managed to score after a rather bad giveaway/bad pass from Christian Poulsen. A lot of opportunities followed, many due to questionable defendoing courtesy of both teams. Before the half Bendtner poked one in when Rommedahl, after receiving a 50+ yard ball from Kjaer, stormed down the wing and crossed into the area. Cameroon could claim to have the edge at half time and Eto’o hit the post late on too, courtesy of another one of the aforementioned questionable lapses. The second half saw an increasingly desperate contest that lacked defensive focus. This led to the second Denmark goal as Rommedahl curled one in to score inside the far post. More misses followed as the African challenge suffered another set back.

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Jun 132010
 

Algeria 0-1 Slovenia
Robert Koren (79′)

The first half featured a bevy of giveaways that suggested two nervous and/or weak teams. The second half was slightly better but seemed to be going nowhere. It featured the Algerian Ghezzal being sent off after a second yellow. Just as the earlier feeling of the game ending as a tie was about to materialize Chaouchi let a not too powerful shot go in. He failed to block and the ball almost went through him.

Serbia 0-1 Ghana
Asamoah Gyan (pen 84′)

Ghana missing Essien were intriguing to watch. Both teams showed some tactical ability and were somewhat cancelling each other out. The second half saw more chances. Krasic, Zigic and Jovanovic had acceptable but not great games and on the Ghanaian side Asamoah Gyan was doing well. Another second yellow game incident saw Lukovic out at the 74th minute. And again the game seemed to be heading for a scoreless tie when Kuzmanovic handled the ball needlessly in the box. It resulted in the only goal of the game. Not for the first time Serbia did not help their own cause.

Germany 4-0 Australia
Lukas Podolski (8′) Miroslav Klose (26′) Thomas Muller (67′) Cacau (70′)

The young Germans were their steely selves and at least for this opening game not only kept their nerves but were disciplined and executed well. The Socceroos were poor in dealing with the superiority of the midfield and offense of the Germans and were time and again running to cover raids by Podolski, Muller and Ozil. Tim Cahill was sent off with a straight red in a somewhat questionable call but nevertheless Australia mustered few and far between chances and Neuer, in the German goal, did not have a difficult night.

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