Jun 292010
 

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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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 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?

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