Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book review: Top 10 of Football, 250 lists on the beautiful game

Top 10 of Football by Russell Ash and Ian Morrison

Whenever I enter a local bookstore, I always look if they have any books related to soccer; I just love reading a good book about the beautiful game. While I love biographies and autobiographies, what I especially love are the informational and statistic books, not only are these books a joy to read, but they always teach me something new.

It's hard to find books which carry in-depth information from leagues around the world, books that aren't completely focussed on the English Premiership, or just the World Cup. And when I read through "Top 10 of Football: 250 Lists on the beautiful game" I was amazed, not only did this cover the World Cup and other big tournaments like the European Championships in depth, but it also covered things like the top 10 goal-scorers of the Copa America! And that's just barely scratching the surface of the range and depth of information found in this great book.

I found out that the Belgian league was 4th in the top 10 oldest leagues in the World, behind England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. I learned about Josef Bican, a man only second to Pele having scored an astounding 537 goals in only 358 games! That's about 1.5 goals a game, having Bican on the field assured you at least a goal a game if not more! And that's just one man on one of these 250 fantastic lists!

The mighty Josef Bican
While at first you may think that a book comprised of just lists may be just a bunch of dates and numbers, it's much more than that. This book tells you an amazing statistic like that Arsenal went 49 consecutive games without defeat in the Premier League, then it'll go ahead and break down how the record started, what was going on with the team, with plenty of score-lines and information about the team, time-period, and league. The book also offers is a myriad of lists like the greatest World Cup goals, Champions League firsts, and worst disasters at football stadiums around the world. So it isn't a bunch of dry numbers and names.

There is plenty of information which never ends: from miscellaneous top tens, to historical top tens, this is one of the greatest books about soccer I've ever read. And it is most certainly the most informing book I've ever had, whether it be about the beautiful game's history or money, you're sure to find what you're looking for in this book. So next time you're browsing through bookstores, or you're online wanting to buy a book, be sure that you look for "Top 10 of Football: 250 Lists on the beautiful game" which you can buy here.

Spain push past Portugal with David Villa goal

In 2008 we saw Spain dominate the EUROs, a beautiful possession based dominance which was guided by Xavi and Iniesta along with David Villa and Fernando Torres. Spain have never won the World Cup, and this could be their best chance yet with a team full of skilled individuals. But the Spain that we're seeing in South Africa is a bit different than the EURO Spain, the first thing that's different is the coach; Luis Aragones was the mastermind who won the European championship for Spain, but now Vicente del Bosque is the coach.

While he hasn't changed too much, he's tried dabbling in a 4-3-3 with a more defensive midfield by taking out David Silva and putting in Sergio Busquets. This results in a less dynamic play than their 4-4-2 with Iniesta and Silva as quick moving wingers who slipped passes through defenses for Torres and Villa. But it's not that bad, Spain still play their patient game, just a bit differently...

CAPE TOWN, June 30, 2010 Sergio Ramos (C) of Spain vies with Simao (R) of Portugal during the 2010 World Cup round of 16 soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 29, 2010.
Sergio Ramos on one of his usual rampaging runs
Spain - Portugal

The first half we saw Spain be frustrated with Portugal's tidy defense, passes weren't as perfect as they should be, players lost the ball too often, and Torres was having yet another bad day. Nonetheless Spain still had the majority of possession with their tiki taka passing which was well parried by Portugal's organized defense.

But Portugal had the best chances in the first half, swift counter-attacks often led by Fabio Coentrao who was pure class at left-back for Portugal. Ronaldo always went down easily and he didn't get anything from the Argentinean referee. There weren't any memorable chances, just a couple of headers from Portugal going just wide, and a free kick from Ronaldo which Casillas didn't have too much trouble with.

David Villa celebrating his goal
In the second half, Spain got out of second gear and began to turn it on with David Villa who played on the left side of the attack. del Bosque made a key change in the 59th by taking off Fernando Torres and putting on Fernando Llorente who played more centrally and gave another option for players to use. Eventually Spain got the only goal by maneuvering outside Portugal's box and eventually releasing Villa with a sublime backheel from Xavi. Villa had his first attempt saved but then tucked his second shot his second shot in the net striking the underneath of the bar.

After the goal it was over, Ronaldo was desperately lashing shots wide in his attempt for personal glory and Spain came close to a second with Llorente nodding a header just wide of the goal. Spain were the better team, but it took them some time to exert their dominance over Portugal.

Paraguay edge past Japan in penalty shootout

Japan's Yuichi Komano (R) hits the crossbar during a penalty shootout in their 2010 World Cup second round soccer match against Paraguay at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Komano hitting the bar
For the first time, Paraguay have made it to the quarter finals of the World Cup, a historic occasion for the South American team. In fact, all of the South American teams have really shined this World Cup, and even though some won't be in the quarter-finals, the tournament is still being dominated by them.

Paraguay - Japan

A tight and cagey match, if there was one game in the round of 16 that was going to go to penalties, I would've picked this one because of the equality in skill of the two teams. The first half had few chances, Matsui hit the bar from 25 yards out, and Santa Cruz had a good chance go wide from in front of net, but there was nothing too memorable.

Paraguay's Oscar Cardozo celebrates next to goalkeeper Justo Villar after scoring the winning penalty after a penalty shootout in their 2010 World Cup second round soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Cardozo celebrating his final penalty kick
The second half was something to forget, no memorable chances as both teams didn't want to risk conceding and so they went into 30 minutes of extra time. In extra time Paraguay came closest to the goal but there was some brave goal-keeping which pushed the game to penalty kicks.

There was only one miss in the shootout and it was Yuichi Komano who had his shot go too high and hit the bar. Nobody else missed and Cardozo scored the last penalty for Paraguay to let them go through to the quarter-finals and meet either Spain or Portugal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Brazil dominates 3-0 past fighting Chile

Pele of the famous 1970 Brazil team
Brazil, the mighty powerful unstoppable samba kings which never fail to inspire. But while many remember the beautiful sumptuous Brazil of the 1970's which could weave and pass it's way through any defense, this isn't that Brazil. This Brazil is physically large and imposing with players like Lucio, Maicon, and Luis Fabiano to name a few, this Brazil is more defensive with a clear focus on not conceding goals with two defensive midfielders, this Brazil is dependent on the counter-attack, while they are creative, they are best on the counter with their speed and power. And this Brazil is probably the best team of the tournament even though they might not have the same style of the historic 1970's side.

Brazil - Chile

Both teams came out with a very attacking mindset, they both went searching for goals, but in the end only one team found them. Brazil scored in the 35th from a corner, Maicon strikes it well and Juan jumps the tallest to head it in under the bar. The second came four minutes later with a deadly counter-attack, Robinho was cutting in from the left, then a quick pass to Kaka at the top of the box who with the first touch slides Luis Fabiano a buttery pass which the Sevilla striker takes and rounds the keeper to score the second.

June 28, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02228648 Brazil's Luis Fabiano (T) leaps over Chile goalkeeper Caludio Bravo en route to a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 June 2010.
An absolutely beautiful goal which embodies Brazilian flair and teamwork along with their swift and deadly counter-attack. Then in the 59th we see another extremely fast and deadly attack from Brazil which finishes off the game, it all began with a spectacular run from Ramires who picks to ball at halfway and cuts through the center of the field until the top of the box. From there, in full stride Ramires lays the ball off for Robinho who finishes with a curling shot which kills the game for Chile.

Chile couldn't penetrate Brazil's powerful defence, and after the great defending, Brazil were ruthless in attack. It's a shame that Chile couldn't meet a weaker opponent because it would've been wonderful to see more of the attacking side.

Netherlands deal with Slovakia 2-1

The Netherlands are a great side, while they've never won a World Cup,  they've certainly made their mark on the tournament in the past. Introducing the calm and patient style of play, "total football", which relies on keeping the ball away from the opponent with fluid and intelligent movement, they really made history. Now, they've probably got one of the greatest attacking teams in their history, and while they have often had factions in the team, if they can all get along in South Africa, they're gonna be a team to watch.

June 28, 2010 - Durban, South Africa - epa02227925 Dutch Arjen Robben (R) scores the 1-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Slovakia at the Durban stadium in Durban, South Africa, 28 June 2010.
Robben scoring the first goal for the Netherlands
Netherlands - Slovakia 

Robben marked his return against Slovakia, his pace and positional sense provides width and another dimension of play for the team, and just 18 minutes in, he put his name on the score-sheet. A quick counter-attack all starting from Sneijder's brilliant ball for Robben to chase allowed the Bayern Munich player to cut in and finish across into the bottom corner. After this, chances were sparse and the Netherlands went into halftime with the lead thanks to Robben.

But the beginning of the second half had a flurry of chances which were all parried by the two keepers. In the 50th Robben was looking for his second with a low shot, but Mucha managed to get his fingers to tip it around the post. Then just seconds later the Dutch square the ball to Van Persie who is wide open in front of goal, but his shot is saved by Mucha's face. Then in the 67th minute Slovakia push forward and Stoch has his shot from just inside the box tipped just over the bar from Stekelenburg. A minute later Slovakia get an even better chance, Vittek beats the offside trap only to shoot a central (but powerful) shot which Stekelenburg does well to save.

DURBAN, June 29, 2010 Martin Jakubko (top L) of Slovakia is fouled by the Netherlands' goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (bottom R) during the 2010 World Cup round of 16 soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, South Africa, on June 28, 2010. Netherlands won 2-1 and is qualified for the quarterfinals.
Vittek earning Slovakia their penalty with a touch of acting
The second goal came in the 84th, the Netherlands catch Slovakia sleeping with a quick free kick, Kuyt rounds the keeper and squares the ball to Sneijder for the Inter Milan player to slot home. Slovakia pull one back in the fourth minute of extra time, Vittek was brought down by Stekelenburg and the referee gives the Dutch keeper a yellow and awards a penalty. Vittek steps up to take it and slots it home, while the Slovakian players rush to grab the ball hoping to get an equalizer, the referee blows for the end of the game.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Argentina overpowers Mexico 3-1, and more pleas for technology

Maradona's hand of god goal
For the second time today, we see a situation where technology could've helped, it didn't help because FIFA doesn't allow it. It's funny, because back in 1986 when Maradona scored with his hand, video technology would've solved that enigma; so you'd expect that 24 years later the governing body of football around the world would add video technology, but I guess not...

Argentina - Mexico

Another match that started a bit tightly, but once it got going we saw some fantastic attacking play from both sides. Mexico started the better side, with an effort way far out from Salcido in the 8th minute which dipped and struck the crossbar, Mexico put Argentina on the back foot. But with time Argentina grew, they found a controversial goal in the 26th with Tevez who rarely scores at international level. Messi threads Tevez in with a through ball, Mexico goal-keeper Perez gets to it first but has it bounce up out of his hands, then Messi follows up to chip the ball to Tevez who is in front of the goal and clearly offside by about a meter. From that position the Manchester City striker nods in Messi's chip for the opening goal.

Mexico's Ricardo Osorio (R) fights for the ball against Argentina's Lionel Messi during the 2010 World Cup second round soccer match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Henry Romero (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Messi still unable to score this match
Referee Roberto Rosetti decides to talk the goal over with his assistant after a barrage of incessant Mexican protests all telling him to look at the screen. Rosetti talks it over and the assistant tells him that he didn't see the offside, but Rosettie knows that it's clearly offside by looking at the screen, but can't disallow it because of FIFA's rules against use of video technology. The Mexican players were not happy, some rough play from them as they tried to deal with Maradona's Argentina.

But El Tri just couldn't deal with Argentina, in the 33rd minute Osorio receives a back pass which he can't control and lays into the path of oncoming Higuain. Higuain has no defenders on him, he rounds the keeper and slots the ball into the back of the open net for Argentina's second. After halftime tempers were cooled and in the 52nd minute, we see a magical piece of skill from Carlos Tevez. From outside the box, Tevez makes space for himself and sends a rocket into the top right corner for what will be a contender for goal of the tournament.

Mexico got a consolation goal in the 71st minute with future Manchester United striker Hernandez who turns well to get into a position to blast the ball into the top of Romero's net to make the final score 3-1.

England demolished 4-1 by Germany

England's phantom goal in 1966
It was really interesting seeing England's build-up to the World Cup, everything about keeping Rooney fit, making sure the golden boy doesn't get injured, and playing a 4-5-1 around him like at Manchester United. Strangely enough, Rooney was terrible this tournament, if I were forced to give him an average rating for all four matches, it'd probably be something like a 3/10.

It's also really interesting to see a reverse situation of 1966, the year England won the World Cup thanks to a goal which didn't actually go over the line by Geoff Hurst. That 1966 final which in extra time England beat Germany 4-2 with a phantom goal is England's only World Cup glory, and yet again while many talked about the "golden generation" etc, England fail to achieve on the big stage.

June 27, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Germany v England FIFA World Cup Second Round - South Africa 2010 - Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa - 27/6/10..Miroslav Klose scores Germany's first goal.
Klose scoring Germany's first goal
Germany - England

The first 15 or 20 minutes weren't the most exciting, both teams were analyzing each other, scared to take risks or chances which could result in errors, but once things got going, it became a very exciting match. While Germany were passing and stroking the ball around looking to create wonderful through balls and silky slide passes, their goal came in a very "route 1" type of way. Goal-keeper Neuer boots the ball up to Klose who catches Terry and Upson asleep as he gets around them to slide and tap the goal past David James.

June 27, 2010 - Bloemfontein, South Africa - epa02226330 German Lukas Podolski scores the 2-0 against England's keeper David James during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between Germany and England at the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 27 June 2010.
Podolski finishing for Germany's second
England were shell-shocked, a quick, powerful goal which immobilized the English until Germany got their second with Podolski. Beautiful silky one-touch triangle passing from the Germans which eventually releases Muller outside the box with no one on him, the young German remains cool and squares it to oncoming Podolski who finished between James's legs.

England eventually woke up as Upson scored with a header from Milner's cross, Neuer had come out to challenge for the ball, but the German goal-keeper missed it completely letting Muller head it in for England's first. Right after this Lampard lobs Neuer with a wonderful volley from outside the box which pings onto the bottom of the cross-bar, the ball bounces a foot and a half in and then pings again on the bottom of the cross-bar as Neuer quickly collects the ball. An obvious goal which the referee doesn't allow, and so for England it is 1966 reversed.

June 27, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Germany v England FIFA World Cup Second Round - South Africa 2010 - Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa - 27/6/10..England's Frank Lampard (Not Pictured) scores a goal which the referee Jorge Larrionda did not give.
Lampard's chip bouncing in the goal
In the second half we see a more convincing England, 57th minute, Lampard thunders a free kick onto the bar, but 10 minutes later Germany score their third. A well crafted counter-attack against a sleepy England allows 20 year-old Muller to strike from just inside the box, beating David James at the near post virtually ending the match. Germany had time to grab another goal, yet another crafted counter-attack with Ozil squaring the ball to Muller for the young German's second goal.

The game finished with German dominance, a 4-1 score-line which will resonate the message that just because the EPL is the top league in the world, doesn't mean that England has the top players in the world...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ghana kicks USA out of World Cup 2-1 in extra time

And the USA's journey is over, while it's wonderful to see an African nation to go through to the quarter-finals, you can't help but feel sad for the Americans.

June 26, 2010 - Rustenburg, South Africa - epa02224556 Ghana's Kevin Prince Boateng (L) scores a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, 26 June 2010.
Boateng scoring the first goal for Ghana
USA - Ghana

Ghana started well right away, a goal after just five minutes from Kevin Prince Boateng made the stadium erupt in cheers from the African support. Ricardo Clark gave the ball away in the American half, and Boateng snaked his way around DeMerit to then bury the ball into the bottom left corner. The USA were unable to fight against Ghana's neat and tidy possession game, and they had to have a team talk at halftime from Bob Bradley before they turned it on in the second half.

USA began to push, and eventually Dempsey was brought down in the area earning the USA a penalty. Donovan stepped up to take it and pinged it in off of the right post to equalize the score at 1-1. The Americans pushed but they couldn't break down the Ghanaian defense and score before the end of the 90 minutes.

June 26, 2010 - Rustenburg, South Africa - epa02224567 Ghana's Kevin Prince Boateng (R) celebrates his goal with teammate Asamoah Gyan (L) during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, 26 June 2010.
The two scorers Gyan and Boateng celebrating
Ghana came out to win in extra time, and just three minutes in Gyan scored a wonderful goal to make it 2-1. A long ball which he chested down as he sprinted past the last two USA defenders to then lash a dipping volley over Howard and into the back of the net. While the USA pushed, they just couldn't complete yet another epic comeback, Howard went up for the corners, and the entire team wanted it, but in the end, the black stars go through to play Uruguay in the quarter finals.

Uruguay win 2-1 over Korea Republic to advance to Quarter-Finals

Uruguay have made history again, they did it in 1930 by hosting and winning the first World Cup ever. In 1950 they won it again in Brazil with one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, they beat Brazil 2-1 in the final. When Ghiggia scored the winner, the Maracana stadium went silent; they couldn't believe it, the mighty Brazil beaten by Uruguay. Before the match, Brazilian officials had already made the gold medals with the Brazilian player's names on them, and after the game, Brazil changed the color of their kit to the gold and green because they deemed the previous kit to be haunted.

Uruguay also made history by being the first team to introduce African-Uruguayans to the World Cup. Many other countries who now rely on players with roots from Africa found this wrong, but Uruguay made history with the introduction of players of African descent.

So it's wonderful to see Uruguay, a nation with so much history in soccer, advance to the quarter-finals and play the winner of USA - Ghana.

June 26, 2010 - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - epa02223897 Uruguay's Luis Suarez scores the 1-0 lead for his team during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between Uruguay and South Korea at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 26 June 2010.
Uruguay - Korea Republic

Korea Republic started well, just five minutes in Park Chu-Young clipped the post with a curling free kick, but they conceded three minutes later. Luis Suarez nips in at the back post on Forlan's cross which goal-keeper Jung Sung-Ryong was unable to stop. Uruguay then began to play defensively as Korea Republic pressed to find the equalizer.

Eventually, Korea Republic found the equalizer after Muslera came out but didn't punch the ball away as Lee Chung-Yong headed it into the open net. Uruguay now didn't want to go to extra time against a fit and fast Korean team, and so ten minutes from the 90th Luis Suarez creates a magnificent goal. Inside the box with two defenders on him, Suarez makes some space for himself and curls a beautiful shot which pings off of the far post and into the back of the net. An epic winner which allows Uruguay to move on to the quarter-finals.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spain defeat 10-man Chile 2-1 to go through

Probably my most anticipated game was Chile - Spain, two sides which love to attack, put high pressure on the ball, and score goals. Switzerland - Honduras wasn't as exciting for me, but it's okay...

The ball rolls past Chile's goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and Spain's Fernando Torres during a 2010 World Cup Group H match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 25, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Bravo rushing out only to be scored on by Villa
Chile - Spain

Things started well for Spain who were looking for a win, and they got their first goal thanks to a goal-keeping error by Bravo. Long ball for Torres who was being chased by a Chilean defender, Bravo rushes way out of the box and slide tackles Torres, but the clearance was bad and David Villa hits it first time with his left foot into the empty net. Spain get their second after winning the ball in Chile's half, neat and tidy build up play ends up with Villa cutting the ball to Iniesta who from the top of the box passes it into the bottom right corner.

But during the build up play, Fernando Torres was slightly clipped (could've been a dive, it's very hard to tell) by Estrada who received his second yellow card, and was sent off. Very unlucky for Chile who were keeping the European champions on their toes. In the second half Chile found a goal, substitute Millar with a deflected shot which looped around to Casillas's other side. The rest of the match was shut down by Spain who will move onto the round of 16 from the top of group H.

June 25, 2010 - Bloemfontein, SUEDAFRIKA - epa02222964 (L-R) Switzerland's Eren Derdiyok, Hakan Yakin and Xherdan Shaqiri sit on the pitch after the Group H's 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup preliminary round match between Switzerland and Honduras in the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 25 June 2010.
Swiss players in despair after their 0-0 with Honduras
Switzerland - Honduras

Switzerland dominated most of the game but they were unable to finish off opportunities they got, this resulted in a relatively boring game. It basically summed up their entire World Cup campaign, good in defense, but weak up front. The second half was much more attacking from both sides, but in the end both goal-keepers were unbeatable resulting in a game with little excitement.

Portugal advance with Brazil after 0-0 draw

A dull game, it was to be expected because Portugal were practically through along with Brazil. Ivory Coast on the other hand played to have fun, the chains off and the Ivory Coast really showed their attacking prowess.

June 25, 2010 - Durban, South Africa - epa02222123 Brazil's Nilmar (L) attempts to score against goalkeeper Eduardo of Portugal during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group G preliminary round match between Portugal and Brazil at the Durban stadium in Durban, South Africa, 25 June 2010.
Nilmar's shot saved and onto the crossbar
Portugal - Brazil

It was a tight first half, Nilmar had a good chance after breaking through on the left, redirecting a shot on goal only to see Eduardo tip it just enough so that it bounced off the upright. It was one of the few opportunities in a half littered with fouls, dives, and yellow cards. Then in the 39th Maicon's cross to unmarked Luis Fabiano at the back post who somehow missed the header.

The second half was also forgettable, the biggest chance came thanks to Lucio clearing the ball across his own box for Mereiles to jump onto and have his shot saved by a brave Julio Cesar. Brazil also had a chance with Ramires having shot deflected which slightly troubled Eduardo, but the Portuguese kept the score at 0-0. Dull match, hope to see better from both teams throughout the tournament.

June 25, 2010 - South Africa - Football - North Korea v Ivory Coast FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group G - Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit, South Africa - 25/6/10..Yaya Toure (L) scores Ivory Coast's first goal.
Yaya Toure's shot which ends up in the back of the net
Korea DPR - Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast finally dominated a game, their first match against Portugal they were cagey and afraid, and in the second against Brazil was just impossible. The Ivory Coast showed why many consider them the best African nation in this tournament, plenty of possession and shots on target as they crushed DPR Korea 3-0.

The first half started well, Drogba getting a goal disallowed for offside, and after that they found the opener with Yaya Toure in the 14th. A pinpoint cutback from Boka on the left which Yaya Toure passed into the bottom left corner. Six minutes later Drogba thundered a shot onto the crossbar from point-blank range to then have Romaric follow up with a header giving the Ivory Coast goal number two.

The third goal came late into the second half, Kalou was brought on as a substitute in the 64th, and then in the 82nd the Chelsea winger got the final goal. A cross which Kalou anticipated perfectly to tuck away, then the Ivory Coast had another disallowed goal from Dindane who finished off a cross which was just tipped by a teammate when he was in an offside position. A good score-line for a team people certainly would've wanted to see more of.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Japan defeat Denmark 3-1 to go through with the Netherlands

Both Japan and the Netherlands go through out of group E, while the Netherlands won all their games comfortably, Japan also beat Denmark with ease to advance.

Here's how Group E stands:

Netherlands   (9)
Japan             (6)
Denmark       (3)
Cameroon     (0)

Japan's Keisuke Honda (R) scores a goal against Denmark during the 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 24, 2010.      REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Kaisuke Honda taking the blazing free kick
Denmark - Japan

A game which Denmark needed to win, and Japan needed to draw, in the end Denmark were just overpowered by Japan's fitness and speed. Right from the beginning Japan were dangerous with plenty of goal-scoring chances which weren't tucked away, but they eventually found the breakthrough in the 17th minute. Kaisuke Honda whacks a swerving free kick from way out of the penalty box which fools Sorensen for Japan's first goal of the match. Things got worse in the 30th minute when Endo swung in the perfect free kick from a closer range to put Japan two up.

Finally Denmark began to click in the second half, they didn't click very well, but they began to play better than before. In the 81st they were given a penalty because of a push on Daniel Agger in the box, Tomasson had it saved and luckily tucked away the rebound. But Denmark were without spirit or fight, both Bendtner and Tomasson were limping around not doing much, and when Japan scored their third, it was truly over. Honda with some neat footwork was 1 on 1 with Sorensen, then the CSKA Moscow player squared it to Okazaki who followed through to make the final score-line 3-1.

Netherlands' Robin van Persie scores a goal during a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match against Cameroon at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Robin van Persie with the finish for the first goal
Cameroon - Netherlands

With Cameroon mathematically out, and the Netherlands mathematically in, this game wasn't the most exciting. The Dutch grabbed a goal early on with Van Persie playing a neat one-two with Van der Vaart to then finish through Hamidou's legs. The Netherlands created other opportunities but didn't put any away until later on. Cameroon also were relatively stifled until the 65th when they found the equalizer.

Van der Vaart's hand was hit in the area from a Cameroon free kick causing a penalty against the Netherlands, Eto'o stepped up to take it and smashed it into the back of the net giving Stekelenburg no chance. Then it was substitute Robben who created the winner, a wicked shot hitting the post which had the rebound tapped in from Huntelaar. Netherlands get 9 points out of 9 while Cameroon don't pick up a positive result this tournament.

Italy eliminated as Paraguay and Slovakia go through

The World Cup champions were eliminated, a strong showing from Slovakia and bad play from the Italians ended up with them finishing bottom of the group. In the other match, New Zealand were able to hold Paraguay to a draw, giving them the third spot of the group after three draws.

Here's how group F stands:

Paraguay            (5)
Slovakia             (4)
New Zealand     (3)
Italy                   (2)

Italy's Fabio Cannavaro (L) comforts team mate Fabio Quagliarella at the end of their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against Slovakia at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Quagliarella crying with Cannavaro
consoling him
Slovakia - Italy

Robert Vittek gave Slovakia an early lead after some a bad pass by Daniele De Rossi, the Slovakian finished cooly in front of Marchetti. Vittek's second goal came in the second half after a good cross from Marek Hamsik which Vittek just tucked away. Moments after the goal Quagliarella came very close to a goal but Martin Skrtel managed to clear the Napoli striker's volley on the goal line.
The Azzurri managed to pick themselves up when Antonio Di Natale pulled one back for them from a rebound off of Quagliarella's shot after the Napoli striker was 1 on 1. At 2-1, they knew they only needed a second goal since Paraguay and New Zealand were locked at 0-0. Italy thought they made it when Quagliarella shoved the ball in the clear goal but his goal was disallowed for offside. Moments later they received a decisive punch: Kamil Kopunek lifted the ball over goalkeeper Marchetti into the gaping goal to make it 3-1. Quagliarella did manage to reduce the deficit for Italy with a beautiful chip from outside the box, but it wasn't enough for Italy. 

POLOKWANE, June 24, 2010 Paraguay's Claudio Morel (L) vies for the ball during the 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against New Zealand at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, June 24, 2010. The match tied 0-0 and Paraguay progressed to the next round.Paraguay - New Zealand

Clear-cut chances were few and far between throughout the game, and Paraguay captain Denis Caniza's long-range efforts in the opening half-hour were as close as anyone could seem to get early on in the match. New Zealand, who could have advanced with a victory, never got a good look at target and didn't manage a shot on goal against Justo Villar in the entire game.
Paraguay's best chance came in the 62nd minute when Cristian Riveros had a header from close-range turned away by New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston, who did well in the second half to keep Paraguay off the score sheet. He also had to be alert in the 76th minute as substitute Edgar Benítez had a shot saved, and Paston did well to touch away the rebound before Lucas Barrios could get on the end of it. It ended 0-0 with Paraguay going through to the next stages.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Germany and Ghana go through past Serbia and Australia

Finally an African nation goes through! Very glad about Ghana getting out of the group stages considering the Bafana Bafana couldn't. I'll certainly be looking forward to USA - Ghana and England - Germany...

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 AUSTRALIA VS SERBIA Action photo of Brett Holman Australia celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Mbombela Stadium of Nelspruit, South Africa./Foto de accion de Brett Holman de Australia, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Mbombela de Nelspruit, Sudafrica. 23 June 2010 MEXSPORT Photo via Newscom
Holman celebrating his goal for Australia
Australia - Serbia
Australia and Serbia were both eliminated from the World Cup despite the Socceroos going out with a 2-1 victory over Serbia, but Serbia started well with an early drive by Milos Krasic which signaled their intentions to get out of the group. Krasic had another chance in the 12th minute as he was 1 on 1 with Australia goal-keeper Mark Schwarzer, but the shot flew wide as Schwarzer came off of his line. The Serbians were the best side in the first half but missed plenty of chances Nikola Zigic heading wide with nowhere near him inside the penalty area.
In the second half, it was Australia that came out to win it as in the 69th minute, the Aussies broke through with Luke Wilkshire's long right-wing cross finding the head of Tim Cahill for the pinpoint finish inside the post. Four minutes later, Australia had hope of advancing when Brett Holman's long-range drive beat Vladimir Stojkovic to the right-hand post for a 2-0 lead. But Australia's hopes faded as Marko Pantelic pounced on a rebound after Schwarzer spilled a shot by Tosic in the six-yard box to make the final score 2-1 for Australia.

Germany's (L to R) Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger acknowledge the crowd after their 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match against Ghana at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 23, 2010. Germany and Ghana advanced to the second round of the World Cup finals on Wednesday as Australia and Serbia made their exits.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Ozil celebrating his wonderstrike
Ghana - Germany

Germany are up for an epic clash against England after they secured the top position in their group. Die Mannschaft beat Ghana 1-0 which was also enough for the Africans, who saw how Australia beat their main competitors Serbia 2-1. The Black Stars will now face the USA in the next round. Germany started well as they knew they had to win to avoid elimination. They should've taken the lead when Mesut Özil escaped the offside trap and came 1 on 1 with Ghana goalie Richard Kingson. His shot was right at the goal-keeper and was blocked by the African goalie leaving the Germans in despair.
At the other end, Asamoah Gyan came close to scoring when he headed the ball past Manuel Neuer only to see Philipp Lahm clear the ball off the line. An even contest developed and this continued in the second half. Only difference came on the hour mark when Özil placed a beautiful shot in the left hand corner out of Kingson's reach to give Germany the lead.
The match came to an uninspiring end but Germany will now prepare for a match that's very inspiring. Joachim Löw's men will face England on Sunday.

USA and England both go through with 1-0 wins

Epic, truly epic,  with tears in my eyes I write these reports having just seen Landon Donovan score USA's last gasp goal. 
Here's how group C stands after the two results:

USA           (5)
England     (5)
Slovenia     (4)
Algeria      (1)

USA - Algeria
United States' Landon Donovan scores a goal during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match against Algeria at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 23, 2010.  REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Donovan's epic tap-in

What can I say, the USA have done it again, an epic comeback after having a goal (wrongly) disallowed. It was USA all the way as they piled on the pressure against Algeria, constantly making chances which somehow didn't end up in the back of the net. And then, when the goal was disallowed, I thought conspiracy, but if there's a team which can fight past anything, it's the US of A! After the 90 minutes the USA have hit posts and the goalie too many times, it's injury time and the USA are still pushing for the winner. Donovan follows up on a goal-mouth scramble and scores, an epic win to say the least.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium Port Elizabeth World Cup 2010 Match 37 23/06/10 Jermain Defoe (ENG) scores first goal Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Slovenia - England

Just like Capello said, this England team finally clicked, the shackles were off, and they played with freedom. They found the back of the net with Defoe in the 23rd, cross swung in, Defoe anticipates and taps the ball with his foot past the goal-keeper. England did not play a pretty game, while they started off well, it was a boring game, I wouldn't have watched it if it was between any two other teams. England almost created another goal after their first, but Handanovic did well, and Defoe also wasted a good opportunity. Rooney hit the post in the second half as his run of poor form continues and Slovenia almost got the equalizer. England were the better team no doubt and I'm glad they've gone through.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Argentina crack Greece and Korea Republic goes through

Again, two very different games from each other, while some might've expected Greece - Argentina to have lots of goals and Nigeria - Korea Republic to be tight, it was the opposite.

Here's how group B stands after the two results:

Argentina               (9)
Korea Republic     (4)
Greece                   (3)
Nigeria                  (1)

June 22, 2010 - Polokwane, LIMPOPO, South Africa - epa02216859 Argentine forward Lionel Messi in action during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group B preliminary round match between Greece and Argentina at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, 22 June 2010.
Messi the man of the match
Greece - Argentina

This game was going to be the ultimate clash, Greece going total defense, and Argentina going total attack, but to tell you the truth, practically nothing happened in the first half. I truly wish I could say more but there was no memorable event in the first half, Veron sprayed a couple of passes wide, Messi tried to dribble a couple of times, and Aguero had a shot on goal, but that's about it.

In the second half however we saw Samaras, Greece's lone striker get behind Argentina's shaky defense often, and in the 48th he was able to get an open goal but he blew the shot wide. A great opportunity that would've been an amazing upset had he scored one of the easiest of goals. Argentina continued with their incessant possession, Messi had a great chance from a long range free-kick which Tzorvas did well to parry, and just minutes later Bolatti lashed a point-blank volley from a corner which Tzorvas held very well.

Then in the 77th Argentina found the back of the net, a lucky bounce from a corner allows Demichelis to rifle the ball into the back of the net from close range for the lead. Then in the 86th we saw Messi smash a post after a great show of dribbling, and finally in the 89th we saw another great dribble and shoot by Messi which Tzorvas parried only to have substitute St. Martin Palermo follow-up for Argentina's second.

June 22, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Nigeria v South Korea FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group B - Durban Stadium, Durban, South Africa - 22/6/10..Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama fails to save South Korea's second goal scored by Chu Young Park (Not Pictured.
Park Chu-Young's free kick sneaking past Enyeama
Nigeria - Korea Republic

The scoring started right away in the 12th minute with Nigeria getting a cross in for Uche to anticipate his defender and shoot past Jung Sung-Ryong. Korea Republic answered soon after with the equalizer in the 38th, Lee Jung-Soo comes in at the back post from a free kick to nip in an equalizer.

In the second half Korea Republic took the lead with Park Chu-Young, a free kick which tricked Enyeama into taking a fatal step the wrong way as he couldn't reach the ball. Then in the 66th minute I saw the worst miss I've ever seen, whether it be Youtube or real life, this miss was unfathomable, be sure to see it somewhere because you will be amazed. Ayila squares the ball across to Yakubu, goal-keeper misses it, so do all the defenders, and Yakubu right in the middle of the six-yard box with an open net and the perfect pass somehow taps it wide.

Then in the 68th Nigeria get a penalty thanks to Kim Nam-Il who sliced down Obasi, Yakubu steps up to take the penalty and thankfully makes up for his missed chance earlier and slots it into the back of the net. Then in the 80th with the score tied 2-2 Martins is 1 on 1 and decides to be cheeky and try and chip the keeper, but it goes wide and Nigeria is eliminated and South Korea goes through.

Uruguay wins 1-0, Mexico still go through and France lose 2-1

The train-wreck that is the French team has finally halted, coming last in the group, France is just about a complete disgrace.

Here's how group A stands after the final day of results:

Uruguay           (7)
Mexico             (4)
South Africa    (4)
France              (1)

Uruguay and Mexico are the teams that go through, with Mexico squeezing by thanks to their goal difference. This makes South Africa the first host nation not to get through the group stages.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez (L) scores past Mexico's goalkeeper Oscar Perez during a 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Luis Suarez's header entering the net for the winning goal

Mexico - Uruguay

In this match both sides could've done with a draw and they would've gotten through the group stages, but they both went for the win. An exciting match which should've been 1-0 to Uruguay in the 6th minute, when Suarez anticipated a defender but curled his shot past Perez just wide. Then in the 22nd Mexico's Guardado almost had the goal of the tournament, a rifled shot from 35 yards out struck the underside of the crossbar only to bounce out into the penalty box.

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 MEXICO VS URUGUAY GOOL VITAL Action photo of Luis Suarez of Uruguay celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Royal Bafokeng stadium of Rustemburg, South Africa./Foto de accion de Luis Suarez de Uruguay celebrandpo un gol, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Royal Bafokeng de Rustemburgo, Sudafrica. 22 June 2010 MEXSPORT/DAVID LEAH Photo via Newscom
Suarez celebrating
Uruguay found their only goal before the half ended, Forlan with a ball out wide to Cavani who crosses for Suarez to neatly tuck away with a header. A clean and organized goal which put Mexico in a bit of trouble. In the second half, Diego Lugano had a fantastic header parried by an even better save from Perez who somehow got down low enough to push the header out as the defence then smothered the rebound shot by Pereira.

This is when Mexico began to push for the equalizer and they eventually created their best chance of the match, Barrera crossed the ball in for a completely unmarked Rodriguez who from inside the six yard box glanced the header wide. Uruguay were tough in defence and dangerous on the counter-attack, they held out until the final whistle to earn themselves the first spot in the group.

June 22, 2010 - Bloemfontein, South Africa - epa02216099 Bongani Khumalo (top L) of South Africa scores with a header the 1-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group A preliminary round match between France and South Africa at the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 22 June 2010.
Khumalo heading in the first goal for South Africa
France - South Africa

The French disaster ended up with Anelka being sent home and Evra not starting against South Africa, in Evra's place you saw Clichy at left-back. Things did not start well for France, 20 minutes in and from a corner Lloris goes up to catch the ball and instead flaps at it letting Khumalo head home South Africa's first goal of the match.

Just five minutes later things got worse with Gourcuff being sent off with a direct red for a high elbow as he was competing for a header, a really harsh decision in my opinion, but Gourcuff went in with force and a high elbow. Then in the 37th bad defending from the French let Mphela almost trip himself as he bundled the ball over the line for South Africa's second goal.

France's Yoann Gourcuff (8) fights for the ball with South Africa's MacBeth Sibaya during their 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein June 22, 2010. The play ended with Gourcuff being given the red card. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Gourcuff's high elbow which got him sent off
In the second half South Africa continued to make chances with Mphela, who when released 1 on 1 with Hugo Lloris curled the shot onto the woodwork, just barely missing the 3-0 score-line. France got a consolation goal in the 70th minute, Sagna threading a through ball for Ribery to then square to substitute Malouda for the final goal of the 2-1 score.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zizou, Radebe take different sides

Zizou, Radebe take different sides
Zinedine Zidane as he is interviewed
As 2010 FIFA World Cup™ hosts South Africa and former World Champions France prepare to square up in their ultimate Group A match, football legends Lucas Radebe and Zinedine Zidane have both thrown their weight behind their respective countries in what is likely to be fiercely contested game.

With both Uruguay and Mexico sitting on on top of the table with four points, South Africa and France have only managed to accumulate a point each. Mathematically, all sides in Group A are still within a chance of advancing to the knockout stages. But in order to do that, South Africa and France will have to fire from all angles and hope for a glut of goals at the Free State Stadium. There is romance in this fixture and some old scores to settle. One of the memorable moments between these two sides - their only World Cup meeeting - was back in 1998 where France emerged 3-0 victors in a fixture where both Radebe and Zidane featured prominently. But a lot has happened since then.

During an exclusive interview with FIFA, Zidane said he hopes the French team will peak in Bloemfontein. “There are no calculations to be made anymore. France will have to go forward and score many goals while hoping to have a profitable result in the other game," said the France 98 champion. "We all know what happened recently in the team and it does not matter to talk more about it. Even if it’s very tiny, there’s still a chance to go through. So France has to go for it. But we should never forget that South Africa is at home and have not done so well so far. They will give the best they can to make their fans happy. To give pride to the country.”

On the other hand, Radebe, who captained South Africa at two FIFA World Cups, in 1998 and at Korea/Japan in 2002, believes all is not lost. He has predicted an offensive game where both sides will be going for the jugular in an attempt to register maximum points. “It’s going to be a tough game, considering that both teams have not done so well, they are yet to collect maximum points.," he said. "This makes it a very tough encounter, they both have to get maximum points not only to go through but also to salvage the image of their countries."

Media reports have hinted at internal problems within the French team, but while Radebe said this might weaken the former European and World Champions, he has warned South Africa to write France off at their peril. “When [France] played Uruguay, they looked lively, but not strong. Against Mexico, they were not good enough, surely there might be some problems in their team. To be honest, we have seen a decline of this French team. But they are former World Champions, you don’t discard them. They will want to do well on this game, they are the former World Cup holders, they have a point to prove.”

France was held to a goaless draw by Uruguay in their first match at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. They, however, suffered a heavy blow when they were defeated 2-0 by an innovative Mexican side. Zidane said France will have to rise above their current situation in order to defeat what is likely to be a highly motivated South African side. “France has to show superiority. It’s as simple as it is," he said. "Players have to demonstrate on the pitch that they play in the biggest European clubs. We have talked about anything but football in the past days. And am sure the players will have that in mind when entering the pitch. They know that if they qualify, everything will be forgotten.”

Despite their tenacious performance in the opening game at Soccer City against Mexico, South Africa were a shadow of that team at Loftus where they went down 3-0 to an impressive Uruguay. It was a big blow to the host and their aspirations. “That was a painful game. We were not good enough and it hurts," said Radebe. "A lot will be said, but maybe I believe we could have been more offensive, we didn’t put them under any pressure, we didn’t force them to think hard. We had one striker while they packed their defence.

"I don’t want to point fingers because at the end of the day, everyone should shoulder responsibility for what happened, but I hope we won’t see the same performance against France. The boys must know that they are playing for the millions who have supported them throughout. They have nothing to lose, they need to go there ane give it their best."

Feel free to post your opinions and predictions on the upcoming World Cup 2010 third round matches.

My predictions for tomorrow's third round group matches:

France vs. South Africa 0-1
Uruguay vs. Mexico 2-0
Argentina vs. Greece 3-1
South Korea vs. Nigeria 1-1

Spain only win 2-0 against Honduras

A great game with a score-line which doesn't really show the dominance that Spain had this game, now for Spain to go through they have to beat Chile.

Here's how Group H stands after Spain's win:

Chile               (6)
Spain              (3)
Switzerland    (3)
Honduras       (0)

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 ESPANA VS HONDURAS Action photo of David Villa of Spain celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburgo, South Africa./Foto de accion de David Villa de Espana celebrando un gol, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Ellis Par de Johannesburgo, Sudafrica. 21 June 2010 MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom
David Villa celebrating his goal
Spain - Honduras

Spain needed a positive result against Honduras, while they looked a little shaky at the beginning, they eventually got into their groove in the 17th minute with David Villa. Villa receives the ball out wide, cuts in and takes on the full-back and another two defenders with great dribbling and eventually even though he's falling is able to curl the ball into the top corner.

Spain dominated but only found their second goal in the 51st minute, Villa from outside the box takes a shot which is deflected and ends up in the back of the net. Spain continued to dominate with huge chances for Sergio Ramos who constantly got up the field from his right-back position and Fernando Torres. Eventually Spain's pressure paid off with Jesus Navas having his feet swept from underneath him in the penalty area, a penalty for Spain and David Villa looks for the hat-trick. Villa sends the keeper the wrong way but shoots it just wide of the post.

Then late on in the 86th Villa has another chance to complete the hat-trick but takes a touch too much and has it swept away by a Honduran defender. At the end, Spain had 7 shots on target while Honduras had 0, a great match.

Portugal 7-0 to DPR Korea and Chile 1-0 to 10-man Switzerland

Two different wins, while they are both very important for Chile and Portugal, they were different types of wins, we saw Portugal eventually break the floodgates open to score 7, and Chile having to grind out a goal for a tight win.

Here's how Group G stands after Portugal's win:

Brazil             (6)
Portugal         (4)
Ivory Coast    (1)
DPR Korea   (0)

June 21, 2010 - Cape Town, South Africa - epa02214529 Picture combo shows Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo balancing the ball before scoring the 6-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group G preliminary round match between Portugal and North Korea at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, 21 June 2010.
Ronaldo's head juggling right before the goal
Portugal - DPR Korea 

In the first half we saw a tight game, with Portugal having difficulty to break down a tight DPR Korea defence, all this while DPR Korea attacked Portugal with organization and speed. It was a tight affair but eventually the first goal came, Tiago right outside the area with two defenders on him was able to slip a pass through to Raul Mereiles who coolly finished. This was the only goal of the half as Portugal still weren't as confident as they could've been as they went into the second.

After halftime the flood-gates opened for Portugal, first Simao finished through Ri Myong-Guk's legs from a through ball, then Hugo Almeida headed home the second from a wonderful counter-attack. After that Tiago with a low shot got one followed by Liedson and then Cristiano Ronaldo, who trying to round the keeper had the ball flicked up as he ran with it juggling on his head/neck to then realize where it was and pass the ball in the net. And finally the seventh came again from Tiago in the 89th minute, as Portugal finished off DPR Korea and prepare to face Brazil next round.

Chile's Esteban Paredes and Jean Beausejour (R) celebrate after scoring against Switzerland during the 2010 World Cup Group H match at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth June 21, 2010.        REUTERS/Michael Buholzer (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Paredes and Beausejour celebrate Chile's only goal
Chile - Switzerland

Chile started attacking right away, in the 10th minute we saw Benaglio parry two long range shots one after the other from Vidal and Carmona. After this shaky start for the Swiss, Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute with a direct red card. As he was shielding the ball, his elbows were flying up high near a Chileans face and eventually there was contact which the referee punished. So Switzerland finding themselves in a situation where they have to defend.

Chile continue to press as Sanchez did well to get a shot from right outside the six yard box which was central and saved from Benaglio. In the second half Chile pressed very high up the field and eventually caught the Swiss defence off guard, Sanchez 1 on 1 with Benaglio who does well to save from the rushing winger.

Finally Chile find the winner with a through ball to Paredes who gets past Benaglio and provides a great cross for Gonzalez who heads the ball into the net, there was a sniff of offside but the referee was probably right with the decision. Then late on Paredes misses a 1 on 1, and the Swiss also create a great opportunity but have the ball go just wide. So the final score 1-0 to Chile.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brazil shines as Kaka is sent off in 3-1 victory

A great match, star names, beautiful football, and that little bit of controversy which helps spark the World Cup fever around the world even more. While Portugal will be playing DPR Korea tomorrow, here's the Brazil vs Ivory Coast match report.

June 20, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02213239 Brazil's Luis Fabiano scores the 1-0 lead for his team against Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group G preliminary round match between Brazil and Ivory Coast at the Soccer City stadium outside Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 June 2010.
Brazil - Ivory Coast

This match started with the Ivory Coast pushing for the opening goal, Brazil looked clumsy at the beginning as the Ivory Coast tried to create something. But this didn't last long, in the 25th minute as Brazil were entering their stride, some great passing between Robinho, Kaka, and Luis Fabiano led to the Brazilian striker being played through one on one. From there, Luis Fabiano just blasts the ball into the top of the net over Ivory Coast keeper Barry's head for a wonderful opening goal.

Brazil kept possession throughout the game as they went on to score again with Luis Fabiano in the 50th minute, a true center-forward's goal except with a little bit of Brazilian flair added to it. Fabiano all alone with a high ball played to him, he controls, flicks it over one defender, two defender, and then a left foot volley which Barry couldn't handle.

Then just 12 minutes later Kaka running towards the penalty box cutting in from the left, a simple cut-back allows Elano to come in and tap in a third neat and tidy goal. Wonderful playing from Kaka as he set up Elano, but just minutes later Elano goes into a slide tackle and has his shin stepped on, he's taken off for Dani Alves as he limped towards the treatment room.

Brazil's Elano (C) is assisted after an injury during a 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match against Ivory Coast at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)But the Ivory Coast weren't done, substitute Gervinho with a blistering run all along against two Brazilian defenders eventually finds himself in a corner of Brazil's side, he passes it to Yaya Toure who then chips it for an oncoming Drogba who just has to nod his head for the consolation goal.

But the match wasn't over, Kaka got his first yellow in the 85th minute for pushing and putting his hands on Keita, and then in the 88th Kaka sticks out his elbow just enough to give Keita the chance to dive. The African player is on the floor with almost both teams surrounding him as everyone is arguing and fighting as they push and lay hands on each other. Kaka in the meantime got as far away as he could from the situation, but referee Lannoy made sure that Kaka received his second yellow card as he sent the Brazilian off.

A great match full of controversy, be sure to share your thoughts below about it!


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