Sunday, June 20, 2010

Paraguay dominate Slovakia and Italy draw 1-1 with New Zealand

We have seen the world champions be stumped not once, but twice. First against Paraguay, and now against New Zealand, Italy are just unable to find a win. But Paraguay go on to take the lead in the group after defeating Slovakia 2-0.

Here's how Group F stands after these two results:

Paraguay            (4)
Italy                    (2)
New Zealand     (2)
Slovakia             (1)

New Zealand's Shane Smeltz scores a goal during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match against Italy at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit June 20, 2010.   REUTERS/David Gray (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)Italy - New Zealand

A match which the reigning World Cup champions really would've wanted to win, but instead, they put themselves in a bad position just 7 minutes in conceding from a free kick. A flick from a New Zealand head and Cannavaro's poor defending let Smeltz lightly tap it past Federico Marchetti, Italy's second goal-keeper.

After the goal, Italy began to wake up as they dominated possession, keeping the ball but creating few chances. Montolivo hit the inside of the post around the half hour mark with a long range bouncing effort, and just a minute later Italy get themselves a penalty.

It was Smith, tugging on De Rossi's shirt as the Italian was about to finish a cross which led to the penalty against New Zealand, a relatively harsh decision, but fair in retrospect as the Guatemalan referee was fair and uptight about the rules. Iaquinta stepped up to take the penalty and with the inside of his foot drove it into the net to give Italy an important equalizer.

Italy's Daniele De Rossi falls to the ground after a faul by New Zealand's Tommy Smith (19) during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit June 20, 2010. Smith was given the yellow card and a penalty kick was given to Italy for the foul. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
While Italy continued to dominate possession throughout the first and second half, they created few concrete chances, most of them attributed to long range strikes. Montolivo again tested the truly magnificent Paston in New Zealand's goal along with Camoranesi whose shot would've been the perfect top corner goal if it hadn't been saved.

The kiwis scared Italy late in the second half with substitute Wood who was able to get around Cannavaro and lash his shot just wide of the post, which could've been an epic winner for New Zealand.  But in the end, New Zealand held onto the draw as Italy were unable to find the winner, which leaves the world champions in a precarious position in their upcoming game against Slovakia.

June 20, 2010 - Bloemfontein, South Africa - epa02212580 Paraguay's Enrique Vera (L) scores the 1-0 lead for his team against Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha (R) and Jan Durica (C) during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group F preliminary round match between Slovakia and Paraguay at the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 20 June 2010.
Slovakia - Paraguay

A 2-0 win for Paraguay which takes them almost to the round of 16, instead a Slovakia side which will be very disappointed with their performance as they were only able to register one shot on goal. Paraguay found the goal in the 27th minute with Lucas Barrios providing a through ball for Enrique Vera to finish with a curling shot with the outside right boot.

Paraguay went on to truly dominate but they found the second goal only four minutes from the end of the 90 minutes, bad defending from Slovakia allowed Riveros to strike true with his left foot. A straight and direct shot which gave Paraguay a definitive win. Slovakia were able to get their first shot on target in stoppage time, Vittek rifled a great shot which Villar dealt with well as he kept the clean sheet for Paraguay's win.

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