Please tell me that did not go off my back into the net!!!

June 14th, 2010

Netherlands 2 – Denmark 0…The first game of the day started out with a bit of luck for the Netherlands when at the 46′ mark, Denmark defender Simon Poulsen headed a ball off the back of teammate Daniel Agger and into the net. Poulsen had been trying to clear a cross shot. Netherlands added another goal at the 85′ mark. This was a pretty lopsided game as Netherlands practically doubled Denmark in shots, shots on goal and time of possession. Some feel that Netherlands has as good a chance as anyone to win this Cup. The sad news for Denmark was that they were held scoreless for just the second time in 14 World Cup matches all time.

Japan 1 – Cameroon 0…Coming off four straight exhibition losses leading to their World Cup appearance, Japan earned their first World Cup victory on foreign soil Monday with a 1-0 victory over an uninspired Cameroon in Group E. Japan scored off a nice little flip kick into the goal at the 39′ mark. Cameroon won the battle in shots 9 to a meager 3 for Japan. Japan created only three scoring chances, the lowest number by a winning team at the World Cup since the stat was first tracked in 1966. The two teams combined for 49 fouls, the highest total so far.

Italy 1 – Paraguay 1…The final game of the day was played in the pouring rain and was easily the best match of the day on paper. Italy can only breathe a sigh of relief as they come away with the draw. They did not bring their “A-Game”. Paraguay jumped out shocking everyone with a 1-0 lead at the half. Antolin Alcaraz put a beautiful header into the net off of a very long pass. Italy scored the equalizer at the 63′ mark with a nice sliding kick by Daniele De Rossi off of the Italy corner kick. The play was totally set up by a serious miscue by Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar. It was not all good news for Italy. Already without injured midfielder Andrea Pirlo, Italy took another hit when it lost perhaps its most valuable player, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, after the first half. The 32-year-old Buffon was removed due to a back injury, replaced by an inexperienced backup.

June 15th, 2010

New Zealand 1 – Slovakia 1In a match that saw only two shots on goal for each team, New Zealand managed to tie it up in injury time at the 3′ mark of stoppage time after playing the full 90 minutes. Slovakia’s goal came at the 50′ mark when Stanislav Sestak crossed from the right side. Reid missed his defensive header, allowing Robert Vittek to scored from close range at the far post. The draw was a victory for both teams as the Kiwis are ranked 78th in the world, 44 spots above Slovakia, which is in its first World Cup as an independent nation. The most interesting stat was established once the game had ended. For the first time in World Cup history, the first 20 goals of the tournament have been scored by 20 players.

Portugal 0 – Ivory Coast 0…For all the hype that has surrounded this Cup’s Portugal team, and its star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal deeply disappointed World Cup fans as they put up a 0-0 draw, and were actually outplayed by the Ivory Coast. They had more shots, shots on goal, and corner kicks than Portugal as well. Ronaldo blasted a super shot from 30 yards out at the 10′ mark but it went off the left post. Ivory Coast superstar Didier Drogba came on as a 66th-minute substitute for fellow Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou after FIFA cleared him to play with a cast on his right arm, which he broke in a warmup match against Japan on June 4. He was ruled eligible only shortly before kickoff at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Portugal created only four scoring chances, which tied for third-fewest by a Portuguese team ever at the World Cup. These two teams need to get on track if they plan to make any noise in this Cup.

Brazil rings up goal number two.

Brazil 2 – North Korea 1…The final match of the day featured 5-time World Cup Champions, Brazil taking on North Korea, who was making their Cup return after a 44 year hiatus. North Korea played their defensive hearts out posting a 0-0 draw at the half. Brazil scored 10 minutes into the second half (55′ mark) with a beautiful goal from the far right side into a VERY tight angle. Elano then added to the Brazil lead in the 72′ after a well-timed pass from Robinho, finding the net with a one-timer from inside the penalty area. Ji Yun Nam scored for North Korea in the 89th minute in 34-degree temperatures with a wind-chill of 24. Brazil completely dominated with 26 shots, 10 shots on goal and a 73% time of possession. Expect big things from Brazil in the Cup. But you already knew that.