June 18, 2010
Serbia 1 – Germany 0…After their first match, Germany was on top of the world becoming the first team in this year’s World Cup to ring up FOUR goals (against Australia). Things came crashing down after the 1-0 loss to Serbia. Germany lost its momentum when Miroslav Klose — the leading scorer at the 2006 World Cup — picked up his second yellow card. Milan Jovaonic of Serbia made the most of it, scoring one minute after Klose got ejected. To make matters worse for Germany, Serbia’s goalkeeper stopped Lukas Podolski’s penalty kick in the 60th minute. It was Germany’s first missed penalty in regular World Cup play since 1974. It was a very physical game. Spanish referee Alberto Undiano handed out a tournament-high nine yellow cards. The nine cards on 29 fouls (31 percent) was the third-highest percentage of cautions ever handed out in World Cup history.
United States 2 – Slovenia 2…The USA came away from this draw bittersweet. Actually the USA was completely robbed, and every soccer fan in the world can agree on this. After tying the match 2-2, Maurcice Edu of the USA powered the ball into the net from a beautiful free kick by Landon Donovan at the 86′ mark. The entire USA team erupted as victory was theirs. But within 10 seconds, referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali had called it off. Over and over, American players asked, “Why?” in English and in French.”He just ignored us,” Landon Donovan said. “Or he didn’t understand.”
In what was a pretty even game in time of possession, shots on goal and fouls, Slovenia went up 2-0 on the USA at halftime. The USA did not come out like this match was a serious opportunity to capture its group. Just six minutes into the 2nd half, Landon Donovan went baseline and blasted the ball into the net at a very tricky angle that left no room for error. At the 82′ Michael Bradley, the coach’s son, took a deflection, charged forward and put it into the goal. It is a real shame as the USA would have chalked up its greatest comeback in team history, as well as the second come from behind victory in this year’s World Cup. Either way, the USA is still alive after gaining the draw. They have a very good chance to move on with a victory or draw against their next opponent: Algeria.
England 0 – Algeria 0…England continues to disappoint in the World Cup even with a draw and a point against Algeria. Even with five shots on goal to Algeria’s one, England could not put the ball into the net. English superstar Wayne Rooney has now been held scoreless for his seventh straight match. Algeria has yet to score in the Cup and will more than likely be out soon. England, on the other hand, needs some help. They really need to win their final group game versus Slovenia. It would also greatly help the English that the USA lose, or at best draw, against Algeria.
June 19, 2010
Netherlands 1 – Japan 0…The Netherlands has not been flashy, but they are undefeated (2-0) and have picked up six points which pretty much guarantees their moving into the next round. Wesley Sneijder blasted a from-outside-the-box at the 53′ mark to score the only goal of the match. The Dutch have lost only once (7-1-6) in their past 14 group-stage games. They controlled the ball for the entire match at 66% to 34% advantage.
Ghana 1 – Australia 1…The scoring in this match came early when the “Socceroos” Brett Holman scored from a free kick that the Ghana goalkeeper bobbled at the 11′ mark. At the 24′ mark, Ghana scored off a penalty kick due to Harry Kewell’s red card for a blocked shot from Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah at the goal line with his upper arm. Ghana had 66 minutes to put another goal on the board as Australia played a man down. They put the pressure on with a whopping TWENTY-FIVE shots in the match. Australia held on, managed a draw, and both teams know that their final game in the group is of monumental importance.
Denmark 2 – Cameroon 1…Denmark officially eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup with a come-from-behind victory. Cameroon jumped out quickly, when an errant Danish pass (right in front of the their own goal) was stoled by the opponents and passed to Samuel Eto’o. Eto’o had a very easy about shot from about ten feet square in front of the goal. Nicklas Bendtner tied it in the 33rd minute for Denmark after receiving a feed from Dennis Rommedahl following a superb long pass by Simon Kjaer. Rommedahl put Denmark ahead when he put a sweet left footed shot on net at the 61′ mark. Africa has had a very disappointing showing at this Cup and Cameroon was only part of the reason. Denmark, who has very little Cup history, has a very good chance to advance. We shall see.
June 20, 2010
Paraguay 2 – Slovakia 0…Paraguay continues to impress as it rang up a victory over Slovakia. With Paraguay’s win, South American teams improved to 6-0-2 at this World Cup. The victory puts Paraguay ahead of their Group with four points after two matches. Enrique Vera broke through in the 27th minute when forward Lucas Barrios slipped a pass into the box and Vera angled it past Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha with a one-time shot. Cristian Riveros added a goal in the 86th minute, a left-footed blast from the edge of the penalty area. Slovakia did not put a single shot on target until the 92nd minute. In the first half, Paraguay had more total shots (8) and shots on target (4) than Slovakia had the entire match, finishing the game with a 45 percent shooting accuracy compared to Slovakia’s 17 percent.
Italy 1 – New Zealand 1..Defending champion Italy had to rally to get a draw in the latest World Cup stunner. With two consecutive ties, the 78th-ranked “All Whites” are in position to advance to the second round if they can beat Paraguay on Thursday. While playing in only its second World Cup and having lost all three of its matches in 1982 — New Zealand gained a point for the second consecutive game after also drawing 1-1 with Slovakia in its opener. The Italians will also would move on from Group F if they beat Slovakia. Even with an overwhelming 23-3 shots in the match, Italy could not secure the victory versus the Kiwis. No New Zealand player touched the ball more often than goalkeeper Mark Paston. He had 56 touches, six more than defender Winston Reid’s 50. The Italians, by contrast, had seven players touch the ball 50 or more times.
Brazil 3 – Ivory Coast 1…With over 84,000 fans in attendance, the number one FIFA ranked team in the world, Brazil, showed that even with a mediocre performance, they are the team to beat in the World Cup. Luis Fabiano scored two goals to put Brazil up 2-0 at the half. The first goal was a rooftop blast at the 25′ mark. The second Fabiano goal should never have counted. Fabiano made a valiant effort in dribbling and controlling the ball through three defenders before launching his shot on goal. The problem was that he hand-balled TWICE in doing so, using his upper arm and shoulder to help control. He was never cited and the goal counted. At the 62′ mark Elano took the one time pass and placed it nicely into the right side of the goal to put Brazil up 3-0. Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba scored the first-ever goal by an African nation against Brazil to avoid the shutout. Questions remain about whether his impact could have been much larger. He touched the ball only 17 times in the game, with only five of those touches coming after halftime. This past season for Chelsea, Drogba touched the ball at least 30 times in each match he played 90 minutes.
The game got quite dirty in the late stages. Brazilian superstar Kaka received two yellow cards late in the game and will be suspended for Brazil’s next match against Portugal. Kaka got into an altercation with Kader Keita near the end of the match. Many feel Keita oversold the incident, and that Kaka had no business being tossed. On the other hand, the Ivorians responded by engaging in a series of dreadful challenges. One of them, by Ismael Tiote, even forced Elano to be carried off on a stretcher with a lower leg injury.