Latest Results from the World Cup
Argentina cruise into quarter-finals
Carlos Tevez (pictured) scored two goals for Diego Maradonna’s Argentina as the South Americans defeated Mexico 3-1 in their World Cup second round match at Soccer City yesterday. Argentina’s win set up a rematch of their 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals with Germany who outclassed England earlier in the day.
However, although Argentina arguably deserved their victory, the match was not without controversy. Tevez’s 26th minute opener should not have counted as television replays showed he was well offside.
The Mexican players protested vehemently and their coach Javier Aguirre appeared to point to the giant screen as his team berated Italian referee Roberto Rosetti who decided to consult his assistant linesman. Apparently satisfied that the goal was legitimate, Rosetti stuck by his decision, although it was clearly incorrect.
Things went from bad to worse for the Central Americans when Ricardo Osorio committed a horrendous defensive blunder to gift Gonzalo Higuain the easiest of goals on 33 minutes. It was Higuain’s fourth goal of the tournament and made him the tournament’s top scorer.
With Mexico suddenly 2-0 adrift they had it all to do to get back into the match, but Argentina weren’t taking any chances and played some solid football to maintain their advantage going into the interval. The South Americans went 3-0 up seven minutes into the second half when Tevez unleashed a screaming drive from 25-metres that gave the ‘keeper absolutely no chance.
Javier Hernandez got Mexico on the score sheet on 71 minutes after a deft turn and powerful left-footed strike inside the area, but although they tried hard to score further goals Mexico were unable to do so, leaving Argentina to run out comfortable winners.
Although they deserved their victory Argentina’s performance was far from perfect as they seemed to fall asleep after going 3-0 up. Whether this was a lack of concentration on their part or simply a case of complacency was unclear, but what is clear is they will have to play with greater intensity if they hope to hold the World Cup trophy aloft at Soccer City on July 11.
The might have been able to get away with taking their foot of the gas against 17th ranked Mexico and still come up with a win, but sixth ranked Germany are certain to provide a much stiffer test in Cape Town on Saturday. Kick-off at the Green Point Stadium is at 8.30pm.
German blitzkrieg sends England home
Two goals in the space of three minutes from Thomas Mueller (pictured) killed off any hopes of an England fight back at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein yesterday, and secured Germany a World Cup quarter-final berth in the process. Mueller’s 66th and 69th minute strikes knocked the stuffing out of Fabio Capello’s team in a pulsating encounter between two long-standing footballing rivals.
England tried their utmost to win the game and secure themselves a spot in the last eight after an unconvincing opening round which saw them draw with the United States and Algeria before narrowly defeating Slovenia 1-0 on Wednesday. However, they simply didn’t have an answer for the slick counter-attacking of the Germans who switched from defence to attack with breath-taking speed.
“We had some luck and took the lead. After we went 3-1 up, we improved and the match was soon over after that,” said Mueller. Striker Miroslav Klose, who netted his team’s first goal, remarked: “I was very impressed with the performance today. In this match we were on top of things from the start, we were totally into the match and we deserved to win.”
Although Germany undoubtedly deserved their 4-1 victory, England can feel agrieved at a controversial decision late in the opening half which denied them an equaliser while trailing 2-1. A fierce shot from midfielder Frank Lampard struck the crossbar and the ball bounced well behind the goal line, but instead of awarding England a goal, the referee waved play on.
“It was the most important part of the game,” said England coach Capello. “We made some mistakes and the referee made one big mistake but Germany played a good game. Little things decide the result of these matches always. We played well up to 2-1 but after the third goal we were disappointed,” he explained.
Germany started the match quickly and were 2-0 up after just 32 minutes. Klose, back from a one-match suspension, scored their first goal in the 20th minute when he caught the England defence napping and slotted his 12th goal in World Cup tournaments after chasing down a long goal kick from German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer.
Striker Lukas Podolski then got into the act by netting a second in the 32nd minute with a rasping low drive after a classy combination of passes between Mueller and Mesut Ozil. England were suddenly 2-0 down and under huge pressure to score and get back into the game.
Lampard almost pulled one back minutes later, firing at Neuer from close range only for Philipp Lahm to clear in front of goal. However, England’s urgency to get on the score sheet paid off when Matthew Upson headed in a Steven Gerrard cross to reduce the deficit in the 37th minute.
Then, just a minute later, came the moment that changed the match and effectively killed off England’s chances of victory. A powerful shot from Lampard bounced off the crossbar and seemed to go behind the goal line, but Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda inexplicably waved proceedings on. Instead of being level, England still found themselves a goal down – a bitter pill to swallow against one of the best teams in world football.
Nevertheless they came out fighting in the second half and Lampard, who must have been the unluckiest player on the field, rattled the bar again with a powerful free kick seven minutes after the interval. However, Mueller sealed the win for Germany with his brace to crown a memorable performance for the 20-year-old striker.
In the end the Germans were full value for their victory against their eighth ranked opponents who just couldn’t get going against their well-organised and disciplined rivals. Highly regarded England striker Wayne Rooney was hardly a factor in the match, capping a miserable tournament for the 24-year-old Manchester United goal machine.
Gyan’s late strike puts Ghana into last eight
A brilliant late left-foot strike from Asamoah Gyan (pictured left) earned Ghana a 2-1 victory over the United States on Saturday and propelled the West African nation into the World Cup quarter-finals. Gyan chased down a long ball from midfield, outstripped two defenders and rifled home a vicious shot that enabled Ghana to match the best previous performance by an African team at a World Cup.
Gyan’s goal came against the run of play with Ghana having been subjected to lengthy periods of American pressure after the two sides had gone into extra time deadlocked at 1-1. The Black Stars are now only the third African team to reach the last eight after Cameroon achieved the feat in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.
Ghana struck early, with Kevin-Prince Boateng finding the back of the net after just five minutes. German-born Boateng, who only qualified to play for the Black Stars on the eve of the tournament, dispossessed Ricardo Clark in midfield and ran on to blast the ball home from the edge of the area. It was the ideal start for Africa’s last representatives at this World Cup and put the United States under pressure early.
However, to their credit, the United States fought back grimly and despite getting the worst of the opening 45 minutes they were able to avoid conceding another goal. They began to edge their way back into the match in the second half and equalised when Landon Donovan, who had been the hero of their dramatic qualification for the last eight in midweek, scored from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute.
Ghana’s teenage defender Jonathan Mensah conceded the penalty when he brought down Clint Dempsey in the box and Donovan made no mistake with his spot kick to give his team a deserved equaliser. Jozy Altidore had a golden opportunity to put the United States in front after 80 minutes when he got the better of the Ghana defence, but unfortunately he pulled his shot wide.
With both teams forced to play the extra 30 minutes to determine a winner, it was left to the 24-year-old Gyan to seal the win for his country when he bagged his third goal of the tournament. Substitute Benny Feilhaber nearly forced the match to penalties when he had an opportunity to score after a goalmouth scramble, but his shot was blocked leaving the United States crestfallen and Ghana jubilant.
The Black Stars will now play Uruguay in a quarter-final clash at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Friday. Kick-off is at 8.30pm.
Two-goal Suarez sinks plucky South Korea
Luis Suarez (pictured) scored a brace to give Uruguay a 2-1 win over South Korea on Saturday and take them to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 40 years. A late goal from Suarez, who also netted in the eighth minute of a close contest that seemed destined to be headed for extra time, spoilt the Koreans’ dreams of reaching the last eight for the first time on foreign soil.
“Being young, this is the moment I have always dreamed of,” said the 23-year-old Suarez. “I can imagine what it will be like back in Uruguay. The truth is they deserve it, all the people who have always been behind us, not to mention our families,” he added.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez conceded it had been a tough game but they were delighted with the win. “There are only three million people in Uruguay and we waited a long time for this. I think the team put on a display of discipline, maturity and class, and luckily Suarez scored that amazing goal,” said Tabarez.
“I think Korea had a great match. Perhaps they weren’t lucky and we were, but that’s football. They surprised us with their approach and a different style of game. They tired us out,” he added.
Park Chu-young almost got his side off to the perfect start when his fifth minute curling free-kick from 20 metres struck the upright with Uruguay ‘keeper Fernando Muslera well beaten. However, just minutes later, the South Americans snatched the lead when Suarez took advantage of some poor Korean defending.
Edinson Cavani cleverly curled the ball out wide to Diego Forlan, whose low cross sliced through the sloppy Korean defence, was missed by ‘keeper Jung Sung-ryong and reached the unmarked Suarez, who stabbed the ball into an empty net.
Despite being a goal down after just eight minutes, the South Koreans came storming back and created a number of chances, especially after the interval with Kim Jae-sung, Park Chu-young and Park Ji-sung’s all bringing the best out of Muslera. However, the sustained pressure paid off when Lee Chung-yong headed home from close range on 68 minutes after Uruguay failed to clear a free-kick.
With the score at 1-1 and with 22 minutes of normal time still to play it was anyone’s game, but it was Uruguay who struck the killer blow on 80 minutes when Suarez collected a loose ball and blasted home a powerful, curling shot that went in off the post. Lee Dong-guk almost got an equaliser when he struck a low shot which went through Muslera’s legs, but the ball didn’t have enough energy to cross the line.
“We wanted to go to the quarter-finals and my players did there best but we didn’t get there,” said South Korean coach Huh Jung-moo. “We had lots of opportunities and I thought Uruguay was lucky to put in the goals. Our players never give up no matter what the situation. We were on a high, we were doing quite well,” he added.
Portugal 0 – Brazil 0
North Korea 0 – Ivory Coast 3
Chile 1 – Spain 2
Switzerland 0 – Honduras 0
Holland vs Slovakia – Durban – 4pm
Brazil vs Chile – Ellis Park – 8.30pm
Paraguay vs Japan – Pretoria Accommodation – 4pm
Spain vs Portugal – Cape Town – 8.30pm
Third test, day two, South Africa vs West Indies, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
West Indies 1st innings: 231 all out. (Deonarine 46, Bravo 61. Steyn 3/37, Botha 4/56).
South Africa 1st innings: 285/6. (Smith 70, De Villiers 73. Benn 4/59).
South Africa are 54 runs ahead with four first innings wickets remaining.
Second test, South Africa vs Italy, BRU stadium in East London.
South Africa 55 – Tries: Morné Steyn (2), Pierre Spies, Jannie du Plessis, BJ Botha, Bryan Habana, Flip van der Merwe. Conversions: Steyn (5), Ruan Pienaar (2). Penalties: Steyn (2).
Italy 11 – Try: Michele Sepe. Penalties: Mirco Bergamasco (2).