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Posted on: Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Maicon saves the day for Brazil and other World Cup News

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Maicon

Maicon

Maicon saves the day for Brazil
Brazil fullback Maicon (pictured) scored a superb goal from a seemingly impossible angle to guide the World Cup favourites to a 2-1 win over a gritty North Korea in their Group G encounter at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.

Maicon somehow managed to fire a shot into the net from the most acute of angles in the 55th minute, before Elano added a second goal 17 minutes later to put the South American giants in command. Ji Yun-nam pulled one back for North Korea on 89 minutes, speeding past two players and smashing home a left-foot drive, but it was a case of too little, too late as the ‘Golden Squad’ held on for the win.

“They played very defensively and in this kind of game you have to have patience and when you don’t get a goal, it gets difficult,” Brazil forward Robinho told Brazilian TV. “We won deservedly … now we can lift our heads and look to qualify in the next game,” he added.

However, until Maicon’s strike, North Korea, making their first World Cup appearance in 44 years, had looked capable of producing a result to equal their famous 1-0 win over Italy in 1966. The number one ranked South Americans had looked clueless as to how to breach their opponent’s defences, while the Asians had periodically looked threatening on attack.

Brazil made a bright start when Robinho produced a sniping run in the first minute to set up Kaka, but the Real Madrid player was too slow on the trigger allowing An Yong-hak to dispossess him. Robinho then fired a shot over the crossbar after working another opening with Kaka, but the South Americans suddenly ran out of ideas as North Korea applied the pressure.

Jong Tae-se had the first shot on target for the Asians, although it was easily saved by Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Mun In-guk then tried to test Cesar with an audacious shot from near the halfway line as the 105th ranked minnows grew in confidence with each passing minute.

Brazil had entrusted Kaka with the responsibility of creating chances, but he was having a poor game with his passes going completely astray. Instead, the South Americans had to rely on isolated openings, one when Robinho tested North Korea ‘keeper Ri Myong-guk with a shot on the turn and another with an outswinging Maicon shot, which Myong-guk parried away.

The five-time World Cup champions committed more men forward after the interval and had an excellent chance to score when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. However, Michel Bastos sqaundered the opportunity by firing his shot wide.

Brazil’s breakthrough came when Elano fed a pass to Maicon on the outside, who managed to pick the gap between the ‘keeper and the near post from almost on the byline. It was a brilliant goal, probably the best of the tournament thus far, and when Elano ran onto Robinho’s slide pass to slot his shot into the far corner, the writing was on the wall for the courageous Asian outfit.

Although Brazil deserved to win in the end, they were made to fight hard for their victory by the North Koreans who belied their lowly status as the lowest ranked team in the competition. It was hardly a convincing performance from the ‘Golden Squad’ who are widely considered the favourites to lift the trophy at the end of the month long global showpiece on July 11.

Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba

Subdued start for Portugal
Portugal made a somewhat disappointing start to their 2010 World Cup campaign when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Ivory Coast at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. The 27th ranked Ivorians gave the third ranked Portuguese all they could handle in a game that marked the return of Chelsea centre forward Didier Drogba (pictured) into the Ivory Coast line-up.

Drogba, who had surgery on a broken right arm just ten days before the match, joined the fray as a second half substitute but was unable to make a significant impact in the Group G clash. Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo had an excellent chance to open the scoring just 10 minutes into the match, but  the Real Madrid winger’s 25m shot only succeeded in rattling Ivorian ’keeper Boubacar Barry’s left post.

Then it was the turn of ‘The Elephants’ to threaten their opponent’s goalmouth when Siaka Tiene and Ismael Tiote narrowly missed with strikes. Matters soon got heated when referee Jorge Larrionda issued defender Guy Demel with a yellow card for a foul on Ronaldo who in turn was cautioned for his aggressive reaction.

Ivorian striker Salomon Kalou had Portugal ‘keeper Eduardo working hard to save his powerful shot in the 50th minute as ‘The Navigators’ manager Carlos Queiroz made his first change, replacing Danny with Atletico Madrid forward Simao. Eduardo’s opposite number Barry then had to be at full stretch to collect Liedson’s header after some clever work down the left from Deco.

Ivory Coast manager Sven Goran Eriksson decided to hurl Drogba into the fray in the 66th minute and the move produced arguably the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the rain soaked crowd. However, the African superstar was unable to come up with a goal to break the stalemate in a match that failed to reach any great heights.

In fact, it was Ronaldo who found the back of the net with a well-taken shot shortly after Drogba’s introduction, but to his dismay referee Larrionda had already blown the whistle for a foul by Liedson. Ronaldo again threatened the Ivory Coast goalmouth when his 35m freekick edged over Barry’s crossbar in the 80th minute.

With time running out, the Ivorians pressed hard for a victory and Drogba found himself with an opportunity to score from close range only to miscue his shot. Both sides earned a point for their efforts and left Ghana as the only one of the six participating African teams to have won their opening first round match.

Winston Reid

Winston Reid

New Zealand make history
New Zealand defender Winston Reid (pictured in white) headed an equaliser in the closing seconds to earn a 1-1 draw with Slovakia and secure the ‘All Whites’ their first ever World Cup point in their Group F opener at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Tuesday. Fullback Reid beat Slovakia ‘keeper Jan Mucha with a header that went in off the foot of the post to bring his team level after Robert Vittek had put the Eastern Europeans in front five minutes after the interval.

“I think the nation will be in reasonably good spirits tonight,” said modest New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert. “We keep on dreaming. We have a chance like everyone else.” Asked if it was their best ever achievement he added: “It would have to be. We have never picked up a point at a World Cup. We have thrown some really good punches tonight and got what I thought was an extremely good result.”

Until New Zealand’s late strike, Slovakia, making their World Cup debut as an independent nation, had looked set to top the group ahead of world champions Italy and Paraguay who battled to a 1-1 draw in the group opener on Monday.

Vittek scored with a powerful header from 10m out after Stanislav Sestak had floated in a perfect cross. The goal was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull encounter where New Zealand, using a 3-4-3 formation, largely frustrated the cautious Slovaks who appeared revitalised after a pep talk at the interval.

The Eastern Europeans were more aggressive at the beginning of the second half, playing at a higher tempo than they did in the opening 45 minutes and with a great deal more confidence. Consequently, New Zealander were given few chances to regain a foothold in the game, and weren’t helped by their inferior technique and lack of possession.

Slovakia had enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession in an opening half strewn with errors as the unpleasant conditions made things difficult for both teams. Neither side managed to create many chances and when they did, poor execution let them down.

Chris Killen and Shane Smeltz shot wide for the ‘All Whites’, while Sestak and Vittek did the same at the other end where New Zealand ‘keeper Mark Paston looked a tad shaky. A square free kick to Slovakia skipper Marek Hamsik, after a foul by Tony Lochhead on Erik Jendrisek, saw the playmaker unleash a 23m shot that Paston saved just before the interval.

It was one of few bright moments in a close game in which Slovakia struggled for a breakthrough until Vittek’s goal. However, just when it seemed the Eastern Europeans had secured the three points, Reid scored the equaliser and it was the New Zealand players who were celebrating after the final whistle.

Other results (African teams in bold)
Monday
Netherlands 2 – Denmark 0
Japan 1 – Cameroon 0
Italy 1 – Paraguay 1

Current standings (under headings: played, won, drawn, lost, points)

Group A
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Mexico                  1        0        1        0        1
South Africa 1        0        1        0        1
France                   1        0        1        0        1
Uruguay                1        0        1        0        1

Group B
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
South Korea          1        1        0        0        3
Argentina               1        1        0        0        3
Nigeria                   1        0        0        1        0
Greece                  1        0        0        1        0

Group C
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Slovenia                1        1        0        0        3
England                 1        0        1        0        1
USA                       1        0        1        0        1
Algeria 1        0        0        1        0

Group D
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Germany               1        1        0        0        3
Ghana 1        0        0        1        3
Serbia                    1        0        0        1        0
Australia                1        0        0        1        0

Group E
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Netherlands           1        1        0        0        3
Japan                    1        1        0        0        3
Cameroon 1        0        0        1        0
Denmark               1        0        0        1        0

Group F
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Italy                      1        0        1        0        1
New Zealand                   1        0        1        0        1
Paraguay               1        0        1        0        1
Slovakia                1        0        1        0        1

Group G
Team                    P       W      D       L        Pts
Brazil                     1        1        0        0        3
Ivory Coast 1        0        1        0        1
Portugal                 1        0        1        0        1
North Korea           1        0        0        1        0

Note: Group winners and runners-up qualify for second round.

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2 comments about Maicon saves the day for Brazil and other World Cup News
  1. June 16th, 2010 at 14:06
    Candy says:

    Good luck toBafana Bafana tonight!! Go BOYS!!!! SA Is behind you all the way. Can’t wait for the match tonight.

  2. June 16th, 2010 at 14:07
    Francois G says:

    GO BAFANA!!!!!!