lane's world cup diary
1.6.2002 - 9.6.2002
Skate, sleet and sunshine
The day's football didn't look too
enticing. Political tension in one game and sporting tension in
the other two as big teams try and stay in the competition.
However, the showing was better than expected.
Being back to work, I had to make do with
hurried updates on the scores from people returning from hearing the
latest on their radios. Not the most reliable means of keeping in
touch with what was going on, as I was confidently informed by one
colleague that Belgium had played out a 1-1 draw with Uruguay.
That was a good result I thought, until it dawned on me that it would be
... they are in different groups.
Seeing brief highlights, the USA v South
Korea match passed off with little to concern the waiting riot
police. Keeping out Kasey Keller as well as the home side was Brad
Friedel. His saves with all parts of his body denied South Korea a
famous victory and his right sided guess for the penalty was the first
saved in normal play for 12 years.
Mohican headed Clint Mathis gave the
Americans the lead when he latched onto a chip over the Asian defence
and shot past the keeper's right hand and just inside the post.
The top knot that was put on Hwang-Sun Hong, left his hair sticking up
more than usual above the swathe of bandage on his bonce. The star
sub Ahn entered the play in his place eventually and it was he who
levelled the scores.
Getting on the end of a cross from a free
kick out on the right, he guided the ball past Friedel with his head and
the red hordes in the stadium went wild. Especially when they saw
his celeb. Acting like an extra from a 1920's film doing the
Charleston, he was actually emulating the action of a speed skater and
this was a (not so) veiled reference to the demotion of a South Korean
speed skater in the recent Winter Olympics, who had the gold medal taken
away from him and given to an American. A chilling reminder that
the East-West sporting political agenda still exists in a Cold War of
it's own. The joy at this display was only matched by the home
fans jeering of the visitors when they warmed up, although their two
minutes of contempt (back turning and silence) of the "Star
Spangled Banner" was a repeat of Tottenham's fans plans back in
November. It didn't happen.
The warmth that would have drifted down
from the terraces should Lee Eul-Young's thoughtful lay back had been
steered in by Choi Yong-Soo instead of him hitting the ball higher than
two goals in the final minute of the match. It leaves both sides
with a chance of moving into the Second round, but with USA playing
Poland, they have a slightly easier task than South Korea, who face
Belgium - Tunisia. Pulses racing
?? Thought not, but this did turn out to be a decent enough
match. It opened with a flourish and Simons was denied by a slight
deflection that took the ball over and from the corner, Tunisia never
really convincingly cleared the ball past the halfway line, leaving
Belgium to press their goal. A free kick was headed into the six
yard box by Derby's Strupar and captain Marc Wilmots was there to prod
the ball home from close range and give his side a 13th minute lead.
Having been denied by the ref's whistle,
when a Bouazizi shot from 20 yards flew past de Vlieger was ruled out as
a free-kick had already been given, they were redeemed by Bouzaine's
bending shot from the dead ball, which was the best free-kick seen so
far this World Cup. It's curve and pace left the keeper grasping
at fresh air. And that was what the Africans brought to this
match, as they launched an all out attack on the Belgian goal.
Jaziri dragged a chance across the goal,
while Melki was brought down in the box, which wasn't given as a
penalty. There was a patchy spell for fifteen minutes before half
time, but it was Ghodhbane who lit things up with a technically superb
volley from the edge of the box. The only thing wrong was that it
curved away from the goal instead of into it !! On the hour, Goor
as denied by the keeper rushing out to block at his feet, then later a
low cross evaded every one as Belgium attacked. Ghodhbane nearly
won it at the end, forcing a punching save from de Vlieger.
Another draw in the group of draws, but
then what else can you expect from Belgium, who make this a life's work
!! Tunisia must win their last game against Japan, while a draw
will put Belgium out. Looks like the other two sides will be the
ones to progress.
Back to group D, as Poland tried to
salvage something in the rain at Jeungu. Portugal were having none
of it though and Pauleta made up for his poor showing in the first group
match by grabbing a hat-trick against a poor and unthinking
defence. A simple run wide left Hajto all at sea on the sodden
turf and the Benfica man with plant of space to step inside and plant a
low shot past Dudek. It was an astute pass form Joao Pinto, but
the defending was abyssmal.
The second had to wait until the second
half when Figo slid (quite literally) a cross low into the six yard box
and Pauleta did what all good forwards do and got in front of his marker
and met the ball before Dudek could change his dive. The third was
similar to the first, with the XXX man cutting inside the marker
Waldoch and hitting a shot past the Liverpool goalie. His chance
for his fourth was the easiest, but like many beofre him in this World
Cup, having rounded the keeper, he could not hit the net. Rui
Costa also had the same problem near the end, but his shot, having left
Dudek for dead, was cleared off the line.
By that time, Rui Costa had got his name
on the scoresheet and it was another right wing return ball in to him,
that he took one touch on and then poked home his shot. With Figo
curling a shot form 18 yards onto the post and other chances going
begging, it could have been a hatful for Portugal against a hollow
Kaluzny looked their liveliest player in
the early stages, but when he went off after a quarter of an hour, there
was little spark. Olisdebe has been a major disappointment after
scoring a lot in the qualifiers, but he only had one weak effort today
and played a part in the disallowed goal when the keeper Baia was
fouled. Even having the Zelakow twins on the pitch for fifteen
minutes failed to cause any confusion in the Portuguese side.
It was a better display by the Poles, but
the axe will surely fall on the manager, who has taken a team with hopes
of going to the quarter finals out at the first attempt. They are
a big string side, but failed to put that strength to any good use and
the chances they did create were not on target either.
Kryszalowicz had their best effort that at least forced Baia to a save.
They will have a lot of rebuilding to do,
while Portugal look to have saved face with this win. One point
from the next game will be enough now and on this showing, they could be
a side that builds as they go through the competition. Figo looked
batter and the defence which was all at sea against the USA looked more
together although they did not have much to face up to.
|RESULTS : -
Group D - USA 1 South Korea 1
Poland 0 Portugal
Group H - Belgium
|INTERESTING FACT : - It
is monsoon season in Asia. The Poland Portugal game proved that !!
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
Why do the Belgian shirts look orange from a distance and red when in a
close up TV shot ??
So, Arsenal are out of the World
Cup. Oh, sorry, that should have been France are out of the World
Cup. On the radio phone-ins, presenters were intimating that it is
sad that the French would not be taking part in the later stages of the
competition. Sorry, they will not be missed. Their arrogance
in expecting to be able to waltz through shows that they were not
willing to knuckle down and get through the group. Also, why
should we be sad to see them knocked out ? They plainly do not
deserve to be through, as they have finished bottom of their group (the
Group of inversion) without scoring a goal or winning a game. That
is a losers record in any language.
True, they were missing Zidane, a player
whose absence would affect any team, but they should have had enough
quality to cover that. His performance today showed glimpses that
he is the top player in the world. The robbing of the Danish
defender and instant curling shot that just went wide was the prime
Too many players failed to live up to
their reputation to often over the three games. Too many club
games and not enough competitive international matches have been cited
as reasons for their exit. As has bad luck ... the French hit the
woodwork twice in this game and the second Danish goal featured a
blatant pull on Desailly's shirt before Tomasson hit past Barthez.
The first goal, was just rank bad defending with Vieira failing to clear
and Rommedahl left unmarked at the far post.
Frankly, they were just not up to it when
the World Cup came around and Lemerre's contention that he has nothing
to be blamed for, is another example of their belief that they are above
the criticism usually reserved for other country's failures.
Perhaps it will make them a bit humbler in future.
In the other game in Group A, Senegal
raced to a 3-0 half-time lead. A penalty converted confidently by
Fadiga was brought about by Montero's poor back pass made Cabrini bring
down Diouf. It looked like a penalty first off, but then from
another angle it looked as though there was no contact ... but more of
that later. Perhaps that was why the keeper only got a yellow
Six minutes later, a break on the left by
Camara was rounded off when he dragged the ball back and was forced in
by Papa Bouba Diop. The same player increased the lead to 3-0 on
38 minutes, when looking suspiciously offside, he volleyed a shot that
rasped down off the bar and over the line.
Things started to go awry in the second
half (and only just), when Morales came on a substitute after the
break. It took 20 seconds for him to knock off one goal, prodding
home from close in after the keeper Sylva could not hold the shot from
Silva. It was a precious goal for Uruguay and meant that they
would test the mettle of Senegal.
With 70 minutes gone the ball came out to
Diego Forlan outside the box and he controlled the ball on his chest and
then hit a dipping volley that beat the goalie all ends up.
Opportunities were exchanged until the 88th min., when Morales went down
under challenge from two Senegal players, but he looked as though he was
anticipating the tackle and started to go down before they got near
him. The penalty was given and Recoba, who had failed to live up
to expectations, hit home.
The action was not over as the South
Americans failed to take the chance to go through when a shot was
blocked by a header from Diatta while laying on the floor and the ball
flew high into the air with Sylva scrambling on the floor. With
the goal just a yard or two away, the Uruguayan striker managed to head
the ball wide, with the goal open in front of him. The incredible
miss by Morales was perhaps payback for diving for the pen. It was
a sad way to sign off for the light blues who so much was expected from,
but for the African side, there was joy and a possible match up with
England in the next round depending on results from tomorrow's Groups F
Group E (surely the Group of ease) was
settled by two goals, 14 yellow and two red cards and a knockout in one
match and a dodgy keeper in the other.
Germany looked rattled when Samuel
Eto'o's pace took him near the penalty area and Carsten Ramelow tripped
him to see red for a second yellow card offence. I hope to see
that pace in a Spurs shirt next season and now that Cameroon are out,
perhaps the news will come a bit quicker !!
The early pressure came from Germany, and
the guilty men were Jancker, Ballack and Song (who headed just off
target from a cross !) who failed to capitalise on the supply.
Chances came Cameroon's way with Song heading a cross wide when in front
of goal and with no challenge on him. Olembe missed a chance to go
round Kahn and then when pushed wide, stuck in a weak cross that the
keeper nearly pushed into his own net.
Schneider's lob and Klose's blocked shot
were as close as they came to getting Germany back into the match, while
Wome hit a screamer of a free-kick just past the post.
It all kicked off just before half-time,
when a melee on the edge of the box set the game alight. The fact
that this became the dirtiest match played in World Cup finals (in terms
of cards) was no surprise. Then Ziege curled in a free kick from
the sideline that nearly caught Alioum unawares.
After the break, Jancker went off to be
replaced by Bode, who five minutes later took the ball from Klose and
steered the ball past the keeper. In an attempt to get back into
the game, the Cameroon boss brought on Suffo for a defender and shortly
after Lauren hit the post with a header, but there were more worries for
the Africans when Suffo rapidly collected two yellow cards and went off
with a red. That created more space for Germany to work in and it
was no surprise when Ballack made a right wing run and paid the ball
across into the six yard box for Klose to add to his burgeoning tally.
The Germans as ever, were not in any real
danger of going out, but the Cameroon players showed enough to indicate
that there are frailties in their side, especially now they will be
without the suspended Linke, Ziege and Ramelow in the Second
round. Their likely opponents are South Africa and you feel that
they might not need those suspended players to get through that match.
And so to Ireland, who faced the might of
Saudi Arabia needing a two goal win to get through. They achieved
this feat for the first time in finals and even went one further and
ended up 3-0 winners. The early goal by Robbie Keane, volleying
home from eight yards in six minutes, gave them a dream start, but the
keeper went right over the top of the shot and proved all match to be
the worst in the competition.
After scoring, the Irish sat back a bit
and failed to press home their advantage, letting the Saudi's back into
the match. Given had to make a couple of save s and a good block
at the base of his post to prevent them getting into a situation where
they would concede a goal.
The entry of Niall Quinn at half-time
would have been the announcement of the long ball into the box, but they
did not play like that and the build-up tended to be up the line.
Quinn did put one shot wide when he should have hit the target, while
the threats of a goal were still coming at the other end, where Given
was agile enough to prevent anything slipping past him in the rainy
When a free-kick was swung in from the
left wing, it was not Quinn who got there, but Breen, who adeptly turned
his volley past Al Daeyea. The keeper was totally at fault for the
final Irish goal, when a smart ball inside the full back from Holland
found Duff and he let rip with a powerful drive. The keeper failed
to get his body behind it and it went off his weak wrists and into the
net with three minutes remaining. Any fears of the result of the
other game in the group going against them were now washed away as the
rain eased off.
It was a result that they needed and one
they got. Not pretty, but then I bet the French would have given
anything for being in their position. With Spain the most likely
opponents next up, they will be tested and will have to take the chances
that come their way, as it is unlikely that Casillas will be as helpful
to their cause as Al Daeyea. Also the Spaniards are more than
capable of going all the way in this tournament.
The all green kit of Ireland was almost
indistinguishable against the pitch in some occasions when the light was
right. The same could be said for the faces of the French !!
|RESULTS : -
Group A - Senegal 3 Uruguay 3
Group E - Germany
2 Cameroon 0
0 Republic of Ireland 3
|INTERESTING FACT : -
France went out of the competition with the worst record of any
defending World Cup holder.
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
Are the refs too involved in the game these days ?? Two have
played one-twos with the players in the last two days.
|INVENTED WORD OF THE DAY : -
Cezanne (Barry Davies) - instead of Zidane, who we knew was an artist on
the ball but ...
Boys Don't Cry
Having watched the England game at
breakfast time in an Enfield pub with only one mate in a crowd full of
strangers, it was a bewildering experience. Some people were so
wound up by England's performance, John Motson's commentary and Trevor
Brooking's expert comments that I thought a fight was going to break out
!! Apparently, that did happen after the Argentina match and the
Town centre had to be closed for an hour !!
It is nice that the team do stir such
passions in people, but there is a desperate need to put things into
perspective. England are a good side. Good, but
inconsistent. The team are able to perform at a high level of
play, but there is still the progression to do so on a regular basis
that needs to come.
Today was not a good day for them.
Only in terms of the way they played, as they got the result they needed
to go through, although the lack of joyousness at the final whistle
probably told more about how they felt. Playing in 94 degree heat
and great humidity, the conditions affected the way they went about the
game. Such considerations did not come into the calculation for
those who were boozing from 7.00 in the morning back home !!
Nigeria started well and for the first 15
minutes had England under pressure. Some poor positional play by
Cole and Campbell contributed to Nigeria getting round the back on the
right wing, but they could not find the finish they required.
Seaman had to snuff out some efforts that
came his way, but few threatened directly. Rio Ferdinand had
another good game, mopping up behind the others and showing a growing
maturity, which I hope continues for another couple of weeks. In
midfield Scholes did OK and Butt stuck at his task, but there was little
supply to Owen and Heskey. The two occasions they did get in Owen
had to use his pace to get into the box, but shot wide and Mills' low
cross was hit towards goal by Heskey, but the keeper smothered it at the
Scholes' break from midfield to force the
keeper (Enema was his name I think, that was why someone in the pub said
he don't like it up him) to tip his drive onto the post.
The second half was dreary as the heat
took it's toll. One shot hit Beckham on the top of his head and he
made sure that his cock's comb was in place before carrying on.
And then Motty came out with one of the comments of the tournament when
he said " ... and Seaman's coming out" !! He had only to
add " ... behind Campbell" and no-one could have been
England's best efforts came from a
Beckham free-kick that skimmed the top of the net and Sheringham's
surprise shot from 30 yards that missed the post, but only just, with
the keeper nowhere (no that wasn't the substitute goalie's name).
So gaining the draw was enough, but as
news broke from the other game that Argentina had a penalty near the
end, which was scored on the rebound, the last few minutes were beamed
across the world to the pub. As chances went away and the ball was
up in the air when the whistle blew, the pub erupted in cheers.
Argentina had drawn and were out of the World Cup. The images of
Batistuta crying and their fans looking downcast will stick in the
memory for a long time. In the final shakedown, they will be
viewed as not having done enough. For all the talent they had in
the side, it means nothing unless it produces something. As France
In the other group to be decided today,
there was another turn up. A Spurs player scored !! Yes, our
new midfielder Acimovic hit Slovenia's second goal in the tournament in
injury time at the end of the first half. He was on the right wing
and near the dead ball line, when he hit s hot at Chilavert, but the
ball went between him and the post and flew off his arm and into the
Milenko had shown a few nice touches, as
well as the "collapsing" side of his game. Into the
second half, his left footed shot from the edge of the area had
Chilavert beaten all ends up before crashing back off the bar. His
departure in the 62nd minute, blowing kisses to the crowd, was the
beginning of the end for his country. They proceeded to concede
three goals in the last 25 minutes to leave them pointless and with only
Acimovic's plus one other goal to show for their three games.
Paraguay had battled since the 20th
minute with ten men after Paredes had been dismissed with two yellow
cards. However, they had a good spell about ten minutes before the
break and could have grabbed a goal, but Acimovic gave the Slovenians a half
time lead. After his departure, it was the Paraguayan substitutes
who came to life and Cuevas got two cracking goals, cutting inside onto
his left foot each time and beating the keeper, while Campos hit a low
drive from the left side of the box that the keeper should have done
better with. Only Dabanovic's hand stopped opposing keeper
Chilavert getting on the scoresheet from a 30 yard free-kick. The
bar did the rest.
Nastja Ceh got sent off for a nasty
challenge with studs up to round off the Slovenians misery. But
they were not the only ones to leave the competition disappointed.
In the other Group B (Group of turn-ups)
match, South Africa gifted Spain an opening goal in the first five
minutes. Mendieta hit a hopeful ball forward into the box and
Arendse managed to let the ball go right through him, leaving Raul the
simplest task in walking the ball in. Four minutes gone and 0-1
down, South Africa started to battle back. Sibaya hit a screamer
from 20 yards and Castillas had to lunch it away, while Zuma went close
to a post with another long range effort. Mendieta got in a shot
that was cleared off the line and Arendse palmed away a Morientes
header, before Bafana Bafana equalised. Novomethe nodded down a
cross into the six yard box and McCarthy finally got a World Cup goal
with a sweeping shot into the net.
Having been denied already, a free kick
was too good to turn down just before the break and Mendieta curled it
past the keeper. The lead only lasted until six minutes after the
break, when Radebe headed a corner in at the far post. That score
changed after another few minutes as Joaquin's long cross was met by
Raul's head and the lead was restored for Spain.
The game finished with Luque forcing a
save from the South African keeper and Enrique missing from close range,
as the other side failed to make the second round by one goal. If
only they hadn't given Spain the lead and then they would have got
through, but then that is the World Cup. Who would have thought
Paraguay would have pulled their game around ??
Tomorrow it is Italy's turn to try and
stay in the World Cup. How many more twists and turns can there be
|RESULTS : -
Group A - South Africa 2 Spain
Group F - Sweden
1 Argentina 1
|INTERESTING FACT : -
The French team played "cat and mouse" with the public on
their return to a Paris airport, as a rotten egg toting crowd awaited
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
Why can't the Argentinians make a dignified exit, seeing as how they
make such a fuss when they win ??
Easy and lucky
With two of the favourites taking part in
the final group games today, there were contrasting fortunes for them.
Brazil went through in style scoring almost
at will against a stylish Costa Rica side, while Italy struggled to get
the result they needed with Mexico.
The Brazil match was one of the most
entertaining so far in the tournament. Goals, goalmouth action and
only one card in added time at the end of the game, all added up to a
glittering display by both sides of all that is good about the game ...
except defending !! From the tenth minute, when Ronaldo made a
classic striker's move to get across his markers and nudge the ball in
via a Costa Rican foot, the die was cast for a feast of attacking
delights. The returning forward found the ball at his feet from a
cleared corner, but only at the near post, where he wriggled past two
defenders and struck a shot past the narrow gap between the keeper and
the post. It is a real boost for his country to see him back. Not
quite the same player, but four years older in age, but not in playing
years, having been out for almost the whole of the intervening period
since the last World Cup.
Costa Rica failed to get anything out of
this game or progress in the competition because they failed to do what
Brazil did. That was to make the most of their chances and to play
the game simply. For all their fancy flicks and touches, Brazil
pass and move. They choose the easy pass (most of the time) and
although they might play that pass in an outrageous way, if you watch
their play, it is not anything extraordinary when taken to basics.
The central American side often tried to over egg the pudding and lost
out because of that. Even the chances that fell to Centeno (7
yards out unmarked), Wright (free header) and Wanchope (twice round the
keeper - one off line, on off bar), were not taken. The one they
did get in the first half was a really good move. Wanchope flicked
the ball around the corner to Wright, who laid the ball into his path in
the box to shoot and it beat Marcus off the underside of Lucio's thigh.
Unfortunately for them, it was making the
score 3-1, as Edmilson had marauded forward and got on the end of a move
he began, with a spectacular overhead kick that left Lonnis clutching
air. Something he had done earlier, when grasping Juninho's free
kick, but letting it go straight through and luckily wide. He
didn't get anywhere near Rivaldo's free kick that bounced back off a
post and Rivaldo didn't get a volley anywhere near Lonnis, after good
work on the left by Ronaldo set him up.
While Brazil play beautiful football,
Anderson Polga must have one of the most ugly names in the game. Not
that it matters as he was one of the players who came in to give rests
to some of their regulars. The second half started with Castro
hitting a shot that Marcus put over the bar. It looked like he had
suffered a bite from a vampire on his neck, as he wore two plasters
there, and that might explain his (old joke) fear of crosses !!
Costa Rica didn't have to wait long for another goal, as Bryce broke
down the right wing and crossed for Gomez to head home at the far post.
But then Brazil took charge and Rivaldo
copied his strike partner in scoring from a low left wing cross and then
the provider scored tow minutes later, with a deft touch and a powerful
drive past the keeper. Costa Rica battled to get back into it, but
apart form a flowing move with back-heels and flicks to set up Castro
and Junior hitting his own post with an attempted clearance, they could
not force the goal that might have helped their cause. Fonseca
shot across Marcus, but past the post too and when Wanchope's Shot came
off the bar, you knew is wasn't going to be their day.
That became even more evident when Turkey
turned over China 3-0 to go through to the second round. They
started early with Sas driving past Jiang Jin in the sixth minute and
then after nine Bulent rose highest to head a corner over the keeper and
in at the far post. It was a lead that the Chinese found it hard
to come back from. Li Weifing hit a shot well wide and Hao Heidong
had s hot saved comfortably by Rustu. Yang Chen came closest, when
he hit a powerful volley that crashed back off the post.
The China side had been holding their own
but that all changed in the 59th minute, when substitute Shao Jiayi was
dismissed 13 minutes after coming on, for raking his studs down the back
of Emre's calf. Sukur had two opportunities to score; one from a
header that the keeper did well to palm round and another when on the
floor, that he could only hook over his shoulder into the goalie's
hands. Irhan was also having loads of trouble scoring. he
found the right hand of the keeper to turn aside one of his low shots
and then he missed sitter from the resulting corner, managing to get the
ball over the bar from about a yard out !!
However, the third goal that made
qualification certain did come when Sas crossed deep and Umir Devala hit
a low, skidding volley into the net. I can't see the Turkish side
progressing too far, as they have failed to live up to their recent past
reputation, but on their day they can be formidable opponents.
Not something that could be aimed at
Croatia, even though they did manage to beat Italy with the help of a
linesman. Here they had no such assistance from the assistant
referee and went out courtesy of a 1-0 win for Ecuador, their first in
World Cup finals. Delgado's header back from a cross from De La
Cruz found Mendez, who hit his shot first time and true, low past
Pletikosa's dive. The lead was protected by Aguinaga's clearance
off the line and it is thanks to his thigh, which had threatened to rule
him out, that they go home with three points and it is Croatia that are
Juts before half time, Croatia had their
best spell with Boksic involved each time. He dinked a shot onto
the outside of a post, had a shot well blocked by the stretching Hurtado
and then was denied for a third time, as Porozo cleared the ball lobbed
over the keeper as it headed for goal.
Croatia showed again that the flop against
Mexico in their first game was no fluke. they were impotent
against the South Americans and even though they brought on the sluggish
Mario Stanic, who had three headers (all weak ones), they could not find
the inspiration to get a goal, which would have been enough to take them
into the next round. It would not have been a justified
progression, as they have been poor this time around and even the
"old head" Aguinaga (as he was described on TV), man, made more
impact on the game than more illustrious names on the other side.
While this was going on, Italy were
showing that they are more than capable of living with France and
Argentina, when playing Mexico. The Central American side showed
some marvellous football that pegged Italy back for long periods.
Inzaghi looked unlucky to have a goal
chalked off for offside (not an uncommon feature of Italy's games so
far), but Totti had the opportunity to settle nerves when he was left
with only the keeper to beat by Inzaghi and he failed. With the
ball slightly behind him, he bent it around the goalie and the goal too
!! Another Italian attack lead to the Mexico goal. A sliding
tackle by Carmona started a passing movement that went up the left wing,
then switched to the other side and finally Blanco played a straight
ball into the box and Borgetti nodded across Buffon and gave the
Mexicans the lead. It was a well worked passing move that saw no
opposition player touch the ball from the moment the tackle in their own
box was made until it ended up in the Italy net.
Zambrotta and Carmona both had volleys
wide at either end, while it was only Cannavaro's intervention that
stopped Borgetti's shot from 12 yards hitting the net. It hit the
Italian defender's leg instead.
After the break, Perez did well to deny
both Inzaghi and Vieri as they bore down on goal and at the other end,
Arellano played a nice one-two with Blanco, but could force the ball
past a defender on the line, even though he had forced it past Buffon.
Borgetti just failed to reach the ball first, but it was cleared.
Mexico started to push on and Rodriguez blasted a shot two feet wide and
Blanco one over the bar, but Italy were also trying to get back into
it. Montella had a goal disallowed for offside, blazed another
shot over the bar and then sub Coco hit a corner off for a throw-in
halfway towards the halfway line in a bizarre incident !!
It was left to the old wonder boy of
Italian football to settle the nerves. Coming on for Totti, who
had failed to shine, Alessandro Del Piero found a run from beyond two
defenders to meet Montella's hooked cross and head it past Perez with
five minutes remaining.
As the game came to the 90 minute mark,
both sides must have been informed of the result in the other match,
which meant they were both through. This left a strange ending to
a whole-hearted affair, with Mexico passing the ball amongst themselves
for four minutes of added time, without Italy touching the ball ... or
indeed trying to. It was out of keeping with the previous ninety
and although it didn't matter, there was the chance that Italy could
have finished top of the group. As it is, they could now face
A fine day's matches, with two really
good ones, one good one and one poor game. With the last group
games tomorrow, the knock out stages will begin on Saturday. They
might be more cagey, but there will be a winner one way or another and
the only passing around at the end will be a sign that one side is inestimably
better than the other. Let's hope there are some exciting games
tomorrow first though.
|RESULTS : -
Group C - Brazil 5 Costa Rica 2
Group G - Italy
1 Mexico 1
|INTERESTING FACT : -
Mexico strung together 54 passes in injury time in their match against
|INVENTED WORD FOR THE DAY : -
"Error" ... as in "the ball was played into the danger
error" quoted by Trevor Brooking in the Italy-Mexico match.
Any Port in a Storming finish
The last four places for the Second round
were up for grabs and seven of the eight teams taking part could have
qualified. Only four could and it was surprising that the results
turned out how they did and how the top two teams of the groups ended up
Group H (the group of fans) was settled
first. But it went to the wire. Japan's progress was fairly
straight forward with a 2-0 win over Tunisia, who had to settle for
their one point against Russia. I didn't see this game, but caught
the highlights and the two goals from Morishima and Nakata were both
worthy of taking the home side through. They were smartly taken
and even though the Africans hit the bar near the end, there was no
doubting that Troussier's inventive approach has given the Japanese some
status in the competition and the world game too. Taking on Turkey
might be a game they think they can win in the next phase.
That left one place to be decided by the
other group game featuring Belgium and Russia. They had both
stumbled through their first two games, but the Russians were in pole
position, although they were to be undone by some bad defending
here. Waleme's free kick from 20 yards left Nigmatullin nowhere
near the ball as it went in near the post and Belgium had the important
lead in the match.
The chances that Belgium then proceeded
to miss looked like they might cost them, when Russia scrambled an
equaliser on 52 minutes. Sychev hit a shot that was well stopped
by de Vlieger, but the ball bounced away from him to Bestchastnykh, who
shot past the man on the line to bring them level and put them in the
qualifying place in the group. Wilmots effort in missing the goal
from Mbo Mpenza's cross was astounding and then Waleme hit the side
netting instead of the target.
Just when it looked like things were
going badly, Wesley Sonck came on for Mpenza and headed in a corner,
then Wilmots made amends by collecting Goor's through ball and turning
infield, found space to hit a shot past the Russian keeper. Panic
stations were activated when with two minutes left, Sychev slipped a
goal past the Belgian goalie and then in the final minute late sub
Kerzhakov had a perfect opportunity to put them into a second round
place, but lifted his header well over and with it their hopes were
Belgium are one of those sides, who never
seem to stand out, but get through to a decent stage of the
tournament. How they do that, I don't know. Perhaps someone
will analyse their players and tactics, but I reckon they won't find
anything there apart from resolute play and a slice of luck.
Group D was a different story. With
the poor Poles hardly getting started, it would be a formality for USA
to beat them to go through and then Portugal would push aside their
welcoming hosts to progress too. That was the script, which got
ripped up somewhere along the way.
USA, in fact, got off to an awful start,
conceding two goals in little more than four and a half minutes and
having one of their own from Donovan written off for a deliberate push
on a defender. So, a quiet little opening to the match then
!! It was Nigerian born Olisadebe who hit the opener. From a
corner, his first shot was blocked and his second ripped into the roof
of the net. Kryszalowicz got on the end of a left wing cross, put
low into the box. The Yanks could have been more goals down and
the reason they stayed at 0-2 was luck. Kryszalowicz was unlucky
to see Friedel save his firm shot form 8 yards and the ball broke to
Krzynowek and his shot was deflected onto a post, out and away.
After the break, the Poles were peppering
the American goal, with the result that they were getting caught on the
break. They were hoist by their own petard and as Poland pressed
forward, Sanneh brought down Kryszalowicz, who was more than a handful,
being a huge presence and physique too. Zurawski strode up to take
the kick, but it was unconvincingly hit and Friedel had no problems
diving to his left to collect his second penalty save of the
Mathis was the one who had most chances
for the States, but he headed one onto the roof of the net and hit a
post too, but finally, he did the decent thing and set up someone else,
instead of try and score himself. Nodding the ball sideways, he
found Donovan to the left of the penalty spot and he hit a right footed
volley sure and true into the bottom corner of the net past Majdan, who
had been preferred to Liverpool keeper Dudek.
So, the Americans were left sweating,
quite literally, on the result of the other game. Initially, it
had been thought that this would be a walk in the park for Portugal, but
it ended with them being walked over by Park to send South Korea through
the group stage for the first time in World Cups.
Having made the decision to go down the
pub to watch the game, the request to the barman to put the football on,
might have looked an unpopular one at half-time. The first 45
minutes had little to commend it. A couple of tame efforts on
goal, Pauleta blasting over and wide when through and the sending off of
Joao Pinto. This half-pint is a temperamental soul and his two footed
lunge at Park Si Jung was lucky not to break his leg. One of the
Portuguese's leg knocked the Korean's shin pad around his leg, while the
other snaked around and under the standing leg, thus bringing him down
and landing with his weight on it. Doing this was bad enough, but
perpetrating the foul just two yards for the ref was daft. A red
was the only option.
But not according to the Portuguese, who
thought this was harsh. They surrounded the official, much like
they had done in Euro 2000, and they jostled him to try and get him to
change his mind, which he was never going to do. What Couto
thought he was doing laying his hands on the refs cheeks, I don't
know. Perhaps it was his Morecombe and Wise impersonation !!
Hiddink was not impressed, as he was taking his jacket off on the
touchline, ready to see Pinto outside !!
After this, Korea seemed content to hold
the ball and not press home their one man advantage, but half-time came
and went and the second half started a little livelier. Two
headers from Seol and Yoo both narrowly missed the goal and the Dutch
coach's half time team talk must have shaken them up a bit. Even
Portugal realised that they might have to do something in this game and
from a corner, Pauleta stooped to conquer, but was denied by a
leap from the Korean keeper Lee Woon Jae. Then came the moment
that turned the match.
Beto had already been booked earlier in
the game and as Lee Young Pyo broke down the left, he rashly dived in
and caught the player late. It could only be another yellow and
that spelled red. Like Pinto, he didn't want to go and Figo
remonstrated with the ref this time, but more serious consequences were
to occur four minutes later. With a corner won on the left wing,
due to some slow reaction from the Portuguese defence, it was headed out
to the taker, who's second attempt was chested down by Park at the far
post. He tricked Conceicao with a dink around him and then blasted
the half volley low through Baia's legs to give Korea the lead.
The joy from the fans and bench was
almost short lived as Portugal then realised they would be going
out. With nine men it was hard to get back into it, but Figo
flashed a free kick inches wide, then Nuno Gomes failed to get a decent
contact with a through ball with only the keeper to beat. Baia
earned some respect after a poor World Cup with some good late saves to
prevent his side going further behind and it was left to Conceicao to
have the last word as he cut in from the left, went outside again and
got a left foot shot in that the keeper pushed away, before he had a
later effort that crashed back off the post. At the end he sunk to
his knees in tears, but they could have been tears of joy if the ability
of the players had been channeled in the right direction, rather than
the shame of being reduced by two men to a team who were rightly shown
the exit door.
Like their leaving of the European
Championships, it left a bitter memory rather than the one that they
could have posted in people's minds. For that reason alone, teams
like South Korea and USA are worthy participants in the latter stages
this time around. Win in style and lose with pride. Not many
teams have been able to do either so far, but let's hope that knock out
part of the competition has some good moments to savour.
|RESULTS : -
Group D - South Korea 1 Portugal
Group H - Japan
2 Tunisia 0
Belgium 3 Russia 2
|INTERESTING FACT : -
The host nation has never failed to go through to the second stage of
the World Cup.
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
Why do Portugal play like that when they have some of the most skilful
players in the world ??
Dull, but not downcast
How boring was the Germany-Paraguay game
?? The word mind-numbing might
have been designed for this very occasion. Perhaps the heat might
have had something to do with it, but other early morning (UK time)
games had not been so uninteresting.
In the first half of the first half, the
German forwards (playing in a 4-4-2 formation) lacked support and the
Paraguayans forwards lacked belief. Cardoza is one of the worst
players in the competition and Santa Cruz, obviously felt that playing
for Bayern Munich, he would be found out by his Bundesliga
colleagues. Hid departure with an injury virtually waved goodbye
to any chance they had of progressing.
Birthday boy Oliver Kahn punched away an
Arce free-kick, while at the other end Bode and Klose both were too high
with their efforts on goal. Paraguay came strong at the end of the
half with Ayala missing a golden opportunity by mis-hitting a volley and
then Campos, on as a substitute, cut inside to force Kahn into action.
The break came as a blessed relief to all
and Germany regrouped in a more familiar 3-4-3 line-up, which saw them
press forward for the first time with any conviction. Schnedier
brought a save out of Chilavert as the half started and then had a
free-kick slip past the post by a couple of feet. Campos' pace was
a threat and his unexpected shot made Kahn save sharply. With just
over a quarter of an hour left, a free kick conceded on the edge of the
German box brought the Paraguay keeper trundling forward to take it and
he got it over the wall, but over the bar too.
As the game was all but heading for extra
time, when a cross from the left ended up on the foot of Neuville,
cutting in at the near post, to guide it into the net and guide his side
into the quarter-finals. It spared the watching world the spectre
of another thirty minutes of this dreary excuse for football. It
was only then that the game livened up, when in injury time, Ballack
pushed Acuna after the ball had gone and the Paraguayan midfielder swung
an elbow into the German's face. A yellow for Ballack, but a red for
Acuna rounded off a totally unsatisfactory day's work for those involved
and for the audience in their armchairs.
Thank goodness England salvaged some of
the reputation of the beautiful game ... and how often could you say
that ?? A fiery first half performance wrapped up their place in
fine style against a lethargic and unimaginative Danish side. How
they ever beat France I will never know ... or perhaps France were worse
than we thought.
Ferdinand's fifth minute far post header
from a corner caught Sorensen grabbing it as he dived back towards his
own goal and that was what he got. Fumbling the ball he could only
claw it out once it was over the line, but even then Heskey raced it to
hammer it into the roof of the net to make sure there was no doubt about
the goal ... only the scorer. It was a dream start, but then
another early goal against Scandinavian opponents earlier in the
tournament had ended in a draw.
Owen missed a volley as Beckham's dinked
cross over the defender caught him slightly stretching, while Heskey
could not get in front of his marker enough to divert the ball towards
goal with pace. On another break, he out-muscled the defender and
with Sorensen bearing down on him, tried to chip over the keeper and
failed, when Owen was standing unmarked just five yards away.
With 22 minutes gone, the lead was
doubled. Sinclair played a low ball into the box to Butt, who
flicked the ball around the corner and it was controlled by Owen, who
steered it past Sorenson with his left foot and into the inside of the
side netting. It preserved his record of scoring against the
Sunderland keeper in the each of the last three seasons. The
marking was lax and England can rarely have believed that they had the
space to play the ball around like that.
Four minutes later, Gravesen broke from
midfield and played the ball to Sand. The forward came inside both
Campbell and Ferdinand to the centre of the area and hit a shot that
just went a ball's width wide of the post. At this stage, England
were giving plenty of space for Denmark to come onto them, to the extent
that the red shirts enjoyed 60% of possession in the first half.
Tomasson mugged up Rio on the left and put in a cross to no-one in a
Denmark shirt and that was their problem. Having to catch up a two
goal deficit meant that they had to chase the game, but there was little
understanding and the England wing backs marshalled the flying Danish
wingers so well that they were hardly seen.
This all became academic on 44 minutes,
when an England throw was headed against Beckham by Niclas Jensen and
the Man U man's ball in front of Heskey was to tempting to pass up this
time and he hit it with great power past Sorensen, who might have done
better with it.
The greatest threat to the England goal
came shortly after, in added time, as Gravesen won the ball from Owen
and marauded forward to hit a screamer that was dipping on Seaman, but
he got his gloves to it and pushed it over the bar.
The second half was a bit of a more
subdued affair as Denmark did not have the wit to break down the English
defence, while England were willing to wait for the chance to hit their
opponents on the break. In fact, the liveliest Denmark got was
when they believed it was OK to kick a man when he is down.
Gronkjaer decided to aim a couple of swift boots to the back of Danny
Mills after a challenge that got the Leeds man booked, but was due to
the Chelsea winger trying to bring him down in the first place.
This little cameo will no doubt be resolved when the two sides meet in
the Premiership and equally as sure a bet is that Graeme Le Saux will be
there or thereabouts.
England were more refined than to do the
same to the Danish side and threatened only fleetingly in the second
period. Beckham had two shots and Sinclair dived in to head a
Fowler shot over the bar. Meanwhile Tomasson replicated this feat
when he did the same to a Bogelund shot. The only joy they had was
at the end, when Claus Jensen almost repeated his chip past a Gooner
keeper, when Seaman just got fingers to the effort to get it up and
Even the commentators on BBC were lost
for things to talk about. Teddy winning his 50th cap brought Motty
out in full statto flow saying that Brooking (his expert analyser) had
not made that target, but what a career he had had anyway !! Then
he came out with one of the comments of the World Cup, when he stated
that "Butt should have had it away, as should Ferdinand"
!! Just as well he didn't include Kieron Dyer in that one !!
A convincing win and looking much better
than the stuttering Germans, England will move on to the quarters with
confidence to meet Belgium or Brazil. They will find either a
tougher proposition than this Danish team who threatened to sizzle, but
are best back in their home country.
|RESULTS : -
Second round : -
England 3 Denmark 0
|INTERESTING FACT : -
The Seogwipo stadium saw it's last match in this confrontation and will
be dismantled ... at the cost of $100 million per game !!
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : - Who
thought that building stadia for this World Cup and then ripping them
apart was a good use of money ?? Aren't there countries who have
grounds there already and which can be used afterwards out there ??
Play to a finish
When teams say they want to go all the
way, some do really take that literally. Some seem to want to take
the result after about 65 minutes of the game, but these two matches
kept us on the edge of our collective seats ay home.
Having woke up late, I missed the first
half hour, but saw the repeat of Larsson's goal; a well taken header
from a corner. I was more impressed by Senegal, who scored a well worked
Receiving the ball on the edge of the
"D", Henri Camara pushed the ball out of his feet and past two
Swedish defenders, then hit a crisp shot across Hedman that went in near
the post. It wasn't long before he was striking fear into the
European's defence, when he got on the end of a left wing cross and
headed wide, when free in front of goal.
The only effort I saw from Sweden in the
last quarter of an hour of the first half was a free kick from Anders
Svensson ,which was acrobatically caught by Tony Sylva, who appears to
be one of the few keepers who believe in catching the ball.
The second half started more
entertainingly, with Svensson drilling a shot straight at Sylva, when
freed down the middle and Allback volleyed into the ground from 10 yards
out, taking all the pace off the ball. The latter set up a good
opportunity for the former, with a knocked back header, but Svensson
blazed his volley wide.
Senegal started to edge back into the
match when striker Thiaw couldn't get a proper hit on the ball as it
dropped from a corner and Diouf forced Hedman into action to tip over a
free kick, but there was little coming from the midfield of either side,
as moves tended to be from long balls out of defence. Thiaw got on
the end of a corner again and his strike was deflected away for a corner
by a defender's leg.
Bringing on Ibrahimovic, a big strong
forward, gave Sweden a physical advantage, but his selfishness cost
them, because he could have set up Larsson, who was in space, but chose
to try and hit the target ... and failed. He had done well to
muscle past two defenders, but having taken them out of the play, he
should have made better use of the space made for his colleague.
So, with no more ado about nothing in the
remainder of the game, it went into Golden goal extra time. In the
104th minute, Camara clicked and it took the Africans through to the
quarter finals. Before that Ibrahimovic brought a brave stop out
of Sylva and Anders Svensson produced a smart double drag back and a
shot on the turn against the post, that bounced out. His side had
no such luck, when a back heel set up Camara to reel through the Swedish
back four and produced a snapshot off the upright and it bounced into
the net. As Senegal began their dance of joy, the bashed Swedes flopped
to the turf to hide their embarrassment.
Despite the experience of playing at this
level and the size of the team, Sweden lacked sufficient movement to
seriously trouble the Senegal team, who showed exciting skill and off
the ball work. They may not win the World Cup, but they have won
lots of admirers and friends for their refreshing play.
The same cannot be said of Spain, who
tournament after tournament disappoint despite all the talent at their
disposal. Having taken an eighth minute lead from the head of
Morientes, who got in front of Breen to nod Puyol's cross in across
Given at the near post.
Their attack posed problems for the Irish
defence, but they were too often off-side to make their movement between
the two forwards pay. On the other hand, Ireland never got their
attacking game going and only created one chance from a Holland chip
into the box, which bounced too high for Robbie Keane to do anything
else than hook it goalwards, but over.
Quinn's arrival after half-time and
Spain's injuries turned around the second half in which both keepers had
more to do. Raul dragged a ball back for Morientes to run onto,
but Given was out smartly to block and Casillas came out for a long ball
and bumped into Puyol, leaving Kilbane with the ball at his feet with a
shot on goal. Unfortunately, it was blocked on the line.
Keane, Duff and Quinn all had opportunities as Spain went into their
shell after Morientes and Raul had gone off. It cost them in the
63rd minute a penalty for Ireland was awarded, when Juanfran tripped
Duff. Harte, the scourge of the Premiership from free-kicks and
penalties, stepped up. And hit his shot straight into Casillas
diving hands at a nice height for him to save. Not only that, but
Kilbane hit the rebound wide, when all he had to do was kick the ball in
a straight line into the net !!
With time running out, it looked like
another valiant effort, but a losing one by the Irish ... until at a
free-kick, Hierro (the experienced Spanish captain, although you would
be surprised), tried to rip Quinn's shirt off him with both hands.
In the last minute of the encounter, the Danish ref pointed to the spot,
much to the disgust of the red shirted players. Can't think why.
With Harte off having been substituted,
it was left to Robbie Keane and this time, he dispatched the pen. coolly
into the corner of the net. You could see the Spanish heads
drop. Instead of going for the win, they sat back during golden
goal extra time, they looked as if they would settle for penalties
(maybe because they had only ten men on the pitch because of injury to
Abelda) and it was nearly Keane twice and Connolly who made them pay for
it by going close twice. Baraja also had one opportunity to score,
but Given saved well coming out of his goal.
So no golden goal, but would one be
scored in the penalty shoot out ?? Well, it proved to be a false
dawn for Ireland when Keane stuck the first one away, because Holland
hit the bar, while Kilbane and Connolly were thwarted by Casillas.
Valeron hit a post and Juanfran blazed his spot-kick well over, but the
deciding fifth Spanish penalty taker was Mendieta. His usual
accuracy from corners and free-kicks had been lacking in the time he was
on the pitch after leaving the bench, but his precise shot left Ireland
out and the Spanish limped on to the quarter final against either South
Korea or Italy.
You don't always get what you deserve in
the game, but the Irish got more praise in losing than the Spanish did
in victory. Not only that, but they did it the hard way and they
are the archetypal underdogs who always make it hard for the big boys,
but that undermines the ability in their team, with some hard work piled
on top of some skilled players. They always give it a crack and
are there for the craic, but when it comes down it, they are a hard nut
to crack. It is a shame that they will not be remembered for what
they did in this tournament, but for who missed the boat.
|RESULTS : -
Second round : -
Senegal 2 (after extra time- Golden goal)
Republic of Ireland 1 Spain 1 (Spain win
3-2 on penalties after extra time)
|INTERESTING FACT : -
Ireland in 65 games under Mick McCarthy, have never lost by more than a
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : - Why
couldn't Hierro wait until the end of the game to swap shirts with Niall
The big kick off
With two teams who had impressed in
qualifying for this stage and two who had got through despite
themselves, the two ties made for an interesting viewing. Or that
was what we thought !!
Being stuck on the M25 in a traffic
gridlock for an hour allowed me to follow the USA-Mexico match on the
radio. Watching the pictures later on, I must say that Danny
Baker, Jonathan Pearce and Craig Brown did manage to convey the action
quite well and their surprise at the way Mexico played was clear to be
seen, when I saw the match on BBC Interactive later.
For a team who had played such
entertaining football to be reduced to this was sad to see and the
Mexican side psyched themselves out of the competition. Having
gone a goal down to a good move by the US and then been denied a penalty
for hands against O'Brien, when he clearly fisted the ball out, they
went to pieces in the second half, taking most of their anger out on
Cobi Jones. Perhaps because he was small or as Hawksbee and Jacobs
suggested, he looked too much like Sideshow Bob, only they will know.
The kung-fu kick up his arse, quickly
followed by a cracking head-butt into the side of his face earned
Marquez a sending off, which ended the tournament for him. He had
been a real star, but his implosion meant that the straight red for the
attack on the dwarf left his side chasing the game (and Jones) even
further and they nearly paid for it when he escaped down the left and
crossed for Donovan to volley over from right in front of the
goal. It was the place he had headed his goal from, when Lewis
crossed from the left in a goal that reminded me of Lineker's v
Argentina in 1986.
It followed this goal that Fernandez put
in what Danny baker rated the worst dive of the World Cup and talk about
going down in stages !! The yellow was well earned. But the
damage had been done to the Central American side's progress. A
goal in the seventh minute saw a move develop on the right from a
quickly taken free kick. McBride started it and then got on the
end of a lay-back from Wolff to shoot home.
The USA were a side who had overcome
their defeat by Poland and were confident enough to control the match
against a Mexican team, who failed to show any of the flair they had in
their first three matches. Only twice did they threaten Friedel's
goal and that was in the same move. The Blackburn keeper flapped at a
cross and then had to scoop the ball out from under the bar, as
Fernandez moved in. Conversely, Wolff could have settled the tie
after 36 minutes, when Perez moved out sharply to block the shot with
The lack of ambition by Mexico as they
played well within themselves was a strange approach. The US side is an
athletic one and they keep going to the end, closing down the channels
of supply, but here, most notably, the danger man Borgetti was marked
out of the match. With coach Bruce Arena grinning maniacally on
the touchline, like some poor impression of Chevy Chase in the
"National Lampoon Vacation" films, they worked out what needed
to be done to stop Mexico. In the end, it didn't take too much.
As for England, the wait for their
quarter final opponents has been agonising. Everyone thought that
the second round match for Brazil would be a formality against Belgium,
but things don't always turn out how you think. Watching some of
the game in a pub to the soundtrack supplied by the CD of Barbara
Streisand that played in the background was quite surreal. This
was made even more so, when Moby's "Play" took it's place, but
got stuck !! It really makes you appreciate Ron Atkinson.
The first half was pretty poor.
Belgium should have had a goal when Wilmots headed in, but the shirt
pulling was well spotted by the official. Brazil had the statutory
Roberto Carlos free kick go close, Rivaldo scissors kick go over and
Ronaldo did his best to poke a goal in, when he made a timely run to
meet his strike partner's cross at the near post.
Marcus was my weak link in the Brazil
side, but in this game he pout that to rest with a number of decent
saves. He is far too dramatic and keen to require attention from
the physios, but he denied Wilmots, Mpenza, Vanderheyen and Goor.
In fact, his first minute save from a speculative Mpenza cross was
perhaps the best, as he furiously back-pedalled to tip it over.
As Brazil stuttered to get going, their
goal came with a slice of luck too. Ronaldinho's cross was
chested down on the edge of the box and with one touch, Rivaldo set
himself for a shot that flicked off "little" Timmy Simons and
in. While there were more chances, they had to wait until the end
for Ronaldo to break away and slip home the second and decisive
goal. If only Goor had been so clinical with a headed opportunity
he was presented with, but he missed the ball completely and the chance
Belgium showed themselves as a well
organised outfit, who closed down the Brazilians on the ball and marked
them off it, forcing them to work to pass the ball around. It was a plan
that worked for the European side, but Brazil did show willing to work
to fond a way around it. The Belgians even found out the yellow
shirted defence, so there is hope for England. Unfortunately, they
didn't have a goal-taker to punish them and allow Waseige to show off
his "hair-combing" goal celeb !!
In the moments before the game, as
the two sides warmed up, all eyes switched from the pitch to the stands
as David Beckham arrived. Sheringham and Scholes were with him,
but if the England captain can be the centre of attention on Friday,
instead of the free scoring Brazil side, then we will all be happy.
|RESULTS : -
Second round : -
Belgium 0 Brazil 2
|INTERESTING FACT : -
USA's last clean sheet in the World Cup was in 1950 ... against England.
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
How do teams think that changing their style in the knock out stage will
get them further, when they have done well up to now ??
Koreans Keen as Mustard
Turkey's involvement in the World Cup
brought about a sea of tears in Japan, as they voted for Christmas,
while the home nation could not find the presence to go through another
stage of the competition.
The Turkish had little trouble in
disposing of their compact hosts, who started vibrantly, but faded into
the setting sun as their legs finally gave out, along with any ideas
they had to grab an equaliser. It was the shaven head of Umit
Davala that put the Japanese out after a 12th minute header that was
easy without a marker on him.
Japan created little and it was only the
naturalised Brazilian Alex's free kick that rebounded back off the bar
that gave Rustu any worries. A save from a late header and that
was about it. It left coach Troussier at times looking like he was
doing a rendition of "I'm A Little Teapot" as he got more
exasperated with their failing efforts.
In return, Turkey did make some assaults
on the Japanese goal as Basturk had a 20 yard shot fly wide and Sukur's
chip almost foxed Japanese keeper Narazaki, but he managed to get back
and hold the ball.
The home nation had given us a good
account of their play and they were worth their place in the Second
round, but they met their match in a Turkish side that was well drilled
and finally got their game together.
Which is more than can be said of Italy
after their game in Daejon against South Korea. Despite being
given a flying start by Vieri's header form a corner (similar to
Davala's), they stuttered and could not get the defensive frame of mind
out of their head.
Coming home from work, I heard on the
radio from an Italian-American on TalkSport, that Italy had been hard
done by because of some absurd refereeing decisions in this match.
On reaching home and watching the replayed match on BBC Interactive,
that proved to be nothing like what happened. The referee was the
one who had an excellent game earlier in the tournament, taking time to
watch the action on the video screen before booking players.
Although he perhaps should have taken stronger action against the Korean
who elbowed Del Piero and should not have given Totti the second yellow
card, the other decisions he made were sound.
His brave award of a penalty against
Italy in the fourth minute was a good spot. Panucci ripped the
shirt off the Seoloto's back from a corner and another defender was
doing the same behind him. Ahn stepped up to shoot the spot kick
goalwards, but Buffon made a very good diving save to his right to push
the ball away.
This did not stop the Korean side from
pressing forward with the support of a huge red swathe of fans in the
stadium behind them. They continued to go on the attack, while
Italy slipped into national stereotype and were happy to defend and hit
on the break. The tactic nearly paid off, with Vieri on the break,
hitting a right footed shot wide of the target.
This was to prove costly, as a cross from
the left saw Panucci fail to get a decent contact on the ball and it
fell for Seol Ki-Hyeon to swing his left foot at the ball and take it
past Buffon and into the net. Three minutes were left on the clock
and the Koreans had salvaged something.
But wait !! Italy broke straight
down the other end and a low cross in from the left found Vieri coming
in at the far post. With his weaker foot, he managed to sky the
ball over the bar from a couple of yards out !!
So, to extra time and the Golden
goal. But Italy's Golden Boy didn't make it to the end, being
tackled in the area, he went down and was adjudged to have
simulated. Having been booked already, he was off.
As the Korean boss - Gus Hiddink - threw
on more forwards, Trappatoni had replaced attackers with defensive
midfielders. Playing for penalties, as we saw with Spain, is not
always the best policy and so it proved. A free-kick went under
the wall and Buffon stretched to save, but it was only when goalscorer
Seol tried a back-heel on the edge of his won box that they were in
danger of conceding and then Gattuso's shot was saved by Lee in goal.
With four minutes of extra time
remaining, Ahn got in ahead of Maldini to glance his header past a
static Buffon for the Golden goal by the Golden Boy of Korean
football. The stadium went berserk, as did the whole of the
country, as they progress to meet Spain in the next round. They
were fully deserving of their win, as they went out to try and win the
game and didn't sit back like Italy. Their energy has been a
welcome style addition to the tournament and the old Danny Blanchflower
comment about "not going out there to bore the other team to
death" was never more apt.
Perhaps Italy lost the match because they
had David Schwimmer in goal and Badly Drawn Boy playing at right
back. Coco's head injury necessitating that he played the bulk of
the match with a tea cosy on his head.
While they might not win it, Korea are
where they are on merit. They will be followed by their
red-shirted supporters to the end of their campaign, while the red faced
Italians will return home to face their red fruit chucking fans ... just
like in 1966 !! Maybe that will be true for other sides in the
|RESULTS : -
Second round : -
South Korea 2
Italy 1 (After extra time - Golden Goal)
Japan 0 Turkey 1
|INTERESTING FACT : -
South Korea emulated the achievement of their Northern counterparts by
being the only Asian sides to reach the quarter finals of the World Cup.
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : - Don't
commentators talk a load of rubbish sometimes ??
|INVENTED NAME FOR THE DAY : -
"Puccini was pulling the Korean's shirt." (Peter Reid on
the Italian defender Panucci).
One Flew Over ...
Couldn't be arsed to watch the England
game. Fed up with watching football in pubs where know-nothings
shout abuse at a screen and wear their colours once every four
years. Not interested in sharing the experience with those who
take no interest in football for four years and then have to watch
"the boys'" progress and are heartbroken when they get knocked
out. Sick of the fake passion that people adopt just because the
media have hyped them up to fever pitch.
I left the car and started walking down
the road to work. It wasn't totally quiet ... more like Sunday
morning quiet, but that was shattered as shouts came from houses and the
people inside (no doubt wearing their plastic England shirts and wearing
novelty St. George Cross bowler hats) let their emotions show.
It's something that the English are not naturally good at and should
really only do so in the privacy of their own homes.
Eventually found out the score when
everyone rolled in to work. Not surprised. Didn't find out
until 18.05 that Owen scored for England and on seeing the highlights
later on, discovered how embarrassing the goal that won the match
was. Nayim, you are not alone !!
With the heat and the humidity, perhaps
it was not surprising that England could not maintain the sort of
display they put up against Argentina in the air conditioned Sapporo
Dome. The end of the game saw some ragged passing and lack of
invention to open up the yellow shirted defence. In fact, when
Owen did score, it was courtesy of a Lucio mistake. He seized on
it and finished well, but Marcos helped by going to ground quicker than
a boxer taking a dive.
Seaman probably done more to lose England
the game in colliding with S.Cumball than letting the second in.
It was Beckham's wussy jump that allowed the Brazilians to get
possession of the ball in their own half, but it was quickly transferred
to Ronaldinho, who ran at the England back line. His pass out to
Rivaldo gave him the opportunity to hit it first time past Seaman, with
The second five minutes after half time
came from the boot of the maker of the first. His free-kick curled
over Seaman and into the net, with the Gooner keeper struggling to back
pedal fast enough and then not be able to get off the ground.
If England had been able to pull
out atop draw performance, they might have pushed Brazil all the
way, but even with ten men, after Ronaldinho was sent off for an over
the top challenge on Mills, they could not break them down and the South
Americans found it easy to play against. The lack of defence
opening passes from midfield and the fragility at the back were
England's downfall. Yes, Ferdinand had a good tournament, but
Campbell was positionally naive and Cole too attack minded. The
midfield was too workmanlike in the end and it was difficult for them to
change their mode of operation. Beckham is a very good player, but
you wouldn't put him in the same class as some of the Brazilians.
Conversely, players like Rivaldo could learn something about playing the
game fairly from the English.
So, Teddy's participation came to an end,
but Christian Ziege's goes on. It was his cross that was nodded in
by Michael Ballack to give the Germans a fortunate win over the
impressive Americans. In fact, it was only Kahn who stopped the
Yanks taking the semi-final place with a string of saves. In the
first half alone, he denied Donovan twice, Lewis and O'Brien. His
second half stop from McBride went onto a post and Frings looked like he
used his arm to stop it going over the line. His last ditch save
of Sanneh's header broke the American dream of progressing further than
they had ever done before.
Joint top scorer (with Ronaldo and
Rivaldo) in the competition, Miroslav Klose, hit the post with a header
(surprise, surprise) and Neuville had an overhead kick blocked by Eddie
Lewis' face !! When Reyna lobbed over from near the halfway line
as Kahn had tried to recover his ground after racing out of his area to
clear, you had the notion that his narrow miss would be a prelude to
other chances that went begging.
|RESULTS : -
Quarter Finals : -
1 Brazil 2
USA 0 Germany 1
|INTERESTING FACT : -
The last time Brazil beat England in the World Cup Elvis Presley was
number one in the Top Ten. He is number one again now !!
|THOUGHT FOR THE DAY : -
Why does David Seaman have his name on his gloves and does his Mum sew
them in so he doesn't lose them ??