World Cup scene in Barrie

Germany’s Thomas Mueller as awarded the 2010 World Cup Golden Boot for most points scored, while Diego Forlan of Uruguay was voted the best overall player, winning the Golden Ball. Iker Casillas of Spain won the Golden Glove, for best goalkeeper. Click here for other FIFA awards.

Where to watch the World Cup in Barrie? Generally, most establishments with a TV, but pubs and bars are your best bet. The downtown theatre is showing games on the big screen

2010 World Cup ‘finals‘ match calendar
2010 World Cup groups
World Cup teams

The Beautiful Game Has Arrived

World Cup final – Spain versus Netherlands

Barrie’s downtown was awash with colour Sunday afternoon, with the dominant hue having an orange tinge.
That wasn’t enough to carry the day, though, as the red and yellow of Spain prevailed against the orange of the Netherlands, crowning a new world champion, as Spain won the game, 1-0.
It took all of full time and most of extra time for a ball to finally find its way into the back of the net, but when it did, in the 116th minute, it was off the foot of Andres Iniesta, to lift Spain to its first ever World Cup title, leaving the Dutch to win their first another day.
Downtown pubs were packed with fans of the beautiful game, many decked out in the colours of the favourite squad. The mood was light and festive, and the cheering, inoffensive.

Fans of Spain celebrate in downtown Barrie following their team's 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, to claim the World Cup

The game itself was a chippy affair, not what one might call a classic. The semifinal between Spain and Germany was much more stylish, and if truth be told, was actually the better game of the two. It might also be said the Uruguay/Germany tilt for third was also a more entertaining match.
Still, after the result there can be little doubt the Spanish are the new masters of the soccer universe – 2008 European champs, and now 2010 FIFA world champs.
Give credit where credit is due. Against the Netherlands, the Spanish were unable to duplicate their ball-control, fleet-footed, beautiful-to-watch game that proved so lethal to the Germans. Dutchmen Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder played an aggressive game, leading the Dutch attack. It wasn’t until the Dutch were reduced to 10 men, when fullback John Heitinga got his second yellow card of the game, that the tide turned and the Spanish took advantage of the development.
Fernando Torres, who had just subbed in, crossed a ball to Cesc Fàbregas, who connected with Iniesta, who drove a blast past Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
This was not the stylish, fluid play for which both sides are known. Rather, it was a terse, scrappy battled, with both sides trying to get a physical edge. Referee Howard Webb was a busy man, handing out 13 yellow cards (eight to the Netherlands and five to Spain), a record amount for a cup final.
The Netherlands had the edge on the calls, taking 28 fouls to 19 for Spain. Despite the scrappy play, both sides had chances: Robben broke in alone in the 62nd minute, but was stopped by Spanish keeper Iker Casillas. Later, in the 77th minute, Sergio Ramos rang one off the Dutch crossbar.
With the win, Spain has shaken its image as a team of immense talent that plays beautiful football, but can’t win the big games. With the Euro win in 2008, and now world champs, that myth has been shattered.
It’s the Dutch, now, with something to prove. Despite being a perennial favourite, Holland has never won the big game. They leave the tournament as runners-up, the third time they have earned that distinction.

Now there are two. After a month of World Cup action, a spectacle that commands attention, even from those not overly interested in soccer, it all comes down to this: Spain versus Netherlands, Sunday in the cup final. The game starts at 2:30, and is being carried on the main CBC network.

Who will get the Golden Boot?

Going into the final between Spain and the Netherlands, the smart money would place ‘the boot’ on the foot of either David Villa of Spain or Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands.
However, if neither ace scores, or racks up assists, the Golden Boot could go to Germany’s Thomas Mueller, who has as many goals as Villa and Sneijder, five, but holds the edge in assists.
Diego Forlan of Uruguay also has five goals.
Mueller has assisted on three goals, while the other three five-goalers have one each, meaning Villa and Sneijder would have to score in the final. If they end up tying Mueller in assists, the prize goes to the player who earned the points in the fewest minutes played.

Who will get the Golden Ball?

Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands and David Villa of Spain lead the list of FIFA’s top-10 nominations for the Golden Ball, awarded the player deemed to be the tournament’s best.
It seems likely the winner will be determined in today’s final between Spain and the Netherlands. Both have five goals, but have fewer overall points than Germany’s Thomas Mueller, who also has five goals, but leads in assists: three to one each for the other players.
Others on the list are: Arjen Robben, the Netherlands; Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, Spain; Diego Forlan, Uruguay; Asamoah Gyan, Ghana; Lionel Messi, Argentina; Mesut Oezil and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany.
Soccer journalists vote for the tournament’s best player following the final. Silver and bronze balls will also be awarded.

For all FIFA awards – Man of the Match, Golden Glove, Fair Play Award, Best Young Player Award – click here.

Germany versus Uruguay for third place

Would the presence of Thomas Mueller have made a difference in Germany’s loss to Spain in last Wednesday’s semifinal?
The young German ace was out of the game, sidelined after accumulating too many yellow cards in previous matches. Without him, Spain dominated the game with their precise toe-to-toe passing, keeping possession of the ball and denying the German attack that had proved fatal to earlier opponents, including England and Brazil.
We’ll never know, but with Mueller in the lineup, Germany wrapped up third place in the 2010 World Cup with a 3-2 win over Uruguay in a game that had thrills, chills, goals and an ending that couldn’t have been scripted.
It couldn’t have been an easy game for either team, battling to see who’d come in third. But both teams picked themselves up from the disappointment at missing the finals to deliver a high-octane brand of highly enjoyable soccer.
Mueller played a key role, stoking a whole bunch of ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ regarding his absence from the Spain/Germany tilt. Will his overall performance be enough to win him the coveted Golden Boot, awarded to the player with the most points. Will he have enough to pass David Villa, the Spanish ball artist who leads his team with five of their seven goals?
The game for third was first class all the way. Both keepers, Germany’s Joerg Butt and Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera, had to be on their toes throughout the game, turning aside numerous chances.
The winner, from Germany’s Sami Khedira, came in the 82nd minute, giving the Germans the 3-2 lead that would hold up for the rest of the match.
But Uruguay refused to simply submit. They kept pressing, and in the dying seconds of injury time, a free kick by star striker Diego Forlan rang off the German crossbar, bouncing out of harm’s way.
Can you imagine the overtime that would have resulted had the goal found its way into the net?
Despite missing the finals, Germany and Uruguay have to be pleased to have made it so far. Germany has now finished in the top three 11 times, and Uruguay advanced further than fellow South Americans, and heavily favoured, Brazil and Argentina.
Uruguay’s goals game from Forlan and Edison Cavani. Mueller and Marcell Jansen scored the others for Germany. Forlan’s goal was his fifth, tying him with Mueller, Villa, and Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands with five goals each.
The race for ‘the boot’ is a crowded field. However, if Villa and Sneijder don’t score in the final, the ‘boot’ will likely go to Mueller, who has an edge on assists.

The semifinals

Spain versus Germany

Going into the match, the ‘experts’ were saying Spain had to kick it up a notch if it was to have any chance against a steamrolling German side.
The defending European champs must have been listening because they brought their A game to the pitch, controlling the play, maintaining possession, and showing the Germans to be youthful pretenders, in an exciting, superb semifinal.
The 1-0 result puts Spain in the cup final, Sunday against the Netherlands. If they play the way they did on Wednesday, the Dutch might not be in for a treat.
It was 2008 all over again, when Spain defeated the Germans to become European champs. This time the skeptics put Germany in the driver’s seat, and after watching that side dominate their earlier opponents, it’s not hard to see why. Spain, by contrast, lost its opener to Switzerland and had scored a total of six goals, five of them by David Villa, who must now be the leading candidate for the Golden Boot, awarded to the player deemed to be the tournament’s best.
They now have seven goals, but the real story here could be the single goal Spain has allowed against it. This fleet-footed, toe-to-toe passing, fluid side is also a defensive titan.
Spain is a side that almost seems reluctant to shoot the ball, apparently wanting to finesse the ball into the net, as if anything as crude as a touch off a post, or a leg, would ruin the aesthetics of the thing. However, it must be said the winner was a beautiful play to behold: from a corner, Carles Puyol snapped a header from a corner kick into the goal in the 73rd minute.
The narrowness of the score does not do Spain’s domination justice. The score could just as easily have been three of four for Spain.
The Germans were, of course, playing without their ace, Thomas Mueller, red-carded in the game against Brazil, and out for the Spain match as a result. His presence would no doubt have helped, but truth be told, the Spanish deserved to win the game. What an absolute thing of beauty is their play when they are on their game.
And for once, the ref kept his whistle in his pocket and let the players dictate the pace, setting the stage for what has to be the best game of the tournament to date. We’re in for quite the spectacle when the 2010 World Cup wraps up Sunday.

Netherlands versus Uruguay

And then there were three. With the Netherlands heading to the 2010 World Cup final following its 3-2 win over Uruguay, Spain and Germany are the only other teams remaining in the hunt.
After today’s game (Wednesday), the dance will be set. Will it be the beautiful but flighty Spaniards, or the determined but youthful Germans? David Villa or Philipp Lahm? Who will get to face the Dutch, who are trying for their first-ever cup, despite being one of the perennial favourites.
Even though the Uruguayans are heading home, they go to meet a hero’s welcome from a nation grateful for a final-four finish, an accomplishment neither Brazil or Argentina could manage. The game was actually one of the more entertaining of the tournament, with both sides attacking. If not for the posts that seemed to have an orange tinge, the result could have been different.
Uruguay’s defense kept the mighty Dutch off the scoreboard, impressively shutting down the midfield tandem of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben. But the Dutch were not to be denied; in the 18th minute, Giovanni van Bronckhorst notched his first of the tournament, giving the Dutch a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t last long, with Diego Forlan making the score 1-1 in the 41st minute. In the last 45 minutes, however, Sneijder and Robben found the touch, with each scoring to give Holland a 3-1 lead.
Both goals needed a nudge by the post to find the back of the net.
It was a wild finish of more than four minutes of extra time, with Maximiliano Pereira making it 3-2. But that was all she wrote for the Uruguayans as the ref signalled time, sending the Dutch to the finals.
Now they wait for the winner of the Spain/Germany tilt, with the final scheduled for Sunday.

Quarterfinals – Spain versus Paraguay

In Spain’s tilt against Paraguay, the defending European champions kept their fans on the edges of their seats, playing a rather uninspired match against an opponent they should have handled, if not easily then certainly decisively. Instead, it wasn’t until David Villa’s 83rd tally that Spanish finally took hold of the game. That was enough to ensure victory.
So now Spain, the team that plays a beautiful brand of the beautiful game, has its first-ever World Cup semifinal perch. But they will have to do a lot better if they are to advance against a German side which is firing on all cylinders, a young team that not only ended England’s pretensions, but Brazil’s as well.
Any side that beats Brazil has to be considered the odds-on favourite. Spain will need to leave its best game on the field if it has any chance at advancing to the finals.
The Spain/Paraguay game turned on many twists. The defensive minded South Americans choked the Spanish attack, nullifying many of their best players. Luck, as it were, was on the Spanish side, however, with a 41st minute goal by Nelson Valdez called back due to an offside.
The game featured an unlikely spin on penalty shots. A shot by Paraguayan Cardozo was blocked, and just a minute later, at the other end, Villa was awarded a penalty kick. He put the ball into the net, but the goal was called back because one of the Spaniards entered the box before Villa kicked the ball. The second time proved unlucky, as Villa’s shot was stopped.
Spain has lost a mere three of its last 55 games, and is ranked second in the world. That might not be enough, though; the first-ranked team, Brazil, is out and already home, and on Wednesday, Spain meets the crew that sent the pre-tournament favourites packing.

Germany versus Spain

Don’t cry for me, Argentina, the great Maradona might be crooning, but there’s little doubt Germany’s drubbing of the renowned Argentines brought many tears to shocked fans, near and far.
Who would have thought the Argentines would have followed fellow South Americans Brazil home, after being sent packing in a 4-0 rout by a German side that only seems to grow stronger?
There’s very little of the German game that can be criticized. They attacked ferociously, and defend tenaciously. Their goaltending is superb. They are a young side that seems to have a step up on all their opponents, and it’s hard not to think of them going to the finals.
This is a very good side; previous incarnations advanced to the semis in 2006 and to the finals in 2002. Arguable, this year’s team is even better than those earlier squads.
The Argentines might be inclined to agree. The score is nothing other than an embarrassment for the team, and for Diego Maradona himself, who had much riding on Argentine success at the 2010 World Cup.
German goals were scored by Miroslav Klose, with two, and Thomas Mueller, the 20-year-old ace that’s burning up the pitch. Arne Friedrich scored the other. The Argentine goals were scored by … oh yeah, they didn’t score any.
A sour note for Germany: Mueller will miss the semifinal against Spain due to a yellow card handed out in the Argentine match.

Quarterfinals – Netherlands versus Brazil

When Arjen Robben returned to the Dutch lineup last game after a tournament-long absence due to a hamstring injury, there was open speculation that his ‘Mr. Floppy’ routine would backfire, and refs would ignore real fouls against the player.
So renowned is he for the frequency of his dives in search of a call, observers wondered whether the tactic would backfire.
It hasn’t yet, and Robben proved a force to be reckoned with in Holland’s 2-1 win over the pre-tournament favourites, Brazil. He drew call after call as the Brazilians seemed to bring him down regularly. The ref, much to his credit, called the challenges, most of which were legitimate fouls.
The Brazilians went up 1-0 in the first half on a goal from Robinho. The game seemed to be following a set script, but the Dutch were having none of that. Following an own-goal by Felipi Melo, the Dutch pressed forward, rewarded by a tally by ace Wes Sneijder, the man of the game.
Melo furthered damaged Brazil’s chances when he was red-carded, and sent off forcing Brazil to play with 10 men.

Round of death, June 29

Spain versus Portugal

Spain is one step closer to a spot in the World Cup final following its 1-0 win over archrival Portugal.
The Spanish side would seem to have the advantage over other quarterfinal teams as it meets Paraguay, while Brazil gets to dance with the Dutch, Germany tangos with Argentina, and Uruguay meets Ghana.
Even though the score was slim, the Spanish cruised to the win. Their fleet-footed, pass-oriented, talent-laden game was on display; they are a side that makes it look easy, and fun.
David Villa lived up to his billing and in the 63rd minute netted the goal that sends Spain to the final eight for the first time since 1992. The 2008 European champs are getting closer to notching the double-whammy.
It was a wildly entertaining game by two attack-focused teams. The action was end to end. However, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo again failed to live up to his billing as one of the best in the world; he has yet to prove his mettle with the national team.
Villa, by contrast, picked up his forth tally of the tournament.

Paraguay versus Japan

It was a horrible way to lose, putting way too much pressure on one player who no doubt feels the weight of a disappointed nation.
Japan lost an entertaining and evenly fought game to Paraguay 1-0 in the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup. Paraguay won the game on penalty kicks following extra time. The Japanese only missed one of their five kicks, but it was the one that counted.
On the third penalty kick for Japan, Junichi Inamoto rang one off the crossbar. His dismay was visible for all to see, as he was led off the field in the comforting embrace of teammates.
So, another South American team goes through to the quarterfinals while all the Asian teams have been sent packing.
This is rapidly becoming a South American/European challenge, with only Ghana from Africa remaining in the hunt.
Japan has to be heading home with its head held high. Not many were expected much from the team that had never won an international match away from home soil. Yet they almost advanced to the quarterfinals, and that will silence many, if not all, of the detractors.

Round of death, June 28

Brazil versus Chile

With Brazil’s 3-0 blanketing of Chile, the cream is steadily rising to the top at the 2010 World Cup.
The Samba Kings join the men in orange as being undefeated, going three for three in group action, with the fourth coming against Chile in the round of death. Earlier, Holland notched its fourth with a win over Slovakia.
Before the game it was thought that Chile might at least present a challenge for the favoured Brazilians, but it was not to be as the Chileans proved to be no match for their South American cousins.
Of course, all the South American teams are so good that it takes a better team from the continent to knock one out of the tournament. Chile is the first of five nations from South America to exit the World Cup.
Juan, Luis Robinho and Fabiano bulged the twine for the winners. They advance to the quarterfinals, where they will meet their biggest challenge, the Netherlands. Now that will be a fantastic game.
The quality of play is only going to get better, as the best teams advance and the rest drop by the wayside. With the Spain/Portugal tilt set for Tuesday afternoon, another of the world’s best will be on the sidelines, with the winner a credible choice to compete for the trophy.

Netherlands versus Slovakia

No surprise here as the Dutch moved on to the quarter finals with a 2-1 win over Slovakia in 2010 World Cup ‘group of death’ action.
The Netherlands continued their dominant play, now unbeaten in all four of their tournament games. It looks like it will take a mighty side to keep the Dutch from reaching the finals.
Arjen Robben led the orange men on their way to the predictable result against a surprising and determined Slovakian side. But this is a team with so many cylinders firing any team they meet will be hard pressed to defeat them. It’s all working for the Dutch, with no part of their game suspect.
Robben, a winger for Champions League champs Bayern Munich, led his team, coming back from a hamstring injury that put him on the sidelines during the Netherlands final qualifying game against Hungary, June 5.
The fleet-footed Dutchman is known as a bit of a ‘tumbler,’ ready to hit the pitch with the slightest of challenges. Whether or not he gets carded for his antics, or whether a real challenge is ignored, could be a source of trouble for the Dutch – or perhaps not.
Robben and Wesley Sneijder scored for the Dutch while Robert Vittek replied for the Slovaks.

Up next

The Netherlands meet the winner of the Brazil/Chile game

Round of death – June 27

England versus Germany

It was a game that presented one of the most compelling arguments for video replay, one in which England was played off the field in a 4-1 rout by the Germans.
If the match, finally, convinces officials to adopt video replay, it will have made a difference, although that won’t do much to console English fans who hoped their team could shake off the doldrums and find the winning touch against the Germans.
German goals came from Thomas Mueller, with two, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. Matthew Upson replied for England.
England’s Frank Lampard should have had one, ringing a blast off the crossbar. However, it was his other ‘should have been’ that drew howls of protest from English fans, and renewed calls for video replay.
In the 38th minute Lampard drove a shot at the goal, which hit the crossbar and bounced down, clearly behind the goal line by what looked to be at least two feet. It was ruled no goal.
So instead of heading into intermission with the score tied 2-2, it remained 2-1. Who knows what psychological effect that might have had on the English, but the second half was totally dominated by the Germans.
Those with long memories, or a good knowledge of the game, might call it sweet justice. In 1966, when England won the World Cup, a similar call went for the English in the final against the Germans – a shot hit the crossbar, bounced down but didn’t cross the goal line. That one was ruled a goal, and the English went on to win the cup.
Even though the English were clearly robbed, the call’s impact on the final score might not have been that great. Simply put, the Germans were the better side. They played with cold precision and dismantled the English defense time and time again.
It’s back to the drawing board for England, and that probably starts with a search for a new coach. For the Germans, the young, skilled squad fielded at this tournament should have legs for years to come.

Up next

Germany plays the winner of Spain/Mexico

Round of death – June 26 games

Ghana versus USA

African hopes for World Cup triumph lives on following Ghana’s 2-1 win over USA Saturday in the opening game of the ‘round of death.’
There would be no more late-game salvation for the Americans, who advanced to the second after scoring an extra-time marker in its tilt with Algeria. Instead, it was Ghana’s turn for miracles, with Asamoah Gyan netting the winner in the 93rd minute of the game.
The Black Stars are the only remaining African team n the tournament, and carry the soccer hopes of a continent with them. It also puts an African team into the quarterfinals for the first time since Senegal in 2002; the only other nation to make it that far was Cameroon in 1990.
The Americans came into the tournament eager to show the soccer world that they had arrived on the world scene and were ready to compete for the cup. Many people the Stars and Stripes had the stuff to progress as far as the semis, and perhaps further. Alas, it was not to be.
The other Ghana’ goal was scored by Kevin-Prince Boateng. The American tally was collected by Landon Donovan on a penalty kick.

Up next

Ghana plays Uruguay in the quarters.

Uruguay versus South Korea

The apparent South America n domination of the 2010 World continues with Uruguay’s 2-1 victory over South Korea in second-round action.
All of the South American teams are still in the hunt, with Argentina the next team up, today against Mexico.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez picked up a pair for the winning side while Lee Chung-yong scored for the Koreans

Up next

Uruguay meets Ghana

June 25 games

Spain versus Chile

The universe, it seems, is unfolding as it should, as least in the soccer world, as Spain moves on to the ‘round of death’ following its 2-1 win over Chile.
Don’t cry for Chile, though, as it also advances after Switzerland came up short against Honduras, in a scoreless draw. A win by the Swiss would have tied them with Chile at six, along with Spain, and it would have been done to goal differential.
The Spanish are starting to look like the side that won the European championship in 2008. Beautiful to watch, when their game is clicking, the Spanish toss the ball around in quick, accurate passes, setting up some lovely goals.
Forward David Villa scored both for the Spanish side, while Rodrigo Millar netted one for the Chileans.

Up next

Chile meets Brazil on Monday; Spain meets Portugal Tuesday.

Brazil versus Portugal

What happens when two of the best teams in the world meet on the pitch of soccer supremacy? When both sides have already advanced to the second round, not a heck of a lot.
In a World Cup Group G snooze fest, Brazil and Portugal yawned their way to the scoreless draw. Brazil ended up atop the group with seven points, and Portugal has five. North Korea and the Ivory Coast are out.
As has so often happened at this World Cup, the refereeing had a hand in dampening the game. Rather than letting these sides play and put on a dazzling display of soccer, Mexican ref Benito Archundia handed out seven yellow cards, notably slowing the match.
Also, Brazilian superstar Kaka was on the sidelines because of a red card in the last game, and that nullified a possible showdown between him and Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Up next

Brazil meets Chile on Monday; Portugal meets Spain Tuesday.

Switzerland versus Honduras

Switzerland needed to come up with a huge game against Honduras to advance to the second round, but it couldn’t get it down.
Rather, the game ended in a scoreless draw and the Swiss joined Honduras on the sidelines. It has to come as a disappointment for the Swiss who had high hopes after beating Spain in the group stage.
If the Swiss could somehow have managed a two-goal win over the Hondurans they would have moved onto the second round. Instead they came up flat. Despite having some good scoring chances, they couldn’t finish around the net and that lack of finesse proved deadly.
The game called for passion and playing on the edge, but the Swiss looked dull and uninspired, their play full of holes. The Hondurans had the better chances, and if lady luck had smiled their way, they could have been up two.
Instead, both sides are heading home.

North Korea versus Ivory Coat

North Korea, mercifully, is heading home, and Ivory Coast, sadly, joins yet another African team to bow out of the 2010 World Cup.
Just getting through the game without getting shellacked as it did against Portugal was a victory for the Koreans, who nonetheless must be pleased just to have gotten to the tournament.
Despite winning 3-0, Ivory Coast is out, needing a bonanza of goals to catch the Portuguese, who netted seven goals against the Koreans. The Ivory Coast needed a nine-goal victory, and not even the Koreans were that inept.

June 24 games

Italy versus Slovakia

The recriminations, finger pointing, and general wailing have already begun following Italy’s hasty exit from World Cup play at the hands of Slovakia.
In truth, even though Italy seemed to snooze through the first, it had plenty of chances to win the game, and very nearly did, first coming back from a 2-0 deficit to 2-1, then from a 3-1 tally, to end the game 3-2.
If only they had played the first half the way they did the second, it might have been the Italians going through with Paraguay.
The group was wide open at the start of play, with even New Zealand having a shot at advancing if it could somehow defeat Paraguay, which in the end it couldn’t. The game was the Italians to lose, and lose it they did.
It’s an unceremonious exit for the reigning world champs, who join France as another top tier team to make an early exit. The game, except for the second half when the Italians came alive with flair, skill, creativity and a touch of panic, followed the script of the previous two, where they looked … uninspired.
The second half showed the Italians as a team that should have gone through. Where was that side for the rest of the tournament?
Slovak Robert Vittek had a tremendous game, scoring two for his side. Kamil Kopunek’s marker in the 89th minute sealed Italy’s fate. It was a lovely goal – Kopunek caught up with a throw-in and chipped a shot over the head of Italian keeper Federico Marchetti.
Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Quagliarella scored for the Italians.

Up Next
Slovakia plays the winner of Group E in second (round of death) round action.

Paraguay versus New Zealand

It was always a daunting task for the Kiwis, but despite being eliminated from further 2010 World Cup play, New Zealand can say they gave it their best and didn’t lie down like lambs for the slaughter.
The Kiwis were held to a scoreless draw by Paraguay, eventual winners of Group F. When Chile qualifies, which it is almost certain to do, all South American teams have now qualified for the tournament’s second round, the so-called ‘round of death.’
The New Zealand/Paraguay match was a tad uninspiring with Paraguay seemingly going through the paces and the Kiwis seeing their foes’ net as if through a telephoto lens – it was way at the far end of the field for most of the time. Indeed, the Kiwis managed a pitiful four shots, none of them on goal.
Despite heading home, the Kiwis did their nation proud, tying all three of their games against opponents who should have blown the doors off the upstarts.

Up next

Paraguay meets the second-place team of Group of Group E

The Netherlands versus Cameroon

Orange was perfect in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup, and now they get to test their mettle in the round of death.
In a meaningless game, except perhaps for pride for Cameroon, the Dutch wrapped up their opening games with their third victory, 2-1 over the African side. In doing so, Holland became the second team to sweep the competition – the other being Argentina.
The Dutch have now gone 22 international matches without a loss: 17 wins and five draws. They remain one of the favourites to win the cup, and with France and Italy bowing out early, the road to the final is less cluttered.
Cameroon ends its campaign without a win. Of all the African teams entered, only Ghana remains to carry the continent’s hopes.
Robin van Pierse’ scored in the 36th minute to put Holland on the scoreboard. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored what proved to be the winner in the 83rd minute. Samuel Eto’o scored for Cameroon.

Up next
The Dutch meet Japan in the second round.

Japan versus Denmark

The team that had never won an international match off its home soil is now going through to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
Japan defeated Denmark 3-1 in Group E action, advancing with the Netherlands, which finished atop the group.
Keisuke Honda and Yusuhito Endo knocked in a couple of terrific free-kick goals for the winning side, while Shinji Okazaki got the third in the 87th minute. The Japanese played a conservative game, but an effective one, largely with the same lineup as the other games.
Jon Dahl Tomasson scored on a penalty kick in the 81st minute for Denmark.

Up next

Japan meets Paraguay in the second round.

June 23 games

England versus Slovenia

Merry old England is a lot merrier now that its much maligned soccer squad has advanced to the second round at the 2010 World Cup, after defeating Slovenia 1-0
For much of the match the outcome was unclear, and remained so until the dying seconds when it became obvious Slovenia would not tie the game, earning a place for itself in the second round.
Going into the match Slovenia led Group C with four points, followed by England and USA with two, and Nigeria with one. If Slovenia had managed a tie, it would have gone through. A win by England, however, left Slovenia with four, while the winners went through with five.
USA also went through with a 1-0 win over Nigeria, courtesy of an extra-time goal.
England continued to have difficulty finding the net for much of the match, missing a couple of quality chances, including one rapped off the post by Wayne Rooney. The English ace remains scoreless in World Cup play, and suffered the ignominy of being replaced halfway through the second by John Cole.
The English were a much better side than in their two previous games. They attacked the ball and defended aggressively. The score could have been 3-0 as easy as 1-0. Striker Jermain Defoe was particularly effective and dangerous, scoring the only goal of the match, but having several other chances.

Up next

England plays the winner of the Germany/Ghana tilt.

Germany versus Ghana

Germany secured a spot in the second round today with a 1-0 victory over Ghana. Don’t feel too sorry for the Africans, however, as they also qualified.
Instead, you might want to feel for the Aussies, out despite beating Serbia 2-1.
The German landed atop Group D action with six points, following by Ghana with four. The Socceroos also had four, but lost on goal aggregate to Ghana.
The German/Ghana tilt featured action aplenty, passions in full flower, determination and – sibling rivalry. Half-brothers Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jerome Boateng, in a history making moment, suited up against each other for their respective teams, with the former playing for Ghana.
Both were born in Germany to the same Ghanaian father and different mothers. Kevin-Prince played for Germany before switching sides last year.
The Germans by no means manhandled the Africans, who played well enough for at least a single point. It was not to be, but no matter as they become the first African team to move through.
Mesut Oezil scored for the Germans in the 60th minute.

Up next

The Germans take on England in the do-or-die second round, 10 a.m. local time Sunday.

USA versus Algeria

The Stars and Stripes are still fluttering in South Africa following an extra-time goal that gave the Americans a 1-0 win over Algeria, and a place in the second round.
For almost the entire match it looked grim for the USA. But Landon Donovan’s goal in stoppage time rescued the Americans hopes for glory in South Africa.
It wasn’t for want of trying, but repeatedly Algerian goalie Rais M’bohli stymied the Americans, who also showed a decidedly sloppy lack of finish around the net. But ‘old glory’ lives on to fight another day.
The Americans actually finished atop Group C, tied with England but ahead because of goals for.
Both squads had chances to take the lead throughout this thoroughly entertaining match, including Algerian Rafik Djebbour’s blast off the crossbar just six minutes in. The Americans fell victim to a suspect call that ruled a Clint Dempsey goal offside.
As the clock ran down, it seemed the Americans were fated to have an early exit. Then Donavan, with minutes left in the game, caught a rebound and hammered it home, sending the Yanks into the second round.

Up next

The USA plays Ghana

Australia versus Serbia

It was a match they had to win. And win it they did. But if wasn’t enough.
The Socceroos are out of World Cup action. But they leave with heads held high following a surprise 2-1 win over Serbia.
The game was Serbia’s to lose, and that’s what they did. The Serbs entered the match with three points in Group D action. A tie, with a good goal count, might have pushed them into the second round. A win certainly would have.
The Serbs went on the attack early, with most of the chances in the first half, forcing Aussie tender Mark Schwarzer to come up with some major saves. However, Tim Cahill Brett Holman scored in the second half, four minutes apart, to put the Aussies up, and fuel their aspirations.
They came close to getting a couple more goals, which they needed to advance. It was not to be. In the end, the four goals Germany scored against Australia in the tournament opener, and the Aussies failure to reply, cost them dearly.

June 22 games

Argentina plays Greece

With its 2-0 win over Greece, which could have been much bigger if not for missed chances and heroic goaltending, Argentina is living up to its billing.
The win puts one of the favourites to win the big enchilada atop Group B action with the door to the second round blown right off its hinges. The squad not only won all these of its group stages game, they are getting better each time out.
The loss puts Greece out of the World Cup. The team that won the 2004 European Cup look tired, stale and totally outgunned against the quicker, better, more entertaining Argentines.
The Greeks only managed three shots on net and played almost the entire match in their own end, trying to keep the ball out of their net. The strategy seemed to be going quite well, actually, that is until Martin Demichelis, with 13 minutes left in regulation time, hammered a shot past Greek keeper Alexandros Tzorvas, who was absolutely brilliant between the pipes.
Martin Palermo scored the second while the game was in extra time.

Up next

Argentina plays Mexico, runner-up in Group

Mexico versus Uruguay

Despite losing its final game in group action at the 2010 World Cup, Mexico is through to the second round, along with Uruguay, who won the tilt 1-0
The South Africans went out on a high, beating France 2-1 and mercifully putting an end to the shambles that is France at this World Cup. But the win wasn’t enough to vault South Africa over the Mexicans into the second round.
The win is bittersweet for South Africa, which becomes the first host nation not to make it out of the group stage in the tournament’s 80-year history. It was close, though, with both Mexico and South Africa finishing with four points. Both had three goals, but the Mexicans went through with fewer goals against, two to South Africa’s five.
Luis Suarez scored for the Uruguayans. The game was an entertaining, go-for-the-win affair. It could have been otherwise, with each side ‘playing’ for the tie. The order of the day was aggressive, offensive soccer from both sides. Their determination to not play it safe is a credit to their sport, their fans and to good sportsmanship.

Up next

Uruguay meets the second-place team from Group B; Mexico plays the Group B winner.

South Korea versus Nigeria

Yet another African team was eliminated from World Cup action following a 2-2 draw against South Korea.
The Koreans advance to the second round.
The Nigerians didn’t go out without a fight, going up first in the game with a goal by Kalu Uche in the 12th minute. Korea got the next two, before Nigeria tied the score on a second-half penalty by Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
Jung-Soo Lee and Chu-Young Park scored the goals for Korea.
Nigeria joins Cameroon and host South Africa on the sidelines of the tournament, which had been billed as showcase for African soccer prowess.

Up next

South Korea meets Uruguay, winner of Group A

France versus South Africa

Mercifully, the shambles that is the French team at the 2010 World Cup can shuffle off to Parish following its elimination at the hands of host South Africa.
South Africa finished on a high, despite being eliminated from the tournament, with a 2-1 defeat of France in Group A action. Both South African goals came in the first half, more than enough to trump a depleted French team, reduced to 10 men after Yoann Gourcuff took a red card, and game ejection, following an elbow on Macbeth Sibaya.
Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela scored for the South Africans, with Florent Malouda scoring midway through the second half of the game. Incredibly, it was to be France’s only goal of the tournament.
With South Africa on the attack and the French back on their heels, the crowd came alive, happy to see their team win, if not advance. The French campaign flamed out in spectacular fashion following antics on the practice field that brought widespread recriminations from French soccer officials, fans and politicians.
The early departure is all the more glaring given that France was in the final in 2006, losing to Italy. They won the World Cup in 1998, but also departed early in 2002.

Up next

Both teams are hanging up their boots for the 2010 World Cup.

June 21 games

Spain versus Honduras

They play a lovely version of the beautiful game. Even in defeat they make it look effortless.
Monday, in Group H action, Spain eased to a 2-0 victory over Honduras, resurrecting their World Cup hopes following a surprising defeat to the Swiss.
The Spanish play a light, playful, brand of football that literally bristles with youthful zeal. At times is seems the players are reluctant to shoot until the perfect pass releases the perfect goal. It really is a beauty to behold, even when it doesn’t work.
Even better when one star of the constellation stands out as did David Villa, who scored both Spanish markets. He’s nicknamed El Guaje (The Kid), but he’s the one who brought a lesson with him.
The Spanish could have connected on a couple more, had the shot more and passed less. But that would have spoiled the beauty of the thing – the art in motion.
Both dominant and graceful, the Spain that was touted as a serious contender to win the big show hit the pitch running, and didn’t slow down. Their mastery is evident in every part of the game. Can you imagine this side meeting Brazil, or Argentina or Portugal? What a game that would be.
Chile sits atop the group with six points, followed by Spain and Switzerland with three each, and Honduras with zero. Spain meets Chile on Friday, and a win or tie, followed by a loss or a tie by Switzerland, would send Spain and Chile through to the second round.

Up next

Spain plays Chile, June 25; Honduras meets Switzerland the same day.

Portugal versus North Korea

Call it a David and Goliath match where the big bruiser’s speed, size and skill overwhelm the upstart’s valiant attempts to change the way of things. Call it anything you want, it won’t change 7-0 drubbing North Korea took at the hands of Portugal.
The lopsided win moved Portugal closer to qualifying for second-round action. Brazil sits atop Group G with six points, followed by Portugal with four. A tie in its next game, against Brazil will assure it a place in the second round, as will a loss by Ivory Coast, which faces North Korea in its next game
Clearly, Portugal has the tougher road. But having already qualified, the Samba Kings may be inclined to take a breather on this game, with Portugal benefiting from the tactic.
If Portugal and Ivory Coast remain tied in points at the end of the group round, the seven goals against North Korea will come in handy.
The floodgates opened for the Portuguese who struggled to a 0-0 draw against the Ivory Coast. In doing so, Portugal completely decimated the Korean’s stifling defensive play, seemingly scoring at will.
The final tally was not only the most goals Portugal has scored in a single game in international play, it was the most a single team has scored in a World Cup match – ever.
Cristiano Ronaldo put on a display that showcased his skills as a brilliant playmaker and scorer, proving, yet again, he remains one of the best in the world.
The savaging ended North Korea’s brief World Cup experience. They have one more game, but they have been officially eliminated, following Cameroon as the second team out.
Raul Meireles, Simao Sabrosa, Tiago (with two), Almeida, Liedson and Ronaldo scored for Portugal.

Up next

Portugal plays Brazil, June 25; North Korea plays the Ivory Coast the same day.

Switzerland versus Chile

If you enjoy games where the officials have a big hand in determining the outcome, you would have loved the Chile/Switzerland match, won by Chile 1-0.
The ref handed out nine yellows and one red during the match, with the red card going to Switzerland’s Valon Behrami, who, admittedly, was a little liberal with his elbow, but paid dearly for a delicate brush to the Chilean.
With the win Chile has six points after two wins, and sits atop Group H in World Cup play. The win was secured in the 79th minute when Mark Gonzalez headed in a cross from Esteban Paresdes, finally solving the stingy Swiss.
The Swiss refused to give up, despite playing with 10 men, and very nearly tied the score late in the game. In extra time, Eren Derdiyok hoofed one just wide of an open Chilean net.
It’s still possible for the Swiss to qualify. They have three points after two games, including the big win against Spain, but it’s largely dependent on what Spain does in its remaining two games. Two wins will give Spain six points; another win will give Switzerland the same, and then it might come down to stats, including goals.
If Chile wins or ties its next game, it is through to the second round. If not, it could set up a three-way tie for first, if Spain and Switzerland win their remaining games.

Up next

Chile plays Spain, June 25 in what is surely to be a must-win game for Spain; Switzerland also has a must-win match against Honduras the same day.

June 20 games

Call it Kiwi fever or New Zealand lambs not going to slaughter, but the other crew from ‘down under’ very nearly handed reigning world champs Italy a heap of heartache.
As it was, Azzurri needed a controversial penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw against the surprising Kiwis, who have two ties and sit tied with Italy in Group F action, with two points each. Paraguay leads the group with four points following its 2-0 win over Slovakia.
The result will have them dancing in the streets in Auckland and drowning their sorrows in Rome. The fact it took a penalty kick to avoid ignominious defeat will sour the wine even further.
The stats tell the tale, in part, because the beauty of sports is its unpredictability. And who could have predicted this outcome. Italy, ranked fifth in the world, humbled by New Zealand, ranked – 78th.
The Italians looked tired and aged, a pale shadow of the team which won the World Cup four years ago. The search is on for a culprit, and increasingly the gaze is landing on captain Fabio Cannavaro, with cries mounting to bench the 36-year-old defender.
Whether coach Marcello Lippi makes such a bold move won’t be known until Italy’s next match, but it’s clear something has to be done or the champs will be making a quick exit.
New Zealand put Azzurri on notice when Shane Smeltz scored in the seventh minute. The tying tally came courtesy of a penalty called against Tommy Smith, for a foul on Daniele De Rossi. Vincenzo Iaquinta found the back of the net. The match turned the Italians way, but they couldn’t find the winning goal.
The penalty was controversial. While Smith tugged on De Rossi’s shirt, it wasn’t enough to send the Italian diving to the ground, but it was enough to get the call – one, by the way, which is rarely called.
All four teams remain alive in Group F action.

Up next

Italy plays Slovakia, June 24; New Zealand faces Paraguay the same day.

Brazil versus Ivory Coast

What’s it going to take to get video replay in professional soccer? How many more times will the action be sidelined by on-field antics.
Near the end of the Brazil/Ivory Coast tilt, with the Africans losing 3-1 and heading for sure defeat and eventual elimination, a dive and performance that might have brought a Tony saw Samba King Kaka ejected from the game after he casually brushed Abdul Keita’s chest, a move that sent the African to the grass, holding his face and rolling about as if he had been shot.
Does FIFA really want their star players subject to this kind of performance, and removed from the field of action? It was a disgraceful and embarrassing affair. Didier Drogba scored for Ivory Coast in the 79th minute, while Luis Fabiano punched the third home for the Kings.

Up next

Brazil plays Portugal, June 25; Ivory Coast plays North Korea the same day.

Paraguay versus Slovakia

It has been a World Cup full of surprises, with one of the biggest being the play of the Paraguayans.
Now, with a 2-0 win over Slovakia, the South American squad has a good shot at progressing to the second round.
The road is not clear, with its next game against the Kiwis, on a high after an emotional tie with reigning champs Italy. But they will take into the game a freewheeling and possession-control style of game. The Kiwis can be expected to put forth a mostly defensive effort, so it will be an interesting contest.
Enrique Vera and Cristian Riveros scored for Paraguay.

Up next

Slovakia plays Italy, June 24; Paraguay plays New Zealand the same day.

June 19 games

Denmark versus Cameroon

Cameroon was served up some Danish in Group E World Cup action, losing 2-1 on route to being the first nation eliminated from the tournament.
Touted as one of Africa’s best hopes for soccer success, Cameroon has fans all across the continent. Its success was Africa’s success. Now, the task falls to Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Algeria. Host South Africa is all but eliminated from the tournament.
The first goal of the game came in the 61st minute after Cameroon turned over the ball. The Danes capitalized on the error, with Rommedahl curving a wicked ball past keeper Hamidou Souleymanou.
Cameroon had actually gone up in the match in the 10th minute of the match when Samuel Eto’o made good on a defensive error by Christian Poulsen. However, the lead was short, as But Nicklas Bendtner got one for the Danes in the 31st minute.

Next up

Japan plays Denmark June 24; the Dutch play Cameroon the same day.

Netherlands versus Japan

It only takes one to win, and that’s what the Dutch got in their 1-0 defeat of Japan in World Cup Group E action.
The Dutch were without their star winger for the second game in a row – Arjen Robben is still recovering from a hamstring. Perhaps against a tougher opponent, he would be missed. But the Dutch still managed to win against a Japanese team that played a stifling brand of defensive play.
It has been an easy run for the Dutch, so far. A perennial soccer superpower the boys in orange were expected to go through to the second round, competing for the cup.
Still, the going was slow for most of the game as the Dutch tried to crack the Japanese defense. They finally did so in the 53rd minute when Wesley Sneijder potted the winner following a defensive lapse by the Japanese.

Up next

Japan plays Denmark June 24: the Dutch meet Cameroon the same day.

Australia versus Ghana

Down but not out, Australia battled to a 1-1 draw with Ghana in World Cup Group D action, sweet vindication for the Aussies, decimated 4-0 in their opener with Germany.
To make it even sweeter the Socceroos played a good portion of the game a man down, courtesy of a red card to Harry Kewel, just 13 minutes into the game. He committed a hand ball inside the box, and the ensuing penalty shot by Asamoah Gyan found the back of the net.
The lads from Down Under were already challenged with the absence of midfielders Tim Cahill, tossed from the game following a red card in the match against Germany, and Vince Grella, suffering from a knee injury.
The result keeps Australia’s World Cup hopes alive.
The game got off to a rocking start for the Socceroos when Ghana keeper Richard Kingson muffed a free kick, leaving Brett Holman to reach the ball and hammer it home. However, a mere two minutes later the red card arrived, and it looked as if fate had decided to call it a day for Australia.
The Ghanaians poured it on, sensing victory. It was not to be as a determined Australia dug deep to find defensive resolve.
After Germany’s stunning loss to Serbia, all four teams in the group have a shot at advancing. Ghana leads the group with four points, Germany and Serbia have three, and the Down Underers have one.

Up next

Ghana play Germany on Wednesday; Australia meets Serbia the same day.

June 18 games

England versus Algeria

If England is to progress beyond the opening stages of the 2010 World Cup it will have to do better than the lackluster effort it display in a 0-0 contest against Algeria.
The English came into the tournament as one of its heavy weights, given a solid change of a last making it to the semifinals. If it doesn’t pull up its socks, the lads from Ole Blighty will be heading home sooner than later.
And they don’t even have the WAGs hear to blame for their poor performance. If you’ll recall, the wives and girlfriends took a lot of heat in the 2006 World Cup for keeping the attention of the players … elsewhere.
The English side has scored one goal in its two games, coming in the 1-1 tilt against the USA. Despite the poor display on he pitch, their future remains in their own hands due to the standing in Group C.
With Slovenia’s 2-2 tie against the USA and its earlier win against Algeria, the smallest nation at the World Cup finds itself atop the group, with four points. England and USA are next, tied with two points each. Algeria trails the field, with one point.
A win against Slovenia will move England into the second round. To do hat, however, its highly regarded stars will need to find the back of the next.

Up next

Slovenia plays England, June 23; USA meets Algeria the same day.

USA versus Slovenia

It took all of regulation time to do it, but the Americans salvaged their World Cup hopes in the 82nd minute of the match with Slovenia, to pull a 2-2 tie out of the fire.
When Michael Bradley scored a sigh or relief no doubt went up among American fans in South Africa and at home, realizing they might not lose a game to the smallest nation competing at the 2010 World Cup.
After they had tied powerhouse England in their opening game, many observers claimed the result was proof positive the Yanks were here to stay, the here being the upper echelon of soccer nations.
Slovenia very nearly succeeded in knocking them back a peg. Had they won the game, the Americans would have had a steep hill to climb to qualify for second-round action. A loss would have left them with a single point, needing a win in the third and final match, and at the mercy of the results of other games.
As it is, they find themselves with two points, while Slovenia is in first place with four, courtesy of their win over Algeria. The Yanks still face an uphill climb, most certainly needing a win over Algeria.
Where there was despair, there is now hope for the Americans. And where there was joy, there is now a sense of disbelief for the Slovenians.
The Americans staged a valiant comeback, after finding themselves down 2-0 after 42 minutes. Slovak goals came from Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic. Landon Donovan and Bradley replied for the Americans.

Up next

Slovenia plays England, June 23; USA meets Algeria the same day.

Germany versus Serbia

The surprises keep rolling at the World Cup in South Africa, with middling soccer power Serbia downing the mighty Germans 1-0 in Group D action.
The result is additionally surprising given the Germans domination of Australia in its opener, when it downed the Socceroos 4-0. There was little reason to suspect Serbia wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
The Germans were, however, at a disadvantage. Leading scorer Miroslav Klose was carded in the 36th minute, and sent off for the match, as it was his second yellow card of the match. He’ll miss the next game due to his transgression. In all, the ref handed out nine yellow cards.
A mere two minutes later Milan Jovanovic scored what proved to be the game winner. The Germans had a marvelous chance to tie the game on a penalty kick, but Lukas Podolski couldn’t put it past Serbian keeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Despite the loss the Germans should have little trouble advancing. The Serbs have a tougher road, facing an Australian team with its back to the wall.

Up next

Germany plays Ghana June 23; Serbia meets Australia the same day.

June 17 games

Mexico versus France

In one of the World Cup’s most entertaining games so far, Mexico resurrected its second-round aspirations, and hammered France’s, with a 2-0 win in Group A action.
The win puts Mexico in a first-place tie with Uruguay, with four points each. The Mexicans can secure a spot in the second round with a tie in their next games, against Uruguay.
France, meanwhile, is at the mercy of the fickle winds of soccer, needing the competition to lose as well as them to win.
The Mexicans were on the ball right from the start, having the edge over France in both urgency and opportunity. Their efforts finally paid off in the 66th minute, when Javier Hernandez found the back of the net.
In the 81st minute, Pablo Barrera was tripped inside the French boxed, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco converted the subsequent penalty kick, dealing a mortal blow to the French.

Up next

France plays South Africa June 22; Mexico meets Uruguay the same day.

Greece versus Nigeria

It was a glorious day for the Greeks. Not only did they rebound from a disappointing 2-0 World Cup loss against South Korea, the Greeks posted their first-ever World Cup win with their 2-1 over Nigeria.
The Greek got on the scoreboard in the 44th minute when Dimitrios Salpingidis’s shot caught the heel a Nigerian defender, and bounced into the back of the net. It was a piece of luck, and the Greeks capitalized on it with Vasileios Torosidis’s second-half goal.
The Greeks also had numbers on their side – for a good part of the match the Nigerians played with 10 men, after midfielder Sani Kaita was sent off for a careless foul. The soccer gods seemed to to be favouring the Greeks, at last, and they made the most of it.
The game actually got off to a bad start for the Greeks, and Nigeria taking an early edge, but the tide turned with the Kaita foul. The Greeks now find themselves tied with Soth Korea for second in Group B, with three points each. The Greeks, however, would seem to face the more difficult road, with its remaining match against Argentina, while South Korea plays Nigeria.

Up next

Nigeria plays South Korea, June 22; Greece versus Argentina June 22.

Argentina versus South Korea

The World Cup continues to be a showcase of first-evers, and firsts among equals, with Argentina’s 4-1 shellacking of South Korea.
The game featured the first hat trick of the competition, and the firsts among stars with Argentine sensation Gonzalo Higuain cementing his position as one of the best in the game, along with teammate Lionel Messi.
Higuain entered the game a rising star, and left the first to score three goals in a game. His tally includes five goals in seven international matches for Argentina.
The first of his three arrived in the match’s 33rd minute, with the second coming in the 76th and his third in the 80th. Lee Chung Yong replied in the 46th minute for the Koreans.
The Argentines sit atop Group B with six points. It can claim a second-round spot with a tie against Greece.

Up next

South Korea meets Nigeria, June 22; Argentina plays Greece the same day.

June 16 games

It was the first upset of the 2010 World Cup. In a shocker, middling soccer power Switzerland beat might Spain 1-0, Wednesday in Group H action.
Spain came into the tournament as the reigning European champs, and a favourite, along with Brazil, to win it all. However, the run to the top is now laced with more holes than a stack of Swiss cheese.
By all accounts the game, which Spain dominated, should have turned out differently. But sports being sports, on any given day an upset can be in the making, unless it involves the Leafs and a run to the cup.
The match featured Spain’s style of quick, short pass and creative play. The Spanish play a beautiful version of the Beautiful Game, always a joy to watch. But the fleet-footed Spaniards couldn’t unlock the Swiss defense.
How much of a powerhouse is Spain, and how big an upset was the Swiss win? Spain has won 24 of their last 25 international matches, and has only lost two of their last 50. In a streak running to 18 games, the Swiss had never bested the Spaniards.
That changed in the 54th minute when, after a series of miscues, Switzerland’s Gelson Fernandes knocked the ball past Spanish keeper Iker Casillas.

Up next

The Swiss face Chile June 21; Spain meets Honduras the same day.

South Africa versus Uruguay

South Africa’s World Cup aspirations were dealt a heavy blow Wednesday in Group A action, with a 3-0 pasting at the hands of Uruguay.
The cards turned cold for the host team following its impressive and surprising 1-1 draw with Mexico on opening day. That success was not repeated, and South Africa now faces elimination.
The lords of soccer didn’t favour Bafana Bafana, which looked ordinary in a match in which it needed to bring its best. Insult was added to injury when keeper Itumeleng Khune was tossed following a red card for a suspect foul on Uruguayan Luis Suarez inside the box.
A penalty kick ensued, with Diego Forlan drilling one past replacement goalie goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.
South Africa now faces France in a must-win game. France is in a similar position, having lost to Mexico.

Up next

South Africa meets France, June 22; Uruguay plays Mexico the same day.

Chile versus Honduras

This has been a World Cup of firsts for many teams, including Chile’s 1-0 victory over South American rival, Honduras.
Chile looked impressive netting its first win since the days when Yugoslavia was still a federation, stretching back 48 years. That’s a record in futility that would leave the Leafs feeling good about their record.
But all that changed Wednesday in Group H World Cup action, ending Chile’s 13-game losing streak.
There have been a few blowouts in South Africa, but most games have been stingy on the goals, and this one was no exception. Despite the Chileans attacking style under Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, the match remained scoreless until the 34th minute, when Matias Fernandez finessed a ball throught the Honduras defense to Mauricio Isla, who connected with Jean Beausejour for the score.

Up next

Chile plays Switzerland, June 21; Honduras meets Spain the same day.

June 15 games

Brazil sluggish against North Koreans

Perhaps it was jetlag, or maybe they just didn’t get up for the game, but the Brazilians looked perfectly ordinary in a 2-1 win over the North Koreans in Group G World Cup action.
What a potential mismatch of epic proportions: Brazil, the top ranked team in the world and winner of five, count them, five World Cups, against xenophobic North Korea, ranked 105.
By all counts, the Brazilians should have been able to mail this one in. But the North Koreans proved surprisingly resilient in holding the mighty South Americans off the scoreboard, at least until the 55th minute when defender Maicon found a hole in the North’s defense, putting one past keeper Ri Myong Guk.
The Koreans refused to fold, and came at the Brazilians, bold and cocky, playing like they had nothing to lose. They were rewarded when Ji Yum Nam beat Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar in the 89th minute.
Brazil is a team loaded with stars, including the one-name phenom Kaka, a former FIFA player of the year. The fleet-footed Amazonians efforts to find the goal were continually thwarted by a pluck Korean defense.
Picked for a blowout, the Koreans have every reason to hold their heads high.

Up next

Brazil plays the Ivory Coast, June 20; North Korea faces Portugal on June 21.

Portugal versus Ivory Coast

The early story of the 2010 World Cup is a tale of low-scoring or no-scoring draws, with the only blowout being Germany’s 4-0 dismantling of Australia.
Portugal’s match against the Ivory Coast played according to the unfolding script, as the heavy favourites failed to score, but ended with a point, as did Ivory Coast, from the tie.
The game brought two highly touted stars together, but to no avail. Ivorian striker Didier Drogba is a star of African football, and one of the best strikers in the world. But even his on-field presence failed to fire his team, and spark a goal. Likewise, Portuguese star Christiano Ronaldo was held scoreless, but he did manage to bounce one off the bar with a blast from 30 yards out in the 11th minute.
Even the slow, low drone of the vuvuzelas couldn’t inspire the Ivorians, or the Portuguese for that matter, to victory. Ronaldo seemed to let his inability to find the net get under his skin, earning a yellow card for his transgression. If he gets another one, he’ll sit out the following game.
In other Group G action, Brazil downed North Korea 2-1, earning three points to sit atop the group, with Ivory Coast and Portugal tied for second, and North Korea last.

Up next

The Ivory Coast takes on Brazil, June 20; Portugal meets North Korea, June 21.

New Zealand versus Slovakia

The Kiwis arrived in South Africa with one simple goal in mind. To show critics they belonged in the big boys club of world football.

With a goal scored in extra time, New Zealand made its point that the days of it being someone’s warm-up dummy, are over.
You had to search wide and far to find even the most casual observer who gave the Kiwis a chance of being swept in all their matches, as they were in their only other previous World Cup appearance, 1982 in Barcelona. Bridesmaids no longer, the team notched its first-ever World Cup point with the tie.
In reality, with the way the match started, the predicted outcome seemed destined to turn into reality. Slovakia dominated the game in the early going and throughout most of the game, but missed on several good chances to put, and keep, the Kiwis down.
The Slovaks scored in the 50th minute when Robert Vittek connected on a nifty cross from Stanislav Sestak. But that’s where it ended for the favoured Slovaks, and the game ended a draw after Winston Reid’s late gial.
Group F is a free-for-all at the moment, with Italy, Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand all tied with one point each, thanks to draws in each match. It will be a wild ride to the finish to determine which two teams progress. However, we’re guessing Italy will be one of them.

Up next

Slovakia plays Paraguay Sunday; Italy takes in New Zealand the same day.

June 14 games

Italy versus Paraguay

When Paraguay scored in the first half to take a 1-0 lead over Azzurri, you could feel the surge of an upset in the making.
But when we’re talking Italy, one would expect the surge to be of short duration. Indeed it was, as the Italians rallied to tie the game, but the Paraguayans managed to hold on for a surprising tie with the always-favoured Italians.
It took 39 minutes for Paraguay to get a shot on net, and that’s the one that went in. Antolin Alcaraz out-jumped Azzurri captain Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele De Rossi to connect on a header from a free kick by Aureliano Torres.
The lead lasted to the 69th minute, when De Rossi hoofed in a corner kick from Simone Pepe.
It’s perhaps no surprise that Paraguay delivered Italy such a tough test. Both Brazil and Argentina fell in upset wins to Paraguay in World Cup qualifying matches. With the tie, the Paraguayans seem to be well positioned to advance to the second round with Italy.

Up next

Italy plays New Zealand June 20; Paraguay plays Slovakia the same day.

Netherlands versus Denmark

It was a yawner from start to finish, but a predictable one as mighty Netherlands dropped a surprisingly determined Denmark 2-0 in Group E World Cup action.
The Dutch are now unbeaten in seven consecutive World Cup openers, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this rather tame, lame match.
As usual, the Netherlands carries the mantle of being one of the favourites of the World Cup, sitting atop the football world with Brazil, Argentine, Germany and other perennial powerhouses. Despite that, it took an own-goal for the Dutch to get the final 2-tally. Perhaps the Dutch were listening to their press clippings, but they lacked a degree of urgency in defeating their northern neighbours. The own-goal came in the 46th minute when Dutch winger Robin van Persie put a cross right into the box, where Danish defender Simon Busk Poulsen hit the back of teammate Daniel Agger, and into the net, as he tried to clear it.
The second goal of the game came in the 85th minute when Eljero Elia took a pass from Wesley Sneijder, and fired one into the net.

Up next

The Netherlands play Japan June 19; Denmark meets Cameroon the same day.

Japan versus Cameroon

With the exception of Germany’s 4-0 blowout of Australia, 2010 World Cup games have been low scoring affairs to date.
The Japan/Cameroon tilt was no exception as the Japanese emerged a 1-0 victor courtesy of Keisuke Honda’s 39th minute marker.
The win was only Japan’s third in World Cup action, but the first away from home turf. It’s first two victories came in 2002, at the World Cup held in that country. The win will help ease criticism, mostly from its own fans, that Japan can’t win away from home.
The Japanese were able to effectively manage Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, considered to be one of the quality strikers in professional soccer. Holding him off the scoreboard was key to Japan’s win.
If Cameroon is to pick up its pace, its star striker will need to get his mojo working.

Up next

Japan plays the Netherlands Saturday; Cameroon faces Denmark the same day.

June 13 games

Germany versus Australia

You have to feel for the Socceroos. Not only did they draw the mighty Germans for their World Cup opener, they suffered through a missed handball and a suspect red card on the way to a 4-0 German rout.
It won’t make fans of Down Under feel any better, but it could have been much worse. The final tally could easily have been six or seven for the Germans, especially after Aussie Tim Cahill got tossed in the 56th minute for a knee-first tackle of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The ref immediately pulled the red card, and Cahill was not only off for the rest of the game, but also gets to sit out the next match against Ghana.
Despite playing without their captain Michael Ballack, the Germans proved to be simply overwhelming for the Socceroos. The first tally came before seven minutes had passed from the opening whistle. Lucas Podolski rifled home a cross from Thomas Mueller for the first of the four. Miroslav Klose, Mueller and Cacau rounded out the scoring for the Germans.

Up next

Germany plays Ghana June 24; Australia plays Serbia the same day

Slovenia versus Algeria

Strong goaltending turned out to be the key to this game, with Slovenia managing to collect a 1-0 win in World Cup action.
The game headed into the second half scoreless thanks to some heroic network by Slovenia’s Samir Handanovic and Algeria’s Fawzi Chouachi. It wasn’tuntil the 79th minute of the match that Slovenian Robert Koren scored what proved to be the winner for his side.
The win is a big one for Slovenia, given the competition in Group C. With England and the USA in the group, Slovenia and Algeria need to notch some unexpected points in order to go through to the second round. As England tied the Americans, Slovenia finds itself atop the table, at this point.
It took almost an entire match, and a penalty kick, but Ghana got the job done and beat Serbia 1-0, in Group D World Cup action.
It was in the game’s 84th minute before a goal went up on the scoreboard. It resulted from a handball by Serbia’s Zdravko Kuzmanovic, who proceeded to argue the call and got yellow carder for his efforts.
Ghanian Asamoah Gyan drove the penalty kick home, to the top left of the net.
Even though it was the only goal, it wasn’t the only chance, Ghana failed to connect on a number of quality headers. Mostly, though, it was Ghana’s game – the Serb’s only real chance came when Ghana keeper Richard Kingson made a brilliant save on a shot by Milos Krasic.

Up next

Serbia plays Germany, June 18; Australia plays Ghana June 19

Ghana versus Serbia

It took almost an entire match, and a penalty kick, but Ghana got the job done and beat Serbia 1-0, in Group D World Cup action.
It was in the game’s 84th minute before a goal went up on the scoreboard. It resulted from a handball by Serbia’s Zdravko Kuzmanovic, who proceeded to argue the call and got yellow carder for his efforts.
Ghanian Asamoah Gyan drove the penalty kick home, to the top left of the net.
Even though it was the only goal, it wasn’t the only chance, Ghana failed to connect on a number of quality headers. Mostly, though, it was Ghana’s game – the Serb’s only real chance came when Ghana keeper Richard Kingson made a brilliant save on a shot by Milos Krasic.

Up next

Serbia plays Germany, June 18; Australia plays Ghana June 19

June 12 games

England versus USA

Even though English fans may be stewing in their warm brews over a draw with a feisty American team, the 1-1 outcome should be enough to see both sides advance to the second round.

Fans of 'The Beautiful Game' watch the England/USA match at Doc Malone's in Barrie


That might not settle the nerves of English fans, who saw their side miss opportunity after opportunity. In the early stages the game looked like it was going to turn into a blowout for the English, but they couldn’t capitalize on several good chances.
While the offence looked strong, the story at the other length of the pitch was somewhat different. Goaltending may turn out to be England’s weakness. Keeper Robert Green looked shaky as he muffed a slow, rolling shot from American Clint Dempsey, s it slid into the back of the net.
The second half was better for the Americans, as they grew in confidence. The English missed their chance in the first half to put the game away, especially after the fourth-minute goal by captain Steven Gerrard.

Up next

The Americans take on Slovenia June 18, while England faces Algeria the same day.

Argentina versus Nigeria

Diego Mardona’s team played according to script, downing an impressive and aggressive Nigeria 1-0, Saturday in Group B World Cup action from South Africa.
The win puts the Argentines in an early tie with the South Koreans, who netted a 2-0 win over Greece earlier in the day.
Argentina’s veteran defender Gabriel Heinze collected the goal for his team, in the seventh minute of the match. Heinze collected the marker from a corner kick by Sebastian Veron, heading it past Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeam.
Argentina, one of the competition’s favourites, now seems certain to advance to the second round.
Play of the match: The game should have been (at least) 2-0 for the Argentines. However, Enyeam made a tremendous out-stretched fingertip save to stop a curving shot from Lionel Messi that seemed labeled for the upper-left corner of the net.

Up next
Argentina meets South Korea June 17; Nigeria meets Greece June 17

Greece versus South Korea

Greece came to South Africa looking for its first World Cup goal. It’s still looking following a 2-0 shutout by South Korea
The Greeks put together a fairly relaxed effort as the Koreans rolled to a relatively easy win, giving them the lead in Group B, at least until the result of the Argentina/Nigeria tilt becomes known (kick off is set for 10 a.m., Barrie time.
The Koreans got the ball rolling in the seventh minute when Lee Jung-soo beat two defenders to net an easy knock-in. Before that, the Greeks had failed with a free kick from the left corner that drove the ball into the middle of the box
In the 52nd minute, Park Ji-sung put the Greeks to bed with a solo effort that proved to be the nail in the coffin for Greece.
The Greeks now face a difficult uphill climb to reach the second round, when the Koreans seem to have an open road.

Opening day, June 11 games

South Africa versus Mexico

South Africa and Mexico battled to a 1-1 draw, with Siphiwe Tshabalala of Bafana Bafana netting one at the 55th minutes, while Mexico’s Rafa Marquez scored the equalizer with 11 minutes remaining.
Mexico dominated the game in the first half, seeming to prove the pundits right that South Africa was destined to be the first host of the 80-year old tournament not to make it into the second round.
The result doesn’t guarantee the teams a ticket to the second-round dance, but a loss would have made the journey a difficult on.
Play of the match: South African keeper Itumeleng Khun stopped Mexico’s Guillermo Franc cold in the 32nd minute of the match.

France versus Uruguay

Even though France is being touted as the class of Group A (France, Uruguay, Mexico South Africa, the South Americans have a long history of frustrating the men in blue.
Friday’s match followed a familiar story line, with both sides failing to score in a 0-0 draw. In World Cup action, France has never beaten Uruguay.
It was a feisty match, with seven yellow cards and Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro tossed in the 81st minute. With two draws in the Group A’s opening matches, the road to the second round remains open.
Play of the match: Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera blocked a free kicked by French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff that seemed destined for the upper left corner of the Uruguayan goal.

Up next

Uruguay takes on South Africa, June 16; France faces Mexico June 17.

Group A

France, Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa

Group B

Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece

Group C

England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D

Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E

Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F

Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G

Brazil, Korea DPR (North), Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal

Group H

Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

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