Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Groups G and H Review

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 25, 2010
Dunga

Brazil coach Dunga has plenty to smile about after his team topped Group H unbeaten

Figures given are as follows: Games Played/Points Scored:

GROUP G: BRAZIL 3/7; PORTUGAL 3/5; IVORY COAST 3/4; NORTH KOREA 3/0

The Seleção have, as expected, topped the group after Dunga’s men saw off a spirited show from unknown quantity North Korea in the opening group match before going on to beat Ivory Coast and gain a point in an uninspiring ninety minutes of football against Portugal. The Portuguese were held by the Ivorians to a goalless draw in their first match but were able to rout the North Koreans by seven goals before getting the point they needed against the five-time world champions in their final match. The North Koreans provided one of the tournament’s most emotional moments when Jong Tae Se cried his eyes out during the national anthem ahead of the game against Brazil and gave real football fans hope that there are still real footballers out there who feel the emotion about wearing their favourite football shirt. Sadly this emotion couldn’t be transferred into points as the brave North Koreans ended up without any points after three games. As for the Ivorians they will hope for a kinder draw should they qualify for the next competition as they have been dealt the Group of Death in the last two tournaments which has hindered their ability to progress to the knock-out stages.

GROUP HSPAIN 3/6; CHILE 3/6; SWITZERLAND 3/4 ; HONDURAS 3/1

After a poor start to the tournament Vicente del Bosque’s Spain team progressed to the next stage as group winners thanks mainly to the efforts of David Villa who has scored all but one of La Roja‘s goals so far. Spain were shocked on the first matchday losing 1-0 to Switzerland which makes it all the more surprising that Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men never made it to the knock-out stage after such a promising opening to their campaign. Spain went on to win both their next two matches against Honduras (2-0) and Chile (2-1) with Villa scoring three of the goals; only Andres Iniesta got on the score sheet when he settled the latter game in Spain’s favour by scoring the second goal. Chile played some good football in the tournament but will face the toughest test in the Round of 16 when they play against South American rivals Brazil in Johannesburg on Monday whilst the Derby of Iberia will feature in Cape Town on Tuesday when European champions Spain face neighbours Portugal in a much anticipated game.

David Villa

David Villa has been the main man for Spain in their FIFA World Cup campaign

FIFA: Chile edge out Swiss; Portugal thrash North Korea; Spain win

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 21, 2010
Mark Gonzalez

Mark González scored the goal which gave Chile a 1-0 win over Switzerland

The second round of matches in Groups G and H were completed today with Portugal making themselves heavy favourites to go through to the Round of Sixteen stage along with group leaders Brazil in the former while Chile and Spain won their games to make the final round of games in the latter on Friday potentially very interesting.

Portugal versus North Korea has stirred up some memories of the only previous encounter between the two countries in the 1966 FIFA World Cup where the Asian side went three goals up only to be eventually beaten by Eusebio’s Portuguese side 5-3 in one of that tournament’s most eventually matches. This time, however, the game wasn’t to be anywhere near as close although North Korea did restrict the Portuguese to a mere one goal lead at the half-time break, Raul Meireles taking his goal with great aplomb in the 29th minute. Sadly for North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun he saw his players lose their heads in the second half as the Portuguese set about taking the game to the Far East outfit at every available opportunity. Portugal were four nil up by the hour mark thanks to goals from Simão, Hugo Almeida and Tiago and then put the cherry on the cake with further strikes in the final ten minutes of the game from Liédson, Cristiano Ronaldo – remarkably scoring his first international goal in two years – and a second from Tiago to seal a seven goal rout of the helpless North Korea who will hope to claw back some pride in their final group match against the Ivory Coast on Friday whilst Portugal will fight it out with Brazil to see who wins the group.

The first game of the day in Group H saw Chile keep up the South Americans’ incredble record at this year’s FIFA World Cup. In ten matches involving teams from that particular continent in the competition so far there have been eight wins and two draws. Chile won the eighth game for that part of the world with a narrow 1-0 victory over a Switzerland side who had surprised everybody in their opening match by defeating European champions Spain and were determined to follow up on that result. This was not to be a feast of football with Ottmar Hitzfeld Swiss side adopting very much the same tactics that stifled Spain’s attack but once Valon Behrami got himself sent off in the 30th minute for a needless use of the elbow against Arutro Vidal the Swiss were always up against it. The game’s decisive moment came with sixteen minutes of the second half to play as Esteban Paredes beat the offside trap to run on to a through ball from Jorge Valdivia, crossed the ball towards the far post where Mark González was waiting to guide it home with his head. The result ensured that Chile will remain on top of the group irrespective of Spain’s result later in the day.

David Villa

David Villa scored both goals for Spain in their 2-0 win over Honduras

Spain, simply put, had to win against Central American outsiders Honduras if they were to fancy their chances of progress. The game never looked like being anything other than a Spain win either on paper or when the match began on the pitch as La Roja dominated the possession and the territory throughout the game. David Villa added to his amazing goals/games ratio tonight when it mattered. The newly-signed FC Barcelona striker already had forty goals from sixty internationals before tonight’s game and he could’ve added a lot more than the two which he did score against a weak Honduras side. He scored his first in the 17th minute, receiving the ball outside the box, jinking past two defenders before taking a touch in order to curl the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net. His second came six minutes into the second half when his shot from the edge of the penalty box took a deflection and deceived Noel Valladares in the Honduras goal. Villa then had the chance to become the second player in the competition, after Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuaín, to score a hat-trick but missed his spot kick as the ball shaded just past the post as he sent the keeper diving in the opposite direction. Nonetheless Spain were comfortable winners and they now must get three points against leaders Chile in their final Group H match to qualify for the next stage. Anything less and La Roja will be sweating it out on the other game between Honduras and Switzerland which takes place at the same time.

FIFA: Spain shocked by flukey Swiss; Chile make history

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 16, 2010
Gelson Fernandes

Gelson Fernandes scored the winning goal in Switzerland's 1-0 win over Spain

After Brazil squeaked their way past a resilient North Korea on Tuesday another FIFA World Cup favourite Spain had less luck in their opening group match against Switzerland on Wednesday. The Spanish lost to a Gelson Fernandes goal in the 52nd minute of their Group H encounter in what proved to be the first major shock of the tournament. That means that the Swiss top the group along with Chile who, earlier in the day, had beaten Honduras by a lone Jean Beausejour strike ten minutes from the break.

La Roja, as the Spanish national team are known, have been the pre-tournament favourites and were widely expected to beat Switzerland in their opening Group H match in Durban. Sadly for Spain’s coach Vicente del Bosque his troops were to go down by a goal to nil despite his side having the lion’s share of the possession and the chances. In face Switzerland’s only real chance in the game came along with the goal seven minutes after the break. A traditional route one goal was started with a punt upfield from goalkeeper Diego Benaglio which was headed on by Eren Derdiyok. He made a run and received the ball back before having a run into the penalty box before being tripped by Spanish keeper Iker Casillas. After Derdiyok was left sprawling in the box the loose ball was tapped in from Fernandes who was chased unsuccessfully by Gerard Piqué and the Swiss had the lead with their first real opportunity of the game. After that there were two great chances which hit the woodwork, one for either side. Xabi Alonso hit the crossbar after shooting from distance on 72 minutes while Switzerland’s only real chance to put the game to bed came three minutes later when Derdiyok, after a mazy run, shot without the outside of his right foot only to see his shot cannon back off a post. The Spanish, try as they might, were unable to summon up an equalizer and it was Ottmar Hitzfeld and his troops who were to celebrate a wonderful three points after the game.

Earlier in the day Chile made history by winning their first FIFA World Cup match a mere 48 years after winning their last one which was played on home soil in the 1962 tournament. A deserved win for the South Americans was sealed when Alexis Sanchez played a lovely through ball down the right to Mauricio Isla who squared it to Jean Beausejour who turned it home from a few yards out. The game could’ve been over as a contest on 65 minutes but Waldo Ponce’s close range header was stopped brilliantly by Honduras keeper Noel Valladares to keep the Central American side in the game. Unfortunately for the Hondurans it was Marcelo Bielsa’s men who had done just enough to take the three points in one of the FIFA World Cup’s more entertaining affairs so far.

After one game each Spain and Honduras are propping up the Chileans and the Swiss before the second set of games in the group sees Spain meeting fellow opening match losers Honduras in Johannesburg on Monday, June 21st whilst Chile meet Switzerland earlier on the same day in Port Elizabeth.