Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Cup Recap

Monday, 19 June

Switzerland 2 Togo 0

France's disappointing draw with Korea yesterday left an opening for Switzerland to leap-frog to first place in the group with a game left to play against Korea. A tie there will guarantee Switzerland a place in the elimination round. Goals from Alexander Frei in the 16th minute and Tranquillo Barnetta in the 88th minute, eliminating Togo while securing a good chance at advancement for themselves.

Ukraine 4 Saudi Arabia 0

No real surprise here. The Saudi national team is wholly comprised of players who only play in the Saudi national football league, and they have no international superstars to speak of. Which doesn't speak well for the rest of the Arabic and Asian regions. With the win, Ukraine vaults into second place in their group behind Spain, and are well positioned to move forward.

Spain 3 Tunisia 0

Tunisia, coming off a desperation last-second tie against Saudi Arabia, faced its biggest challenge of the tournament with Spain, a side that dispatched Ukraine handily. Jaouhar Mnari scored for Tunisia in the 8th minute off the rebound of his own shot from Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, to underscore their desperation. But in the 71st minute, Raul taps in a rebound of a Cesc Fabregas shot, and five minutes later, Fernando Torres takes a nice pass from Fabregas to turn a quick shot past the Tunisian keeper, Ali Boumnijel. Torres also scored a penalty kick at the end of regulation.
Tuesday, 20 June

Germany 3 Ecuador 0

The host country storms through its group with 3 wins, two goals surrendered and 8 scored. Miroslav Klose slammed in two goals, and Lukas Podolski added what amounted to an emtpy net goal to finalize scoring. Ecuador, despite a miserable defeat, advanced as well.

Poland 2 Costa Rica 1

Playing strictly for pride, both teams played hard and tough football. Costa Rica scored first, as Ronald Gomez drilled home a free kick in the 25th minute. Eight minutes later, Poland's Batosz Bosacki drew the sides even, and eventually scored the winning goal in the 66th minute with a leaping header over keeper Jose Porras.

England 2 Sweden 2

England have secured a spot in the elimination round with a pair of wins, however, the other Group B spot remained to be determined. Sweden merely needed a draw to advance. Michael Owen, who had been sharply critic of Technical Director Sven Goran-Eriksson due to his reduced playing time, left the game after three minutes with a knee injury suffered apparently just running up the field. Joe Cole scored in the 35th minute off a clearing attempt from 30 yards out, catching the ball on his chest and then firing home a high shot to the corner. Sweden stormed back after the half, Marcus Allback climbed high to nod the ball past keeper Paul Robinson off a corner from Kim Kallstrom in the 52nd minute, despite Ashely Cole's best efforts to get his head in front of Allback's shot. It was also the 2000th goal in World Cup history. Steven Gerrard, who has proven to be England's salvation time and time again, scored in the 85th minute off a cross from Joe Cole to head the ball past keeper Andreas Isaksson, but just five minutes later, Henrik Larsson tied the game again, on a long throw in he scooped up and dribbled in behind the English defense. Both sides played as if the game really had meaning for each.

Paraguay 2 Trinidad & Tobago 0

The Soca Warriors of T&T needed a win going in over Paraguay, a bit of a disappointment in this group despite only giving up two goals against England and Sweden. Paraguay carried a 1-0 lead at the half thanks to an own goal by T&T's Brent Sancho, eerily reminiscent of the goal that gave England a 1-0 victory over Paraguay on Opening Day of the tournament, brushing the head of the defender and slipping past keeper Kelvin Jack. In the 86th minute, Nelson Cuevas outfoxed the defensive trap and got the ball all alone in front of goal and seals the deal on a swipe just inside the left post.

The Group B elimination seeds will have England playing Ecuador, while Sweden has yet another tough game playing Group A winner, Germany.