Tag Archives: Bloemfontein

Germany rout sorry England

Germany 4-1 England


‘Das neue Deutschland’, the latest incarnation of the German national team routed Fabio Capello’s England 4-1 in Bloemfontein. Two early goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski gave Jogi Löw’s young squad the advantage before Matthew Upson’s header brought England back into the game. Moments later Frank Lampard appeared to have scored a spectacular equaliser. In what will surely rank as one of the most controversial refereeing decisions in the history of the tournament, neither referee Jorge Larrionda nor his assistants noticed the ball cross the goalline. After the break Thomas Müller was the beneficiary of two superb counterattacks from Germany, notching a brace and ending all hopes of an English revival.

Germany started the game at a frantic pace. Mesut Özil, the World Cup’s outstanding player to date, found himself through on David James’ goal after his supreme first touch took him past Ashley Cole. Özil was denied by the feet of James, the first of many impressive saves from the Portsmouth goalkeeper.

James was powerless to prevent Germany’s opener in the twentieth minute, however. A long goalkick from Manuel Neuer reached Miroslav Klose following poor defending from John Terry and Matthew Upson, who allowed the ball to bounce for the Bayern München striker. Klose netted his fiftieth goal for Germany, holding off the challenge from Upson and stretching to prod the ball past David James. It was the archetypical ‘Route One’ goal, completely the opposite of Joachim Löw’s favoured method, but Miroslav Klose is peerless in such situations.

The goal prompted a prolonged period of German pressure. Klose almost scored his second after remarkable build-up play from Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller. The Polish-born striker took the wrong approach, firing his low shot straight at the goalkeeper. Just minutes later, Lukas Podolski made no such mistake. Klose chipped through for Thomas Müller who, instead of taking the shot himself, clipped across the goalmouth for Podolski. The Köln striker threaded his shot from an acute angle through the legs of David James, giving Germany a deserved two goal advantage.

England were shellshocked. The Three Lions had failed to impress in the Group Stage but were in the midst of their worst performance under the stewardship of Fabio Capello. Despite their failings, England found themselves back in the match just eight minutes before half-time. A quickly taken corner was played short to Steven Gerrard. The England captain crossed high into the penalty area where Matthew Upson rose to glance a header past the poorly positioned Manuel Neuer. The goal reenergised England, who for the first time seemed capable of finding a way past a previously unbothered German defence.

They should have had an equaliser. Frank Lampard received the ball just outside the penalty area before turning and half-volleying over the outstretched Neuer. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and bounced more than a foot behind the line before hitting the bar once more. Fabio Capello had already begun a passionate celebration. Jorge Larrionda and his assistants had failed to give the goal. A cacophony of boos reverberated around Bloemfontein with good reason. Forty-four years had passed since Geoff Hurst’s controversial effort was adjudged to have crossed the line at Wembley, but revenge was granted to Germany.

It appeared as if this terrific encounter between two of the world’s most exalted national teams would be overshadowed by the controversy. The outrage persisted throughout halftime and on into the second half until the 64th minute.

England committed players forward for an attacking free-kick, but Frank Lampard’s attempt was blocked by the wall allowing Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger to break forward at breathtaking pace. Schweinsteiger, a mazy winger until two seasons ago, embarked on a staggeringly long run into the English half before laying the ball into the path of Müller. The Bayern München forward, who had only begun his professional career with the Munich club in 2009, was enjoying an astonishing performance and crashed the ball past David James to effectively end the game as a contest.

It soon became a rout, Müller again capitalising on a breakaway. Mesut Özil had been having his quietest game of the tournament thusfar but was able to muster another dash forward. He squared the ball for his former Under-21 teammate Müller, who finished superbly.

England failed to mount a sincere threat after the fourth goal. Wayne Rooney’s poor record in international tournaments continued. The Manchester United striker is one of the world’s most treasured footballers but his performances in this World Cup have been bereft of the energy, touch, movement or precision that characterise his displays for his club.

The final whistle brought the curtain down on an abject failure for England. For Germany, however, what was considered a bright future has become an exciting present. The DFB’s (German Football Association) policy of developing youth coaches and involving players from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds has been inspired. Under the guidance of Jogi Löw, this German team is sure to succeed at international tournaments into the next decade.

The young achievers’ reward for their dominant victory is a place in the Quarter Finals, where they will face the winners of Argentina versus Mexico. Löw himself has stated that he does not expect to win the 2010 World Cup but the possibility is there. With confidence surely rising this German team may not have completed their experimental venture yet.

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Sani Kaita red card is the catalyst for Greek revival

Greece 2-1 Nigeria

A moment of madness from Nigerian midfielder Sani Kaita gave Greece the ideal platform to mount a comeback against Lars Lagerbäck’s side.

Following Argentina’s earlier 4-1 victory over the Republic of Korea, both sides were in desperate need of a victory to keep their chances of qualification for the next round intact. Despite the pressing need to win, neither side looked likely to threaten in the early stages. Greece’s Katsouranis tried a speculative chip from near the halfway line but his effort was easily saved by Vincent Enyeama, whose performance against Argentina had impressed the footballing world.

Nigeria took the lead in the 16th minute. An inswinging freekick from Kalu Uche eluded an attempted header from Peter Odimwingie before finding its way into the Greek net. Goalkeeper Alexandros Tsorvas was clearly expecting Odimwingie to make contact with Uche’s freekick as he dived away from the cross. Greece were facing an early exit from the World Cup.

Nigeria looked comfortable in the lead. Otto Rehhagel’s side, as they were against South Korea, were reduced to punting long balls forward into their opponents penalty area. These poor passes posed no problems for the Nigerian central defenders, Danny Shittu and Joseph Yobo, who headed each of them away with ease.

The game’s pivotal moment arrived in the 33rd minute. Torosidis and Kaita jostled for the ball after it had gone out for a through in with the latter aiming a kick at the Greek’s thigh. Torosidis collapsed to the floor clutching his face in a shameful attempt to capture the referee’s attention. Despite Torosidis’ clear overreaction, Kaita deserved the subsequent red card. The AS Monaco midfielder could hardly believe it, falling to his knees as the referee produced the card before trudging from the field with his shirt covering his face.

Rehhagel sensed that his side’s chance had arrived. He almost instantly summoned Georgios Samaras from the bench, the Celtic striker replacing Papastathapolous.

Nigeria’s players were visibly rattled by the dismissal of their talented midfielder. Greece on the other hand were buoyant. Far from their uninspired ‘Route One’ football that they had displayed at this World Cup until then, they played sublime high tempo passes along the ground. Salpigidis almost benefited from this newly acquired lust for goals and was played through on goal. He was unable to shoot past the onrushing Vincent Enyeama who was once again the hero for Nigeria, producing a wonderful save.

The Maccabi Haifa ‘keeper was powerless to prevent the inevitable equaliser however. Salpigidis, who had shown some effectiveness after coming on as a substitute against South Korea, fired a low shot towards the bottom right corner. On its path to goal it was deflected by Haruna and ended up high to the left of Enyeama. Salpigidis wheeled away with his teammates as they celebrated Greece’s first ever World Cup goal.

The half time whistle was welcomed by the Super Eagles who huddled on the pitch before jogging purposefully towards the tunnel. Lars Lagerbäck had the difficult task of re-organising his unnerved side.

The Swedish coach’s team talk clearly had little effect on his side as the pattern of the second half bore a vivid resemblance to that of the first. Greece, perhaps out of character, controlled possession for long spells and always seemed the more likely to score the goal that would separate the teams.

Nigeria suffered another blow in the 55th minute. Talented fullback Taye Taiwo pulled his groin as struck an overhit cross into the Greek penalty area. The Marseille stalwart’s combination of defensive knowhow and his intrinsic athletic ability were sorely missed by the Super Eagles over the following 35 minutes or so.

Shittu and Yobo remained steadfast in their defiance of repeated Greek attacks. The corner count was rising rapidly as cross after cross was headed away confidently by the Premier League duo. Yobo was culpable for what proved to be one of the match’s decisive moments, however. His failed attempt at a clearing header fell to Gekas. The superb Enyeama prevented the striker from scoring with an outstanding save with his feat. From the save the ball was pumped forward and Nigeria found themselves in an attacking position with Yakubu Aiyegbeni in a one on one situation with Tsorvas. The Greek goalkeeper matched his Nigerian counterpart’s efforts with a magnificent parry. His block looked to be in vain as it dropped into the path of Chinedu Obasi. Obasi rounding off a tremendously exciting passage of play with a horrific miss from six yards, one which may yet rank as the worst of the tournament.

Enyeama was once again the pillar on which Nigeria’s hopes lay. He produced perhaps his best save of the competition to date as he flew across his goalmouth to deny a header from Gekas.

For all of his wonderful goalkeeping the Nigerian goalkeeper was culpable for Greece’s second and what proved to be the critical goal. A low shot from the edge of the penalty area swerved at the last possible moment and Enyeama failed to adjust his body to meet it firmly. The ball rolled into the path of Torosidis who dispatched the winning goal and prompted an ecstatic reaction from both the crowd and the Greek substitutes.

Enyeama protested the referee’s decision to allow the goal as Yobo was injured in the build-up after clashing heads with Samaras. His complaints went unheeded.

Greece continued to dominate in the closing stages. Nigeria’s best chance at an unlikely equaliser fell to Everton’s Yakubu who curled a shot just to the left of Tsorvas’ goal.

Criticisms of Lars Lagerbäck proved to be valid. The Swedish coach did little to console his side after the fatal dismissal of Kaita. His failure to readjust his formation accordingly was capitalised on by Otto Rehhagel, who had contended that his side would play attractive football if Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta were amongst the members of his squad. His side may not have produced a display of the same calibre as Argentina’s earlier today but the exertions of his squad and their gritty determination to overturn Nigeria were commendable.

Nigeria must now beat the Republic of Korea and hope that Argentina beat Greece for the Super Eagles to have any chance of reaching the Round of 16.