Tag Archives: Danny

Lifeless game in Durban sees Brazil & Portugal advance

Portugal 0-0 Brazil

Brazil and Portugal progressed to the Round of 16 as group winners and runners up respectively. The build up to his game promised us an exciting battle of two teams who knew how to entertain. What we got instead was perhaps the worst ninety minutes of football yet seen at this World Cup.

Brazil started promisingly. Dani Alves, replacing the injured Elano in the starting line up, flashed a bouncing shot just wide of the target.

Portugal were finding it difficult to establish themselves in possession. Brazil vigorously pressed Portugal no matter where Carlos Queiroz’s side had control of the football.

Benfica fullback Coentrão, who was catching the attention of the world’s media with some impressive displays against Côte d’Ivoire and North Korea, once again attacked down the left before sending a cross deep into the penalty area. Internazionale goalkeeper Julio Cesar slapped the incoming football as far as Tiago on the edge of the penalty area. Tiago passed to Ronaldo whose effort was blocked.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates were finding it difficult to penetrate the experienced and accomplished Brazilian defence. Tiago’s sliced volley indicative of Portugal’s lack of attacking prowess so far.

Portugal might have breached the wall of Brazilian defenders in the 25th minute. A long pass over the top for Cristiano Ronaldo was deliberately diverted by the arm of Juan. The referee showed the Roma centreback the yellow card and was immediately accosted by three Portuguese players. Benito Archunia did not appreciate the advice of Duda, and added the midfielder’s name to his burgeoning notebook.

Brazil had the advantage in terms of possession and territory and came the closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Nilmar’s close range shot was pushed superbly on to the post by Eduardo. Luís Fabiano supplied an elegant chip for the Villarreal youngster, but Nilmar was unable to convert.

Fabiano himself should have scored. A terrific cross from Maicon on the right was met by the head of the Sevilla striker. Fabiano headed into the ground and wide. His reaction, to lie face down on the turf, was telling.

Brazil should have entered the break with a lead but instead found themselves level with Portugal in a biting encounter, Benito Archunia producing seven yellow cards in the opening forty-five minutes.

If the first half was uninspiring, the second was disheartening. Neither side could muster a prolonged period of pressure in the second half despite a bright start from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward woke a sleeping audience with a blistering run from just inside the Brazilian half, taking the ball as far as the byline. Lúcio was at hand to tackle Ronado but his sliding challenge acted as a cross for Raul Meireles who had broken forward into the Brazilian penalty area. Meireles’ poor effort was poked at Julio Cesar from an angle.

It had appeared as if Ronaldo was going to seize control of the game and test Brazil. This was not to be, over the next forty-five minutes the Portuguese’s only meaningful contribution was a succession of poorly executed free-kicks.

The second half petered out with no sign of a goal at either end until stoppage time. The decision of the referee to award five minutes of extra time was a questionable one but it did provide Brazil with their only chances in the second half.

Ramires, who was brought on to replace Julio Baptista, tried a shot at goal from twenty-five yards. His attempt was subjected to a wicked deflection which almost caught Eduardo out. The Portuguese goalkeeper had been dependable throughout the Group Stage and had to reach to fend off the dipping football.

The draw allows both sides to progress at the expense of the Côte d’Ivoire, who beat North Korea 3-0. Both Brazil and Portugal will certainly be watching with interest tonight as Chile face the European Champions, Spain, for top spot in Group H. Should Spain qualify as runners up then, in Spain versus Brazil, we may see the kind of breathtaking football that this match failed to deliver to us and the capacity crowd in Durban.

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Ivorians dominate but fail to break down Portugal

The much anticipated match between Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal failed to live up to expectations as it ended up more of a damp squib on a rainy evening in Port Elizabeth. The draw potentially creates a group dynamic where both Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal may have to score as many goals as possible against the People’s Republic of Korea should neither of them succeed in beating a highly rated Brazil side.

Didier Drogba was left on the bench by Sven Goran Eriksson, whose team failed to score despite perhaps being the better side. Portugal seemed to continue the form that saw them miss out on an automatic qualification spot. Côte d’Ivoire did most of the early running in what was building up into a tense encounter. A Cristiano Ronaldo dive deceived the match official and Didier Zokora of Sevilla was booked as a result. A similar incident followed later in the half. Ronaldo went down again, albeit this time legitimately, but this time the Portuguese was booked after getting involved in some verbal jousting with his tackler Demel.

Despite his petulant antics, if Portugal were to sparkle on the world stage then Ronaldo would be the catalyst. The Real Madrid superstar nearly scored what would have been one of the greatest goals in the competition’s illustrious history. He received the ball some thirty-five yards away from goal and quickly evaded Demel with a turn reminiscent of Johann Cruyff’s best efforts. He then unleashed a swerving piledriver which shook the frame of the goal as his effort cannoned off the left post. The scintillating strike was to be the best chance of the match for Portugal, and perhaps Ronaldo’s only meaningful contribution to the match. Didier Drogba blessed himself in thanks as the goalpost continued to shake seconds after the attempt.

Gervinho was proving to be the Elephants most formidable attacking threat in the absence of their captain. He tormented Chelsea fullback Paulo Ferreira and was involved in most everything that the Ivorians created in the first half. Gervinho continued to pose problems in the second half, forcing a save from the Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.

By now the Elephants were established as the better side in this floundering contest which was not living up to the billing it had received in the months leading up to the tournament. The Ivorians however were the only side showing any attacking intent. They were content to leave Kolo Touré and Demel to sit in front of the back four while Yaya Touré joined in the attempts to take the game to the side that finished fourth in Germany in 2006.

For all of their encroachments into the Portugeuse final third the Côte d’Ivoire lacked a potent force to challenge the Portuguese centre-back partnership of Bruno Alves and Ricardo Carvalho. Excitement reverberated around the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium as Didier Drogba readied himself for his introduction in the place of his Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou.

The Côte d’Ivoire pressurised the Portuguese in the final minutes in search of what might have proved to be a vital goal in the quest to reach the last 16. Drogba himself had the chance to further his iconic status as he found himself through on goal in the last minute. Unfortunately for the former African Player of the Year, the pass from Kader Keita was just beyond his reach and his attempt at a stretch was uncontrollable.

The draw serves neither side particularly well. It is conceivable that both sides may lose to Brazil leaving a race for goals against North Korea as the method for qualification from the group. Portugal, on today’s evidence at least, will struggle to threaten Brazil’s solid defensive axis. Côte d’Ivoire should improve with Didier Drogba in his regular starring role. Both teams should be able to catch a glimpse of what Brazil are capable of this evening as the Seleçâo take on the group’s outsiders, Korea DPR.