Tag Archives: Ivory Coast

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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Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 10

Dave returns after a weekend break to evaluate the good and the great of the World Cup.

Winners

Portugal

And then some. Following a fairly tight first half, the Portuguese opened the floodgates in dramatic style, delivering the traditional World Cup drubbing in the process. While there wasn’t anything on display to rival the scintillating teamwork that led to Esteban Cambiasso’s goal during Argentina’s slaughter of Serbia & Montenegro in 2006, there was enough Iberian flair on display to significantly boost the confidence levels in the Portugal camp. Even Liédson got his name on the scoresheet.

The seven-goal tally also gives Portugal the added benefit of superior goal difference should they falter against Brazil in Durban on Friday afternoon.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Scored his first goal for his country in sixteen months. Just about.

Spain

Commanding but not convincing, or if you prefer Jim Beglin of ITV’s interpretation; “lovely but not lethal”. While the 2-0 scoreline somewhat flattered Honduras, Spain were wasteful in front of goal and really should have come away with a result comparable to Portugal’s romp against North Korea. A missed penalty and several missed chances kept things respectable and while things are definitely looking up for the European Champions, Spain will need to raise their game before they hit the second round.

David Villa

If his second goal was a tad fortunate, the first was anything but. A beautiful individual goal that will remain long in the memory, Barcelona’s newest acquisition displayed tremendous skill and determination to cut inside the Honduran defence before coolly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper while at full stretch. Villa really should have capped his performance off with a hat trick, but despite his missed penalty he was arguably the best man on the pitch in a red shirt. More please.

Chile

Although they made hard work of it. In retrospect it’s amazing that the game finished with only one goal scored and with 21 players on the pitch. At times it looked like a football had been thrown into the middle of a Royal Rumble, with the referee failing to keep control of things.

A combination of large egos and poor finishing meant the game finished with the slight scoreline of one nil, but the final quarter of an hour brought with it palpable excitement as both sides attacked one another relentlessly. Switzerland’s Eren Derdiyok will be left to rue a late miss when it seemed it was easier to score while Chile will go into their final game with Spain knowing that a point will leave them top of the group. They will also know that there is room for improvement.

Bookmakers

Al l those bets on Fernando Torres as top goalscorer currently look like an easy profit for Paddy Power and co.

Losers


Switzerland

While they did manage to net the rather unsexy accolade of becoming the team that went the longest at a World Cup finals without conceding a goal. Alas, their rigid defence finally came undone following wave after wave of Chilean attacks. At least Roger Federer mounted a ridiculous comeback at Wimbledon to save some of the nation’s blushes.

Valon Behrami

Got away with the first elbow but not the second. While the West Ham player’s ‘victims’ may have exaggerated the extent of Behrami’s actions, he can have little complaint at seeing red.

North Korea

Gamely held their own for 45 minutes before being torn to shreds in the second half. It’s rare that a team can take such a mauling and still exit a tournament with some degree of pride but North Korea played with conviction and ambition for the most part of their World Cup campaign and shouldn’t feel too dispirited. Hopefully the Supreme Leader feels the same way eh?

Ivory Coast

Portugal’s stunning haul effectively puts the Elephants out.

Ronaldo impresses as Portugal rout North Korea

Portugal 7-0 North Korea


Portugal routed DPRK in inclement conditions at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. Portugal’s goal of qualification from the group stage would potentially come down to their goal difference versus that of the Ivory Coast and they quickly signaled their intent.

The North Korean set-up that had proved quite effective in stifling Brazil was replaced by a more attacking set-up, 4-5-1 becoming 3-5-2.

Both teams opened with some slick passing on the notably zippy surface. Portugal had the best of the early exchanges with Ricardo Carvalho hitting the post from a corner. Ri Myong Guk came to meet Tiago’s thumped corner but was unable to divert it. Carvalho was on hand to power a header against the post.

In an entertaining, end-to-end opening half North Korea showed tidy passing and set up a fine long range effort from Cha Jong Hyok. The defender’s powerful strike just swerving wide of Eduardo’s goal.

Portugal were exhibiting far more ambition than they did against Côte d’Ivoire and opened the scoring with a wonderful move. Tiago threading a beautifully judged pass through the North Korean defence, taking three Koreans out of the game in the process, in to the path of Porto’s Raul Mereiles who wound up before powering his shot under Ri Myong Guk.

The goal ended North Korea’s resistance. The team which had so valiantly harried Brazil and shown commendable control and passing in the opening thirty minutes here, immediately sank and allowed the Portuguese to control the game from thereon.

They were able to end the half only a goal down but it wasn’t long into the second half before they conceded again. Breathtaking interplay between Raul Mereiles and Hugo Almeida, brought into the side in place of Liédson, allowed Simão to advance on goal where he produced a neat finish.

The third followed soon after. Portugal circled the North Koreans seemingly fixated on securing their passage to the Round of 16 on goal difference. Coentrão, Benfica’s highly rated left-back, curled in an excellent cross to the unmarked Hugo Almeida who justified his selection with a headed goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo was excelling in his free-role in the second half. Carlos Queiroz unleashed the Real Madrid galactico after keeping him mostly on the left in the opening period.

Ronaldo was on hand to offer an assist for the fourth. The Ballon d’Or winner darted forward to retrieve a ball by the byline. He was given options by Hugo Almeida and Tiago who were sprinting towards the penalty area. Ronaldo chose the latter. He rolled a pass towards the edge of the penalty area where the Atlético Madrid midfielder was able to place the ball past the now beleaguered Ri Myong Guk.

The star wingback in this group is undoubtedly Maicon, although the Brazilian would have been pleased to produce a performance of the magnitude of that given by Coentrão this afternoon. The talented leftback was relentless. He constantly overlapped his wingers and looked to get involved in almost every attack. He very nearly added a goal to this consummate outing. Ronaldo, wreaking as much havoc as possible on the Koreans, played the leftback through at an angle. Coentrão’s effort just missing the target on this occassion.

The Associated Press reported that this match would be the first live broadcast of a World Cup game in the demagogic totalitarian state. The state broadcaster may well have shut down the feed as Liédson added the fifth with one of his first touches. The North Korean defence was visibly fatigued at this point, and this tiredness manifested itself after a botched clearance bobbled up to Liédson who did not fail to convert the easiest of opportunities.

Cristiano Ronaldo had not scored for Portugal in nearly two years and had come close several times in the first eighty minutes, even hitting the crossbar with a trademark strike from distance. His goal did come but not in his usual swaggering fashion. Ronaldo pounced upon a loose ball following a tackle just outside the penalty area. Ri Myong Guk attempted to challenge the Portuguese star but the ball ended up rolling along Ronaldo’s back and off the top of his head before it fell to his feet. He tapped in Portugal’s sixth and his smiles emphasised both the comical nature of the goal and his relief at having finally ended a long running goal drought.

Tiago added a seventh before the end but by now the scoreline had little importance. Portugal will now surely join their former colonial power in the last sixteen. The Portuguese press had slated their national team before the tournament but they will have had little to criticise here. Portugal played a fast paced, clinical game of football, albeit against questionable opposition. They will now face the Seleção with the top spot in the group at stake.

Kaká sent off as Brazil rise to see off Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil 3-1 Côte d’Ivoire

Brazil took a commanding lead in Group G with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Côte d’Ivoire. Luís Fabiano of Sevilla was the hero for the Seleçao, notching the two opening goals. Galatasaray’s Elano added a third before Didier Drogba enkindled brief hopes of a comeback for the Elephants with a late consolation. A bad tempered second half saw numerous bookings, a repulsive tackle from Kader Keita on Michel Bastos and a potentially serious injury to Elano. The bearer of the famous number 10 shirt of Brazil, Kaká, was sent off in dubious fashion by Stephane Lannoy following a shameful deception by Kader Keita.

 

Many fans were disappointed with Brazil’s lack of penetration against North Korea in the opening game but there can be no such criticisms following their victory here. The Seleçao took full advantage of every opportunity presented to them by the Ivory Coast and took the lead in the 24th minute via a clinical finish from Luís Fabiano. Kaká has struggled for fitness and form this past season but will have been pleased to see his measured through pass lead to a goal. The Real Madrid midfielder’s pass was taken in stride by Luís Fabiano, who revealed tremendous concentration to slow the ball before clinically finishing into the top corner.

Didier Drogba and the Côte d’Ivoire were stunned by the goal. Prior to falling behind, the Ivorians had produced some high tempo movement and passing but were thwarted by their inability to secure that elusive final ‘killer’ pass.

Brazil slowly manhandled the Côte d’Ivoire out of the match and were unperturbed throughout the remainder of the first half.

 

Brazil doubled their lead just five minutes after the restart. Fabiano again the scorer, this time with an even more impressive effort. The Sevilla forward flicked the ball over the head of one defender, then another before controlling the ball with his shoulder and unleashing a half-volley towards goal. Boubacar Barry was helpless. It was a tremendous moment of artistry, one worthy of the coveted number 9 shirt inherited from such magicians as Ronaldo and Tostao.

Some will point to the replays and what appeared to be two debatable instances of handball but the moment of inspiration was certainly worthy of a goal. Luís Fabiano’s efforts had effectively ended the match as a footballing contest.

The introduction of Gervinho for the lamentable Aruna Dindane did imbue some vigor into the Ivorian side. His slipperiness and willingness to try and beat defenders was sorely missed in the first half.

Slow and steady became quick and expressive for Brazil around the hour mark. Wingback Maicon, the scorer of that impossible goal against North Korea, marauded down the right flank and found Robinho, who in turn laid off for Kaká. A shot soon followed but was safely slapped away by Barry. Do not mourn for Joga Bonito for it has endured. The efficiency of Dunga’s Brazil may sometimes mask the exuberant element to his side but moments of swift interchanging still surface and we were beginning to catch rare glimpses of it.

Brazil soon added to their advantage. Kaká was finally finding his form again, beating Tiené effortleslly before gliding a pass along the turf for Elano who diverted it into the net. In the process he registered his second goal of the tournament in as many games.

Elano will be thankful that he reinserted his shinguards after removing them in his goal celebration. The former Manchester City midfielder was brought from the field by stretcher following a nasty tackle. The match was quickly becoming ill-tempered.

Brazil continued to display flashes of excellence. One touch passing set Maicon on another jaunt into the Ivorian half, this time he thrilled the 84,000 in attendance with a perfectly executed nutmeg.

Tioté should have been dismissed by Stephane Lannoy following a horrific challenge on Michel Bastos, who himself was lucky that he was not seriously injured by the Tioté’s recklessness.

The Côte d’Ivoire had been poor at creating chances in both this match and their previous fixture with Portugal. They created their first goal of the tournament out from nowhere. Gervinho was in an expanse of space in the centre of the field. It was there that he decided to embark on a rampage past three Brazilian defenders before he ended up at the byline. The Lille player spotted Romaric’s late run towards the penalty area and offloaded. Romaric himself showing terrific awareness to loft the ball onto Didier Drogba’s head after his captain’s well timed run. Drogba headed home and returned the ball hurriedly to the centre-circle.

The heated second half culminated with the dismissal of Kaká for a second bookable offence. The Brazilian star backed into Kader Keita and appeared to have his elbow slightly elevated into the Ivorian’s chest making Keita’s writhing fall to the floor all the more dispicable. Keita covered his face, conning the referee’s assistant into believing that Kaká had violently lashed out at the Galatasaray winger.

An appeal will surely follow for Kaká. In any instance, missing a somewhat meaningless game against Portugal will be of no great harm to Brazil’s World Cup ambitions.

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 5

Winners


Brazil

Two moments of magic did little to disguise a fairly rote and disappointing Brazil performance. Fantastical scorelines were predicted before kick off, and while anyone who paid attention to Dunga’s defensive tactics throughout their qualifying campaign would have known not to expect a massive rout but 2-1 is a shocking result despite the best defensive efforts of the North Koreans.

Consider that Brazil are second favourites while North Korea are currently listed with odds of 2000/1 and you would expect a routine and comfortable victory from the five-times champions. The jury is still very much out on Brazil and the knives are already being sharpened for Dunga.

Maicon

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant it. (Ed: Definitely meant it)


North Korea

Lost the game but won our hearts. From Jong Tae Se crying during his national anthem to their gritty determination to a well-deserved consolation goal, North Korea tore up the script and while their game was undoubtedly defensive, they played with conviction and spirit that was unexpected from everyone who wrote them off.

Ji Yun Nam

A statue to commemorate his “winning” goal against Brazil is no doubt being erected in North Korea as we speak.

New Zealand

Provided some much-needed drama with their late equaliser and felt like winners in the process.

Losers


Dunga

He’s no Joachim Low.

Hopeful spectators

From blogs to forums to the man in the pub, it seems South Africa 2010 is being viewed as something of a letdown thus far. On the evidence of the last two days it is difficult to argue. The highly anticipated contest between Portugal and the Ivory Coast promised much but delivered a tedious and irritating scoreless draw. The optimists among us are speculating that teams are playing their opening matches with extreme caution out of fear of coming away with no points. That theory remains to be seen but gives added spice to the forthcoming second round of group matches. Fingers crossed.

Portugal

How the mighty have fallen. Dreadful in qualifying, barely scraped through their playoff and lifeless in their opening tournament match, Carlos Quieroz and his players need to stop the rot very quickly before they find themselves booking flights home on June 25th.

Cristiano Ronaldo

It took just six minutes for Portugal’s petulant prima-donna to hit the deck, exaggerating the contact made by Didier Zokora and urging the referee to book the former Tottenham player, which he duly did. Fifteen minutes later he “won” a foul but received a yellow of his own for his reaction to the challenge.

Aside from one stunning shot that rattled the post, the most marketable player in the world was a shadow of his former Manchester United self and looked every bit the footballer who hasn’t scored for his country in sixteen months. Disinterested, childish and lethargic, Ronaldo made a fine captain for a team that are rapidly disintegrating.

Deco

Hauled off after sixty ineffectual minutes, the occasional Chelsea midfielder marked his last major tournament with the type of painfully average and anonymous display he is becoming known for.

Clive Tyldsley

Apparently Maicon’s “did he or didn’t he mean it?” goal was actually a North Korean own goal. Cheers for clearing that up for us Clive.

Robbie Earle

And speaking of bumbling ITV; pundit Robbie Earle was given his marching orders when tickets to games in his name somehow found their way in the hands of 36 women clad in orange mini-dresses. The women were part of a Dutch marketing attempt. Robbie Earle denies he had anything to do with the situation, but he’s an idiot.

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.

Côte D’Ivoire v Portugal

Tuesday brings with it perhaps the most eagerly anticipated fixture of the tournament to date. Côte D’Ivoire (or Ivory Coast) v Portugal is a match of immeasurable importance to both sides. With both teams drawn in Group G alongside Brazil, it is fair to suggest that only one of Côte D’Ivoire and Portugal will progress to the next round.

In the build up to this fixture most of the speculation pertained to the participation of Ivorian Didier Drogba, who sustained a fractured elbow in a World Cup friendly against Japan. Drogba, who captains the Elephants, and will play in today’s game. FIFA have ruled that the Chelsea striker is permitted to wear a protective cast against Portugal. Doubts will remain about Drogba’s mobility and fitness until kick-off.

Portugal’s hopes will be pinned to the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, who impressed for Real Madrid this past season, failed to score a single goal in qualification. The sparsity of goals for Ronaldo is a genuine concern for the Portuguese who have failed to impress without the former Manchester United star at his best. Ronaldo himself has predicted that goals would flow like ‘ketchup from a bottle’ as soon as the first goal arrives.

In a difficult match to predict, the battle in midfield will be crucial. The Portuguese central-midfield duo of Deco and Pepe will be harried by Yaya Touré, Didier Zokora and Romaric. There is a possibility that Carlos Quieroz’s midfield, so important in providing ammunition to Cristiano Ronaldo, Liédson et al, will be overrun. The Ivorian midfield combines an undoubted physical presence but is also capable of splendid football as they release Gervinho and Kalou forward to imperil a stodgy Portuguese back four.

It is rare for an opening fixture at a World Cup to carry such weight and both sides will depend so much on the form of their star attractions, Drogba and Ronaldo respectively. Before the tournament this Ivorian side was hyped as the best African side yet assembled for a World Cup. Today’s clash at Port Elizabeth will tell us so much about whether the hype was justified.

Prediction: Côte d’Ivoire to notch a vital first win. 2-1 to the Elephants