Posts Tagged ‘Gyan’

Day twenty-two saw Brazil’s run come to an end and Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) miss one of the biggest penalty kicks in the history of the World Cup.  It doesn’t top Roberto Baggio’s miss in 1994 but it’s up there.  The Netherlands find a way to fight back against Brazil and Uruguay continues its improbable run to the Finals.  With Brazil gone, it’s anybody’s tournament to win.

One of my darkest moments as a sports fan.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Brazil (2-1)

Goals – Robinho (BRA) 10′, Felipe Melo (BRA) 53′ own goal, Sneijder (NED) 68′

Red Card – Felipe Melo (BRA) 73′

Brazil scored at 10′ and it seemed like this was gonna be another Brazil highlight reel.  The Netherlands could not get anything going in the first half.  Brazil was running them all over the field on offense and were swarming them on defense.  Luckily, the half ended and Brazil was only up 1-0.  Manageable.

The second half started and it was a totally different game.  Brazil slowed its pace, looking content to hold on, and the Netherlands picked it up.  On offense they were stringing passes together and on defense they were coming up big.  An accidental header by Felipe Melo (Juventus) tied the game and Brazil seemed stunned.  Fifteen minutes later Wesley Sneijder (Inter) scores and panic started to set in for Brazil.  Melo then gets red carded for stomping Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the Dutch had the man advantage for the last 17+ minutes of the game.

Brazil tried to go forward but the Netherlands defense was up for it.  Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), a last-minute starter in place of  Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), was brilliant.  He didn’t let anyone get by him and was physical to boot and the Brazilian players hate that.  The final whistle blew and I think most of the world was stunned.

How did Brazil fall apart so quickly to start the second half and how did the Netherlands adjust so quickly?  It was a fantastic game.  Robben, Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) and Sneijder didn’t seem too friendly out there and it seemed like there was some tension between them.  I know the team didn’t take too kindly to Van Persie’s actions after being substituted in the round of sixteen game earlier in the week and that spilled over in to practice.

The referee wasn’t that great and he lost control of the game somewhere late in the first half.  The players didn’t respect him and were jawing all game at him and he didn’t even card anyone for it.  A yellow card early in the game would’ve put an end to that.  Referee Yuichi Nishimura(JPN) always felt the need to explain himself to the players whenever he blew the whistle so there were a lot of conversations between him and the teams.  It’s like he had to validate why he blew the whistle and that’s not a good sign.

Yes i just blew the whitsle now let me tell you why

Brazil did a lot of complaining in this game and obviously the Dutch got under their skin in the second half and threw them off their game.  Usually Brazil does the talking with their play and not their mouths.  Dunga is probably already gone as Brazil’s coach and if he isn’t, he will be soon.  Kaka (Real Madrid) was off but I think the whole Netherlands physicality thing had something to do with it.

Uruguay – Ghana (1-1) (4-2 PSO)

Goals – Muntari (GHA) 45’+2, Forlan (URU) 55′

Red Card – Suarez (URU) 120’+1

What a great game!.  It was back and forth all the way.  Ghana had more time of possession and shots on goal but the difference in the game was some quick thinking from Luis Suarez (Ajax) and a huge miss by Gyan.  Both these teams deserved the result but there had to be one winner.

Sulley Muntari (Inter) was finally deemed good enough to start for the Black Stars and it paid off.  Milovan Rajevic should’ve done more with him in this tournament.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) did a lot of work for Uruguay and was rightfully named Man of the Match.

As I said, the game was back and forth but the result hinged on a late game scramble in front of the Uruguay net.  The game was about to be headed to penalty kicks.  After the second extra time period but just before the whistle could come, Ghana made a late rush and two shots were saved on the goal before a third was saved by a handball from Suarez.  Luis Suarez was on the line and punched the ball out of the air that was destined for the back of the net.  I don’t know who shot it but it was going in if not for the quick thinking of Suarez.  The referee pointed to the spot and Suarez was shown the door.  The penalty kick was going to be the last play of the game.  Make it and the game is over, miss it and we go to penalties.  Asamoah Gyan places the ball down, takes a few steps, takes a shot, the goalie is beaten, CLANK!!!  The referee blew the whistle for time and we have penalties.  How did he miss it?  That has to go down as one of the worst, clutch misses ever but not the worst.  Suarez stayed around near the tunnel to see the outcome.  Once the ball hit off the crossbar he jumped for joy and went to the locker room.  Sure, Luis Suarez is suspended for the Semi-final but he had no other choice.

Ghana was devastated going into the penalty shoot out and after two Ghana misses, Sebastian Abreu (Botafogo) makes Uruguay’s fifth shot and the South Americans move on.  Gyan was inconsolable after the match.  He was crying like a baby.  What a game!  It’s sad that Gyan will be remembered by the miss because he did have a great tournament.

I had a good tournament, really!

Tonight we have Argentina – Germany and Paraguay – Spain.  The winner of the Argentina – Germany game should automatically become the favorite to win the whole thing.  Don’t miss it!  Remember this name: Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen, for now).

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Day sixteen saw the start of the knockout stage round of sixteen games.  Both games were exciting and were in doubt until the final whistle.  Uruguay did enough in the first game to hold off South Korea.  In the second game, the USA didn’t do enough to hold off Ghana.  Now American fans can stop pretending to like soccer and go back to forgetting that soccer is even a sport until 2014 in Brazil.  MLS attendance isn’t going to skyrocket because of the USA’s performance in South Africa and soccer isn’t gonna surpass hockey to be the seventh most popular sport in the USA.  If someone tells you that, they’ve probably been saying the same thing since the 1994 World Cup in America.

on to the games:

Uruguay – South Korea (2-1)

Goals – Suarez (URU) 8′ & 80′, Lee Chung Yong (KOR) 68′

Uruguay scored early and didn’t seem interested in doing much except defending until South Korea scored midway through the second half.  South Korea deserved better.  They controlled the play but were unable to get the ball in the net.  A few posts here and there and they were stuck on one goal.

Luis Suarez’ (Ajax) first goal for Uruguay was odd.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) rolled a pass across the mouth of goal and South Korean keeper Jung Sung Ryong (Seongnam Ilwha Chunma) looked like he was going to steer the ball away but when he stretched, he didn’t quite stretch enough and Suarez was there all alone to put the ball in the net.  I think any other goalie in this tournament would’ve at least gotten a glove on the ball.

Suarez: In the right place at the right time

South Korea kept coming but Uruguay kept stopping them.  Diego Perez (Monaco) was everywhere and would’ve been my choice for Man of the Match if Suarez hadn’t scored two goals.  It probably helped that Perez is a teammate of Park Chu Young at Monaco.  Park Chu Young just couldn’t make the last move on the Uruguay defense.

After Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) scored, Uruguay turned it up again.  Edinson Cavani (Palermo) was building the Uruguay offense from midfield and he was playing both sides of the pitch.  Suarez scored with ten minutes to go but South Korea didn’t give up.  Defender Lee Young Pyo (Al Hilal) was making runs up the left side while his defense partner Cha Du Ri  (SC Frieburg) was doing the same on the right.  Somehow Uruguay was able to stop the final move to goal and they were through to the Quarterfinal.  Diego Forlan was quiet but it seemed Uruguay only really had three real chances to score.  Too bad for South Korea they scored on two of them.

USA – Ghana (1-2, aet)

Goals – Prince-Boateng (GHA) 5′, Donovan (USA) 62′ penalty, Gyan (GHA) 93′

USA had a slight edge in time of possession but it seemed like they controlled the game from the moment after Kevin Prince-Boateng (Portsmouth) scored for Ghana at 5′ until Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) scored at 62′.  Once this game was tied, Ghana seemed more interested in really going forward.  Both teams traded chances until the end of regulation.

Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) scored three minutes into the first extra time and that took a lot out of the Americans.  Ghana held on and they look like a team that can give any team fits.  They’ll be dangerous going forward.  This was the right result.  Ghana is just the better team.  Clint Dempsey (Fulham) was a monster.  He was going forwards and back all through the game.  He was the best player for the USA by far.

Dempsey: The man for the USA

The next set of games are Germany – England and Argentina – Mexico.  Both games should be awesome.  Germany and Argentina should win but who knows.  Maybe England will wake up and maybe Argentina will falter.  Who knows?  Watch, you won’t be disappointed.

Sorry I am a day late with this post.  Sunday was very busy for me and I didn’t get a chance to write down my thoughts on the day’s action.  I’ll try not to let it happen again.

Day nine came and went and we finally have a team advancing (Netherlands) and a team going home (Cameroon).  I can’t believe it took until Group E for someone to be sent packing.  Also, one of my picks to be top scorer in the tournament (Huntelaar) finally made an appearance.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Japan (1-0)

Goal – Sneijder (NED) 53’

Netherlands controlled this game from start to finish.  Some stout defending somehow kept Japan in this game until the final whistle.  This game really should’ve been 2-0 or 3-0.  The only goal came on a rocket of a shot by Wesley Sneijder (Inter).  I’m not joking when I say rocket.  I’m surprised Japan goalkeeper, Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), didn’t break his hands.

What a shot!!!

Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan) finally made an appearance for the Netherlands, albeit for five minutes.  I picked Huntelaar to be among the top scorers in the tournament.  Not so much!  He’s not moving Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) out of the lineup and the emerging Eljero Elia (Hamburg SV) makes it unlikely that Huntelaar can make an impact in this World Cup.  Maybe since the Netherlands are assured a place in round 2, coach Bert Van Marwijk might sit Van Persie against Cameroon to keep him from getting a second yellow card in the tournament.

Ghana – Australia (1-1)

Goals – Holman (AUS) 11’, Gyan (GHA) 25’ penalty

Red Card – Kewell (AUS) 24’

I’d like to thank Australia for showing up for this game.  I didn’t know how they’d respond after the drubbing they took from Germany.  Australia played well from minute one, scored early and were able to just enough to hold off Ghana while being a man down for over sixty minutes.  Australia are still alive, just barely, but that’s more than I  thought after the Germany game.

Harry Kewell (Galatasaray) was furious that referee Roberto Rosetti gave him a red card.  How dare he?  Seriously Harry, how do you expect the referee not to give you a red card when you’re standing on the goal line and the only thing keeping Ghana from tying the game is your arm.  Rosetti had no choice.  I read Kewell was still angry after the match.  Next time don’t block a shot destined for goal with your arm.

If I had to choose the best player in the tournament right now it would be Asamoah Gyan (Rennes).  He’s scored two goals and has been a monster up front.  He’s done a lot of work.

Player of the tournament, so far

Why can’t Sulley Muntari (Inter) get more minutes?

Cameroon – Denmark (1-2)

Goals – Eto’o (CMR) 10’, Bendtner (DEN) 33’, Rommedahl (DEN) 61’

Cameroon played extremely well and probably deserved at least a point but Denmark spoiled the party.  With this result, Cameroon are eliminated and the Netherlands are in round two.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen finally came to his senses and put forward Samuel Eto’o (Inter) in the center of the field where he belongs and not on the right wing.  Eto’o scores early and we’re left to wonder why he was playing out-of-place against Japan?

Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord) started up front alongside Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) to give Denmark a little added punch and it paid off.  I was actually surprised that Bendtner started this game, thinking he had aggravated his leg injury in the last game.  He limped off after being substituted against the Netherlands.  Daniel Agger (Liverpool) played well and was named Man of the Match.  I hardly noticed him in the last game against the Dutch.  Simon Kjaer (Palermo) will miss the final game of the group, a crucial match against Japan.  The Danish defender picked up his second yellow of the tournament at 87’.  Stupid!

Thanks for showing up this time

Cameroon controlled possession, had more shots on goal but actual goals are what matter.  Cameroon is the most talented African team in the World Cup but they just couldn’t get it done.  They’ll go home later in the week and Le Guen will probably be fired, rightfully so.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (4),  France (1), South Africa (1)

Group B:

Argentina (6), South Korea (3), Greece (3), Nigeria (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (4), USA (2), England (2), Algeria (1)

Group D:

Ghana (4), Germany (3), Serbia (3), Australia (1)

Group E:

Netherlands (6), Japan (3), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands advance, Cameroon eliminated

Group F:

Paraguay (1), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (3), Ivory Coast (1), Portugal (1), North Korea (0)

Group H

Chile (3), Switzerland (3), Spain (0), Honduras (0)

After a great day of soccer on Saturday, the first two games on Sunday tried their hardest to set the game of soccer back.  Luckily, Germany were their usual, machine self and brought a nice end to the day’s matches.  Algeria – Slovenia and Serbia – Ghana weren’t gonna bring any new fans to the sport and most likely strengthened the argument against soccer.  This argument only takes place in the USA because the rest of the world is already on board.

The horns are still annoying but not just because of the constant buzzing sound throughout the game.  Those damn Vuvuzelas completely drown out the crowd noise so you can’t hear the supporters in the stands when something big happens.  The crowd reaction and atmosphere are a big part of my enjoyment and I’m getting none of it.  Luckily, the Korean announcers on SBS are very energetic and exciteable or else I might as well watch the game with the sound off.  There’s word that the World Cup organizing committee would consider banning the vuvuzela from inside the stadiums but only if necessary.  It’s so necessary.

On to the games:

Algeria – Slovenia (0-1)

Goal – Koren (SVN) 79’

Red Card – Ghezzal (ALG) 73’, two yellows

This game was pretty much bad from start to finish.  The game was loose and sloppy from the first minute.  I thought both these teams would be better but I was wrong.  This game had tie written all over it but some shoddy defending and goalkeeping by the Algerians gave Slovenia the win and now Slovenia sits atop Group C.  Go figure.  I did like the green Charlie Brown jerseys worn by Slovenia.

Like Slovenia's jerseys, except green

Algeria started the game in a 4-5-1 which hardly ever works since your forward is all alone in the middle of the field waiting for service.  Neither team was in a rush to score and passes were being missed all over the place.  Algeria did a lot of complaining throughout the match.  Both teams were physical and I wrote in my notebook at 36’ that there would be a red card in this game.  At minute 73, Abdelkadar Ghezzal (Siena) decides that since the pass is over his head maybe he should stick his arm out and try to stop it.  Maybe nobody will notice.  The referee did and it was a yellow for Ghezzal.  Too bad it was his second yellow since coming on for Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens) at 59’.  Ghezzal came into the game and immediately got a yellow for a rough tackle.  Nice!

At 79’ Robert Koren (West Bromwich Albion) gets the ball outside the box, to the left and since the defenders decided not to make a move on him, he dribbled to the top of the box before anyone closed in on him and took an average shot that bounced and went into the net.  The goalie looked real bad.  Maybe he was screened or maybe the Jubulani World Cup ball really does suck.  The Jabulani has been flying and taking some odd bounces this entire tournament.  Maybe the players are right, this ball does suck.

Bad ball or bad goalkeeping. How about both?

Serbia – Ghana (0-1)

Goal – Gyan (GHA) 85′ penalty

Red Card – Lukovic (SRB) 74′, two yellows

I was surprised at the Ghana lineup when I noticed both Sulley Muntari (Inter) and Stephen Appiah (Bologna) were being left out.  Appiah came on at 73′ but Muntari was never used.  Luckily, Ghana did just fine without them in the starting lineup.  Not that Ghana played that well but neither did Serbia and a late penalty was all Ghana needed to win this game.

What was wrong with Serbia?  The lineup looked good on paper but that’s it.  With Marko Pantelic (Ajax) and the 6 foot 7 Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) up front I thought Serbia could cause problems and score a few goals.  I was way off.  I don’t know exactly where Zigic was playing.  He spent a lot of time around the midfield circle and even got a yellow for a challenge near Serbia’s defense.  Why would a tall, gifted forward be anywhere but in or around the Ghana third of the field.  Since Zigic was strolling around the pitch, Pantelic was left all alone up on the right front trying to catch up to bad Serbian passes and crosses.  Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow) did his best in the midfield but he too was on the right.  The first half was all played on the right side.  Mix it up a little, there were other players on the left.

Zigic, tall forwards shouldn't be anywhere near the midfield

In the second half, Zigic decided that he was a forward and played more in the attacking zone but the passes still were off.  Both teams played some pretty bad soccer.  Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese) was shown red  at 74′ after getting his second yellow and Serbia were down to ten men.  Ghana started to put pressure from this point on and it paid off at 82′ when they were awarded a penalty after Zdravko Kuzmanovic (VfB Stuttgart) decided to reach out and touch a cross from Ghana’s Andre Ayew (Arles).  Silly play.  Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) converted and that was it.  Gyan was by far the best player on the field.  Hopefully both teams can tighten things up and play better in the next game.

Germany – Australia (4-0)

Goals – Podolski (GER) 8′, Klose (GER) 26′, Mueller (GER) 68′, Cacau (GER) 70′

Red Card – Cahill (AUS) 56′

Not much to say here except that Germany OWNED Australia.  They put on a clinic.  Australia had an early chance at 3′ but Richard Garcia (Hull City) had his shot cleared by Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich).  It was all Germany after that.  Australia could not keep up with the constant German pressure.  Then, Tim Cahill (Everton) gets himself sent off after a rough challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).  Cahill actually looked surprised when he was shown the red.  Tim, if you come in on a player from the side with your knees, you’re gonna see red.  Plus Schweinsteiger didn’t even have the ball at that point.  Nice play Tim.

Different game, same outcome for Cahill

If Germany can keep up this attacking pace, not scoring pace, they will be hard to beat.  In my preview I told you not to expect too much from Australia.  I still stand by that.  No Cahill against Ghana, no chance.  Germany is by far the best team to have played so far.  Solid in every part of the game.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

South Africa (1), Mexico (1), Uruguay (1), France (1)

Group B:

South Korea (3), Argentina (3), Nigeria (0), Greece (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (3), USA (1), England (1), Algeria (0)

Group D:

Germany (3), Ghana (3), Serbia (0), Australia (0)