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World Cup – Day 15, Group H

This is an interesting group .. before play started Chile was on 6 pts +2 GD, Spain on 3 pts +1GD, Switzerland on 3 pts 0 GD, and Honduras on 0 points -3GD.  The permutations were fascinating.  Collusion for a draw between Chile and Spain was on many minds, as a draw would put them both through while a Spanish loss would put them third (and out) if the other game was lopsided, and a Chilean loss would put them out if the Swiss won by enough to cover the GD.

Switzerland 0 vs. Honduras 0

I favored Honduras going in, as they have more attacking flair and a draw does neither team any good. I was wrong, as both teams played open, attacking soccer.  I enjoyed the game, despite the lack of goals.  Both teams had a number of clear chances, but neither could convert.

Chile 1 vs. Spain 2

The games was very open and fun to watch.  Chile gifted Spain a goal on 24′, when the Chilean goalie Claudio Bravo came 20+ yards out to challenge a long ball to a well-defended Fernando Torres, and sent it to David Villa instead of into the seats.  Villa calmly volleyed the ball 40 yards into the goal. Spain’s second on 37′ was a beauty from Andres Iniesta, setup by Xavi Alonso and Villa. To add insult to injury, earlier on the same play Torres was accidentally tripped dove, play acted and conned the referee, and Marco Estrada was sent off after the goal. I hope FIFA has the stones to suspend Torres for the clear, blatant, cynical dive.  I am a Liverpool fan and a Torres fan, but it was shameful.

However, Chile kept their composure and pulled a goal back right after half-time, which had to calm them as a 2 goal defeat combined with a Swiss win would have sent them home! Half-time sub Rodrigo Villar shot from distance and a lucky deflection off Gerard Pique sent the ball looping over Spanish goalie Iker Casillas and into the net. Spain hunkered down on defense, determined to preserve their advancement, and Chile could make nothing else substantial.

In the end, both teams advanced.  Spain took first and will play Portugal on Tuesday (29-June), and Chile will play Brazil on Monday (28-June).

UPDATE: After viewing the video of the Estrada second yellow incident more carefully,  I have to admit it wasn’t a dive .. clearly Estrada’s knee hits Torres’ right foot, so he was indeed tripped. I would still call it “cheating” because of the cynical play acting. The trip is clearly accidental, so the card should be revoked to allow Estrada to play the next game.

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