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World Cup Day 2

This was a big day!

South Korea 2 – Greece 0

Greece was just terrible.  South Korea did not look great (they gave the ball away frequently, and their central defense seemed weak), but they dominated the game. The first Korean goal was scored on a well-struck corner that fell to an unmarked Korean on the back post.  The second goal was scored when Park Ji Sung (the Manchester United midfielder) intercepted a lazy pass around midfield, dribbled past two Greek defenders, and tapped the ball nicely past the Greek goalkeeper.  And they blew at least two more gilt-edged chances. Greece only had one real chance, which was stopped nicely by the Korean keeper.

Argentina 1 – Nigeria 0

Argentina’s offense (particularly Lionel Messi) just took Nigeria apart, although they could only put one in the goal. The Nigerian goalie (Vincent Enyeama) was phenomenal. The lone goal was a sweet header by Gabriel Heinze, off of a corner kick, that was perfectly placed in the top corner out of reach of the post defender.  Argentina’s defense was not in the same league as their offense, however.  Nigeria had several solid chances, but took them poorly.  Argentina will advance from this group, but at this point, I don’t see Argentina getting by either Mexico or France from Group A in the first knockout round.

USA 1 – England 1

I also enjoyed this game!  Clearly, the US goal was a stroke of luck, but as frequently happens in the beautiful game, the outcome was just.  Gerrard’s goal for England was thing of beauty .. he charged diagonally toward the left post, wasn’t well marked, and Heskey got him the ball after a lucky bounce. Gerrard executed the finish beautifully. Poor defending by the US center-defenders was punished. The defense did OK after that.  Tim Howard had a tremendous game in the US goal.  His English counterpart can’t say the same.  The USA goal was a gift from England goalie Robert Green, who mis-handled a routine 25 yard shot from Clint Dempsey.  Green did have a couple of good saves later in the match.

This game was good for the American’s.  Their advancement out of the bracket is likely and they have a shot to win the group.  And more important, they demonstrated, for real, that they can play with the best of them on the big stage.  This game was  not good for the Three Lions.  They were expecting to destroy the USA, and didn’t.

I think the referees did a reasonable job in this game.  The Heskey/Rooney offside call was correct, because once Heskey tried to play the ball he becomes “active” and so is committing the infraction even if he isn’t successful. Heskey should have been booked for the challenge on Howard in the 28th minute, which was really late and quite reckless. Carragher could have seen red rather than yellow for the challenge on Altidore.  But the highly emotional game was kept under control nicely by the referee.

As an amusing aside .. apparently the HD feed to England was not working properly early in the game, and the English fans missed Gerrard’s goal. I imagine that went over well!

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