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World Cup – Day 3

Algeria 0 – Slovenia 1

This first half of this game was enjoyable.  Algeria held their own in possession, but Slovenia had the more menacing attack.  The Algerian goalie did well to keep them in the game.  In the 3rd minute was the first free kick that was actually brought down over the wall and onto goal.

The second half was less entertaining, but more eventful.  The Algerian Ghazzel came on at 58′, got a silly yellow for a shirt pull at 60′, and an even sillier second yellow foe a deliberate handball on 73′.  However, Slovenia didn’t make much of it, and the only goal came from a goalkeeping blunder, which was ironic given how well the Slovenian goalie played otherwise.  It wasn’t as bad as the “Hand of Clod“, but it was bad.

I think a draw would have been a more just outcome, and would have been a better one for the USA. Slovenia is not in the driver seat in Group C, although the road is rough.  They get two points from England and the USA they should advance.

Serbia 0 – Ghana 1

Given the small size of both countries, this game had a surprising number of very high level players, and the quality of play reflected it.  The referee allowed some rough play early on, and the match got “chippy” as a result.  Ghana looked better in the first half, but both sides generated a good chances in the first half.  The game got more physical in the second half, and there were far fewer chances.

The game got interesting when the Serb defender Lukovic was (properly) sent off for a second hard challenge. The Serbian attack actually got more potent short a man, and they had the best of the action for a while.  Then game got fascinating when the Serb Kuzmanovic stuck out his arm to deflect a cross in the box and a PK was awarded.  Asamoah Gyan converted, scoring the first African goal in the first African World Cup, and giving Ghana the first African victory.

A number of commentators have indicated that Serbia was unlucky. I disagree. The sending off was justified, and was coming due to the rough Serbian defending.  The handball was a bad mistake, but had the cross gotten to it’s target a goal was quite possible.

Germany 4 – Australia 0

Germany was fabulous, Australia wasn’t. It is good for Germany that Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, who had poor club seasons, both scored in the first half. The Germans moved well, passed well, and generated eight to ten great chances that didn’t score. After Tim Cahill was sent off, the game became hard for me to watch.

This was the first game where I wasn’t impressed with the officiating, although it was irrelevant to the outcome. Cahill’s red card was really, really harsh, and followed a series of soft cautions to the Australians. A number of more dangerous challenges earlier in the tournament resulted in only yellow.  I suspect the Aussie’s rep combined with the FIFA direction to be harsh on rough play led the referee to be draconian. I also think Australia should have a penalty at 48′ for the handball in the box.

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