Latin American teams dominate WCup

2010-06-26 06:14

Spain, Chile and Portugal have joined Brazil in the last 16 of the

World Cup, but the glittering football promised by the world’s leading teams was

missing as nerves took their toll on flair.

David Villa and Andres Iniesta scored a goal each to help Spain

beat 10-man Chile 2-1 and send both teams through from Group H. Spain now meet

Iberian neighbours Portugal on Tuesday in Cape Town.

Villa scored a spectacular goal from 45 metres in the 24th minute

at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria. He ran on to a loose ball and curled a left-footed

shot into an open goal after Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had rushed out of

the area to clear the ball.

Marco Estrada was sent off after being booked for a second time

during the build-up to the second goal. Drafted into the side to replace the

suspended Carlos Carmona as holding midfielder, Estrada was first booked in the

21st and shown a red card for tripping Fernando Torres. Replays raised doubts as

to whether there was any contact, and if there was, it looked accidental.

Referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico had already shown a controversial

red card to Australia’s Tim Cahill in an earlier match and Estrada’s was his

second.

In the other Group H game, Honduras held Switzerland to a 0-0 draw

– a result that knocked both teams out.

On a day when Latin American teams confirmed their dominance of the

World Cup, with six teams represented in the last 16, Brazil and Portugal played

out an ill-tempered 0-0 draw in which seven players were booked in the first

half. Both teams calmed down and settled for the draw that Portugal needed to

join Brazil, which had already qualified. Brazil now play Chile in Johannesburg

on Monday.

Boring game

Brazil was not taking any responsibility for the 0-0 draw, saying

Portugal’s defensive setup prevented the much-anticipated match from being a

spectacle.

“It’s really boring when we have to play against an opponent with

11 players at the back, only trying to draw,” Brazil striker Luís Fabiano

said.

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz said his side “advanced on its own

merit and now we have to start thinking about our next matches.”

In the other Group G game, Ivory Coast beat North Korea 3-0 but

both teams were eliminated. Ivory Coast scored through Yaya Toure, Koffi Romaric

N’Dri and Salomon Kalou.

North Korea finished a distant last in Group G, clearly outclassed

by their opponents, scoring just once and conceding 12 goals. Hopes of a repeat

of its famous performance in 1966, when it beat Italy, faded quickly.

The round of 16 gets underway today in Port Elizabeth with Uruguay

playing South Korea, which has reached the second stage for just the second

time. Ghana faces the United States in Rustenburg.

Europe’s focus will be on Germany-England in Bloemfontein on Sunday

– a fixture that has been closely fought for decades, starting in the 1966 World

Cup final.

The repercussions from Italy’s shock exit were felt Friday.


Shock exit
Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete called for

structural reform of the game at home. Captain Fabio Cannavaro (36) announced

his international retirement.

“We all know the importance of football in our country and we’ve

disappointed tens of millions of fans,” Abete said. “We have to be realists.

These are the facts. We need to reflect on the structural crisis of Italian

football.”

Africa was also reflecting on a disappointment, with only Ghana

progressing as Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast and host South Africa

made group-stage exits.

Former South Africa coach Jomo Sono said the host team should have

done better in this World Cup given the amount of money it pumped into the

team.

Sono also told a Fifa press briefing that only Ghana and Algeria

played as a unit, and that in future Africa’s teams need to learn that working

as a collective is more important than relying on individuals.

 

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