Saturday, 3 July 2010

Brazil and Ghana out of the World Cup

Friday in South Africa produced two marvellously exciting World Cup Quarter Finals that have set the tournament alight. Brazil, the favourites to lift the trophy were dumped out by the Dutch, and Ghana left the tournament after Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty in the last seconds of extra time.

Brazil lost to Holland in a very uncharacteristic way, despite taking the lead early in the first half. Their inability to defend properly from a short free kick and a near post corner was surprising to say the least. The Brazilian public looked as though they were starting to accept Dunga’s approach after witnessing their team masterfully move through the rounds looking almost impenetrable at the back. An apparent lack of flair and attacking intent was seen as this team’s only possible weakness, yet indiscipline and sloppy defending ultimately cost Dunga’s team. Holland were very poor in the first half, and looked to be heading out at half time. However, they played much better in the second half, and put the Brazilian defence under enough pressure to force an error which dragged them back into the match. Holland’s second goal was both basic and brilliant, with the simplest of near post flicks from Dirk Kuyt providing Wesley Sneijder with a header that couldn't be missed. Felipe Melo was very reckless and stupid to get himself sent off and Brazil could not find a way back. Holland did provide Brazil’s first test of the World Cup, and Brazil failed it.

If the first Quarter Final was exciting, the second was World Cup drama at its best. Ghana and Uruguay ended with Uruguay going through on penalties, but things could have been so different. Sulley Muntari put Ghana ahead at the end of the first half with a great long range effort, and Diego Forlan equalised in the 55th minute. Forlan crushed a free kick from the left corner of the eighteen yard box which rifled into the top right hand corner of the net, a simply sensational strike from a fantastic player. It was Forlan’s third goal of the tournament, and his second from long range. The game ended a draw and went into extra time. As the extra time neared its end, penalties awaited, but one more moment of drama was left in the match. Luis Suarez handled on the line in the last minute of extra time, got sent off and gave away a penalty. Up stepped Asamoah Gyan with the last kick of the game, to send Ghana into the Semi Final, but he smashed his shot against the crossbar. Uruguay won the shoot-out with a magnificent final penalty, but Gyan’s pain was difficult to watch at the end. Such a shame for Ghana and Gyan.

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