Month: June 2014

The Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

Two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar provided Dutch delight as Holland reached the last eight with a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Louis Van Gaal’s exciting side sealed the win deep into added time when Huntelaar converted a penalty won by Arjen Robben. The player of the tournament contender was fouled by Rafael Marquez but with minimal contact. Robben showing the other meaning to his “Flying Dutchman” nickname.

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos provided the opener for the Mexicans three minutes into the second half with a long distance half volley that gave Jasper Cillessen no chance in the Holland goal.

Sneijder equalized for the Netherlands with an equally impressive half volley, Robben’s corner was headed back by substitute Huntelaar into the path of the Galatasaray play-maker who let the ball bounce before smashing it past Guillermo Ochoa and in with two minutes left on the clock.

On what was ultimately a sad day for Mexico, Goalkeeper Ochoa provided one shining light for El Tri, another superb performance from him to illustrate further his credentials as being named the ‘keeper of this World Cup.

His highlight being when he magnificently kept out a Stefan de Vrij header that he tipped onto the bar and out from point blank range.

It is Holland who go onto the Quarter Finals however and they will meet the victor of Costa Rica and Greece.

 

Brazil 1-1 Chile (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties)

Hosts Brazil booked their place in the Quarter Finals with a win over Chile but had to rely on a penalty shootout.

Gonzalo Jara, recently released by Nottingham Forest, had the unenviable role of having to score the deciding penalty but his spot-kick hit the post and away to send Brazil through.

David Luiz, Marcelo and Neymar all netted from twelve yards for El Selecao while Maurico Panilla, Alexis Sanchez and Charles Aranguiz could not convert for Chile.

Paris Saint-Germain’s latest signing Luiz kneed the Brazilians in front 18 minutes in after Thiago Silva headed on Neymar’s corner for a simple finish for his new teammate.

Sanchez leveled the scores after 32 minutes when Brazil lost the ball cheaply from a throw in in their own half. Sanchez slotted home past Julio Cesar with ease after being given the time and space by the Brazilian back line.

Chile almost spoiled the party in the last minute of extra time but Pinilla could only hit the bar with a fierce drive in the dying seconds.

Brazil thought they had a winner ten minutes into the second half when Hulk shinned in an effort but after consideration from his linesman, Howard Webb ruled that the Zenit man controlled the ball with his arm.

Hulk also should have made it 2-1 to Brazil seven minutes before the end but had his shot brilliantly saved by Claudio Bravo.

The two teams had to settle for penalties though and it was Brazil who would book themselves a spot in the last eight.

 

 

Bury sign Kelvin Etuhu

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League 2 side Bury have announced the acquisition of Kelvin Etuhu following his departure from Barnsley.

The 26-year-old made 10 appearances for Premier League Manchester City between 2006 and 2011, scoring one goal against Bolton Wanderers in December of 2007.

Nigerian born Midfielder Etuhu has also spent time at the likes of Rochdale, Leicester and Cardiff as well as a brief spell at Portsmouth in 2012.

Etuhu featured 46 times for Barnsley in his two years at the club but following relegation to League 1 last season, the Tykes deemed him surplus to requirements.

Bury have added Etuhu to an increasing list of summer transfers with the likes of Pablo Mills, Ryan Lowe and Shwan Jalal all joining from Rotherham, Tranmere and Bournemouth respectively as the Shakers aim to get promoted back to the third tier.

QPR look to lead race for Cardiff’s Caulker

Newly promoted Premiership side Queens Park Rangers hope to beat a number of established top flight clubs to the signing of Steven Caulker according to the Express.

Caulker, 22, is also attracting interest from the likes of Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Southampton following Cardiff City’s relegation back to the Championship.

The Cardiff defender is reportedly most keen on a switch to Goodison Park.

Southampton are believed to lodge interest in the former Tottenham man should they lose Dejan Lovren this transfer window while Arsenal and Liverpool want to add more English players to their squads.

QPR however will be hoping their ability to offer a lucrative wage will be enough to bring Caulker back to the capital.

Harry Redknapp’s side were promoted to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs this season thanks to Bobby Zamora’s last minute winner against Derby at Wembley.

Nigeria 2-3 Argentina: Messi provides magic as Argentina march on

Two goals from Lionel Messi sent Argentina through from Group F as winners while opponents Nigeria will join them in the next round.

Messi’s second, his 24th goal in his last 23 games for his country, was a sublime swerving free-kick in first half stoppage time that left Vincent Enyeama with no chance. The Lille Goalkeeper just left to admire it like the rest of us.

Argentina’s star opened the scoring after just three minutes when he smashed home Angel di Maria’s rebounded effort following an ingenious through ball by Javier Mascherano.

The winner came from a more unlikely source though when Marcos Rojo bundled in a corner off his knee, not knowing much about it, but they all count.

Man of the match Messi was substituted in the second half as a precaution for the latter stages of his tournament, his two goals being a nice belated present for the man who turned 27 yesterday.

Ahmed Musa had an equally impressive game for the Super Eagles with a brace of his own.

His first, a curled effort from a relatively tight angle on the left hand side of the box that was beyond Sergio Romero and nestled in the corner for 1-1, seconds after Messi’s opener.

Musa tied the scoring again in the second half, again shortly after Messi had given Argentina the lead, two minutes after this time. Musa muscled his way through several challenges before cooly finishing past Romero for 2-2.

It was La Albiceleste who picked up the three points though but Nigeria are also through to the last 16 as Bosnia defeated Iran 3-1 in Salvador.

Sergio Aguero limped off in the opening period however and Argentina will be hoping his tournament is not over.

 

Cameroon 1-4 Brazil: Brilliant Brazil bound for second round

Neymar

Hosts Brazil cemented their spot as group winners with a comfortable 1-4 win over pointless Cameroon. A brace from Neymar along with one each from Fred and Fernandinho set up a round 2 meeting with Chile.

Neymar gave Brazil the lead in Brasilia when he side footed Luiz Gustavo’s cross first time past Charles Intandje who had no chance

The face of the tournament doubled his tally with 35 minutes played when he dribbled past some Cameroon defenders and finished past Intandje with style again, sending him the wrong way with an accurate finish.

Fred sealed the win with a close range header from David Luiz’s cross five minutes into the second half to kill off Cameroon’s hopes of a shock.

Cameroon had infact leveled the scores nine minutes after going behind with Joel Matip tapping home his first goal for the Indomitable Lions, turning home Allan Nyom’s squared pass.

Neymar had chances to get a third for Brazil, no closer when his volley was palmed out and away by former Liverpool Goalkeeper Intandje with 20 minutes played.

He never did get his illusive hat-trick though and was replaced by Willian in the closing stages as a precaution for the latter stages of the competition.

A neat passing move provided the fourth and final goal for Brazil.  After they capitalized on a poor free-kick from Cameroon, Oscar fed Fernandinho who gave it to Fred, to Oscar, and then back to Fernandinho around the edge of the box and the Manchester City play-maker tucked it in first time for 1-4.

Elsewhere in Group A, Mexico defeated Croatia 1-3 with goals from Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez which sets up a last 16 tie with Group B winners The Netherlands.

Switzerland 2-5 France: Sorry Switzerland flattened by France

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France all but secured their passage through to the next round with a resounding 2-5 win over neighbours Switzerland in the highest scoring game of the World Cup thus far. Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko provided the France goals in a largely one-sided affair.

Two goals in two minutes killed Switzerland off early on in the match. The first coming when Giroud headed in Valbuena’s corner. Diego Benaglio could have done better with it but had a defender in his way that may have put him off.

Benaglio appeared to still be dwelling on the last goal but found himself picking the ball out of his net soon after. Just 13 seconds from the kick-off, France were two goals to the good. A dreadful pass by Valon Behrami was snatched upon by Benzema who fed Matuidi on his left who beat Benaglio at his near post.

It was 0-3 five minutes before half time when France broke on the counter attack. An intelligent pass from Raphael Varane found Giroud who bursted down the left and squared it to Valbuena who tapped home the third.

Les Blues should have even been four up at the break but Benzema had a penalty saved well by Benaglio after Johan Djourou fouled him in the box. Yohan Cabaye hit a rebound onto the post and out from close range.

They did have their fourth after 67 minutes though when substitute Paul Pogba’s silky pass with the outside of the boot was finished by Benzema through Benaglio’s legs after Phillipe Senderos’ attempted clearance contacted with nothing but air.

France had a fifth six minutes later when Moussa Sissoko slotted in first time. Gohkan Inler lost the ball in the midfield, France worked it to Benzema on the edge of the box who found the Newcastle man with a pass that resembled Pele’s to Carlos Alberto in the 1970 World Cup final and like Alberto, Sissoko scored with consummate ease.

Switzerland did hit back with a consolation in the last ten minutes thanks to the first goal scored from a direct free-kick with Blerim Dzemaili taking the honour. It was fortunate though as the French wall allowed it to drift through them when it should have been blocked easily.

Granit Xhaka scored a second for the Swiss three minutes from time, sweeping home a controlled volley but it was too little too late for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side.

Benzema did in fact score again when he curled home a fantastic effort from the edge of box but, in a minor blow to his Golden Boot chances, the final whistle had already gone.

Italy 0-1 Costa Rica

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The World Cup surprise package Costa Rica produced their second shock win, defeating Italy 0-1 in a result that sent the underdogs through and knocked England out.

Bryan Ruiz provided the goal one minute before half time when he headed home Junior Diaz’s superb cross from the left hand side off the underside of the bar and in.

It was perhaps justice done as just before Costa Rica should have had a penalty when Joel Campbell was bundled over by Giorgio Chiellini.

In what was a game of few clear cut chances, Andrea Pirlo had Italy’s closest effort when his long-range free-kick was beaten away by Keylor Navas.

Despite the attacking introductions of Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne, Italy could not find the leveler and Costa Rica held on for a historic win that sees them reach round 2 of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Ironically held in Italy.

Italy now face a do-or-die clash with Uruguay next Tuesday where the winner will join Costa Rica in the last 16.

Change needed for England? Again?

Following what looks to be England’s latest failing at a major tournament, there are yet again calls for major overhaul.

After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where England crashed out in the last 16 with a 4-1 hammering by rivals Germany, the Three Lions were encouraged to base their style on the tiki-taka of Spain who went on to win the coveted trophy.

St George’s Park was built with this philosophy grained into it and the effects have been predicted to come to fruition for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

The problem now however is that tiki-taka looks tiki-toast after Spain themselves were dumped out the group stages this summer by The Netherlands and Chile.

To Roy Hodgson’s credit, England did play the positive attacking football in their opener against Italy and were arguably the better side but Uruguay was a different story as static, nervous England seemed to be back as the pressure looked to have got to them.

England need to create their own identity, possibly starting with a new Captain.

Steven Gerrard has come into particular light as the 34-year-old has probably waved goodbye to the World Cup due to his age and it did not end on a high, his header setting up Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez’s winner to all but send England home.

Liverpool’s iconic hero has been a loyal servant to his country with some fantastic highs including scoring the equalizer in England’s famous 1-5 win over Germany in 2001, scoring a brilliant goal against Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006 and of course his crucial World Cup qualifying goals against the likes of Croatia for 2010 and Poland for 2014.

Along with this though, he has had his lows including a dodgy back-pass at Euro 2004 against France which led to Thierry Henry being fouled for Zinedine Zidane’s winning penalty as well as the Uruguay gaffe.

If Gerrard is replaced, either by choice through International retirement, or by force as Hodgson continues to build for the future, who could replace him?

Joe Hart: The England goalkeeper would be a popular choice among fans as he is one of few England players who has a safe spot in Hodgson’s starting eleven.

Two time Premiership winner with Manchester City, Hart, has established himself as England’s number one after Robert Green’s high profile error against the United States at the last World Cup and then number two David James has since retired.

Hart is a known leader on the pitch, often seen barking instructions from his penalty box and is refreshingly honest in interviews, something that adheres to England supporters as he is one of very few players who embodies himself among fans as “one of them”.

It is a myth that England players do not care about their national side as much as the fans but Hart is a rare example of someone who truly proves this. Perfect Captain material.

Wearing his Hart on his shoulder: England's number one.

Wearing his Hart on his sleeve: England’s number one.

Gary Cahill: John Terry’s partner in the heart of Chelsea’s defense is starting to emerge from the former England Captain’s shadow.

Since joining Stamford Bridge from Bolton in 2012, Cahill has blossomed working with Terry and has picked up plenty more England caps to boot as he ‘s built up a solid partnership with Everton’s Phil Jagielka.

Along with this, Cahill has similar personality traits to his colleague such as on-pitch leadership and an equally similar playing style. The 28-year-old is often seen putting his body on the line for his team much like Terry (“Superman” dive vs Slovenia esque) in true English lion-heart style, something the Three Lions have missed since Terry’s acrimonious departure from the national fold.

Another positive of Cahill’s, he also does not come with the baggage of John Terry with his personal life stories of affairs and racist allegations.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

Wayne Rooney: Expected to be the bookies and media favourite to replace Gerrard. The England poster boy is undoubtedly the star man.

94 caps and 40 goals would be an impressive return by anyone’s standard but the main criticism of “Wazza” is that he does not turn up on the big stage.

The Manchester United forward, 28, has only scored six goals in major tournaments (four at Euro 2004 where he was just 18, one at Euro 2012 which was a header from two yards against Ukraine, and his leveler against Uruguay) – his first World Cup goal at the third attempt.

Criticism of his attitude would also be a harm to him, frequent contract issues with his club where he seems to be constantly demanding more money does not portray him in a good light.

Many also believe that we have never seen what Rooney is truly capable of, citing that if he had more drive and determination he could have been one of the best players in the world, possibly even ever.

Rooney’s rant into a camera following a 0-0 draw with Algeria at the last World Cup will also live long in the memory of many an England supporter. “Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is”, is not a sentence that endears you to fans well.

Despite all this though, Rooney is still seen as the man to lead England. Why? Because he is England’s best player and, after all, isn’t that what the Captain should be?

Wayne's World: England's next captain?

Wayne’s World: England’s next captain?

Uruguay 2-1 England: Super Suarez all but eliminates England

England’s hopes of qualifying from Group D looked dashed due to to a brace from Luis Suarez either side of Wayne Rooney’s equalizer.

The Manchester United forward, 28, scored his first goal in a World Cup to level the scores with 15 minutes left when he tapped home a Glen Johnson squared pass to give England hope.

Rooney could have dragged England level earlier but shot straight at Fernando Muslera ten minutes into the second half after he knocked the ball past a La Celeste defender.

Suarez killed English dreams though when he tucked the ball past Joe Hart after Muslera’s goal-kick has flicked on by England Captain Steven Gerrard.

Suarez had earlier given Uruguay the lead when he scored a controlled header past Hart but the spine of the England team were largely at fault.

Gerrard and Jordan Henderson were caught out and allowed Nicolas Lodeiro space in midfield and teed up Edinson Cavini who easily lost Glen Johnson and FCavani’s cross was headed in by El Pistolero when Phil Jagielka failed to follow the runner.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

England did show signs of promise in the first period though, Wayne Rooney curled a free-kick narrowly past the post after ten minutes and later hit the bar with a close range header from Gerrard’s free-kick.

Uruguay threatened themselves after quarter of an hour when Jagielka’s sliced clearance landed at the feet of Cristian Rodriguez who shot inches over from the edge of the box.

A low Luis Suarez corner was also blazed over from Cavani.

Daniel Sturridge had the last opportunity though when Rooney’s intelligent through ball found the Liverpool man who had his shot from a tight angle parried by Fernando Muslera at his near post.

Controversy overshadowed the match however as the stand in Uruguay Captain Diego Godin should have been sent off for putting his elbow up to Sturridge’s face in a body check. He had previously been yellow carded for a handball.

The Three Lions now need Italy to defeat both Costa Rica tomorrow and Uruguay next Tuesday while England must also beat Costa Rica themselves, relying on goal difference, to have any chance of making it to round two.