Well, we have our first four in the last 16 – Uruguay beat Mexico 1-0, topping group A, but Mexico joined the South Americans after South Africa finished off the France farce of 2010 with a 2-1 win, not enough to get through. In group B, Argentina had a tough time against Greece but eventually broke the fortified bunker with two unlikely scorers, finishing with a perfect record in the group stage. South Korea drew with Nigeria, 2-2, enough for them to qualify for the first time in a tournament not on home soil.
Raymond Domenech finished his much criticised term with the French national team with a terrible performance against the first host nation that failed to qualify from the group stage, despite their 2-1 win over the weak, weak French side.
South Africa went ahead through Bongani Khumalo in the 20th minute, and were given a huge advantage after Gourcuff was sent off (another weird call) for an aerial challenge six minutes later.
The French side, which was in turmoil all week after the Anelka incident, continued to fall apart as Katlego Mphela sent the fans into raptures with the second.
South Africa needed a huge win to get by Mexico, but missed chance after chance, eventually conceding from Florent Malouda, France’s first and only goal in their World Cup campaign.
Both teams could have settled for draws, but Uruguay didn’t feel like doing the Mexicans any favors, and silenced the El Tri crowd just before half time, as Luis Suarez scored his first goal of the tournament, as Uruguay dominated the Mexicans for most of the match.
Uruguay finished the group stage without conceding a goal, as Mexico joined them from second after South Africa couldn’t get enough goals to improve their GD.
It took Argentina 77 minutes to break down the 9-1 formation Rehhagel prepared, hoping that Nigeria will come to his aid, but the moment Greece understood they need to come out of their shell, they got stung by Demichelis and finally by Palermo, sending this anti-football team home after another hard-to-watch performance.
Argentina qualified from first place, and will meet Mexico in the second round for the second consecutive time. They beat Mexico, in extra time, 2-1 in 2006.
Nigeria, like in the first two matches, had a fantastic start, and went ahead again through Kalu Uche in the 12th minute. He nearly made it 2-0 later on with a smashing shot to the post. After that, it was mostly South Korea, who turned the game with goals from Lee Jung-Soo and Park Chu-Young. Nigeria made it 2-2 with Yakubu converting a penalty, but the Eagles couldn’t create dangerous chances and finished their 2010 World Cup with only one point, while South Korea joined Argentina into the last 16, their second appearance after the group stage, facing Uruguay.
1. Uruguay, 7 points (4-0)
2. Mexico, 4 points (3-2)
3. South Africa, 4 points (3-5)
4. France, 1 point (1-4)
1. Argentina, 9 points (7-1)
2. South Korea, 4 points (5-6)
3. Greece, 3 points (2-5)
4. Nigeria, 1 point (3-5)
1. Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina) – 3 Goals
2. Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Elano & Luis Fabiano (Brazil), Tiago (Portugal), David Villa (Spain), Lee Jung-Soo (South Korea), Kalu Uche (Nigeria) – 2 Goals
3. 56 Players with one goal, 2 own goals
Picture of the Day – Diego Maradona
Fan of the Day – Viva Mexico!
Group C – England vs Slovenia, United States vs Algeria – England are in a must win situation, and will try to avoid making a third failure to qualify from the group stage (1950, 1958 previous). Can they be as bad like against Algeria? Surely not, right? Slovenia just need a draw and make history, but with England looking fragile, who knows? Algeria and the United States will play to win, with the Americans looking favorites, but find it hard to keep a clean sheet. Algeria have yet to score a goal in this world cup.
Group D – Germany vs Ghana, Serbia vs Australia – Anything can happen. Ghana will try to be the only African team making it out alive of the group stages, while Germany should be coming very angry and focused, feeling robbed and unlucky after their loss to Serbia last week. Australia can only ruin it for Serbia, and need a huge day from Schwarzer and the entire team to hold off Krasic and Jovanovic.