Here it is folks, time for teams to start heading for the exits and others to punch their tickets to a spot in the coveted Round of Sixteen. Today’s matches will finalize standings in both Group A and Group B, giving us our first two matches in the next round.
It’s judgement day for France when they take on home favourites South Africa, a must win for both sides: One team is playing to save its national football program from disarray and the other to save face and not become the first host nation to not make it out of their group.
The other match in the group is between the two top sides in Group A, Mexico faces high-flying a Uruguayan side lead by the infallible Diego Forlan.
Group B leaders Argentina face an inspired Greece and in the other match a tattered Nigeria side will take on dark horse South Korea.
Mexico 0 – 1 Uruguay
These two teams sit atop Group A and both would be content to play out to a draw, knowing that they were each guaranteed a spot in the final sixteen if they picked up a single point. However, a second place finish in their group meant a near certain matchup with Argentina in the second round and both sides were hoping to avoid that clash.
Both sides came out swinging and after an exciting first interval, it was Uruguay that opened with scoring through a goal by Luis Suarez in the 43rd minute. For Mexico it was unfortunate to go into the half behind by a goal, but it also gave them a full forty-five minutes to claw back a point.
Although Mexico had all the possession and powered towards the net in the final moments of the match, they just couldn’t find a way through the Uruguayan defence and the game finished in a 1-nil victory for Uruguay.
Man of The Match: Diego Forlan
France 1 – 2 South Africa
It’s tough to not feel bad for the France fans out there, I mean, after their last World Cup fiasco it was hard to imagine ever having a worse turnout in a major tournament. Unfortunately, it appears that not only will this World Cup go down in history for France as their most embarrassing yet, the team mentality appears to be in ruins and there are major rifts between fans and their players at this point. Did I forget to mention French Captain Patrice Evra was dropped for this match? Oh France, you really do know how to make headlines.
This match was dominated from start to finish by Bafana Bafana, and two quick goals by Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela gave the hosts a 2-nil lead going into the second half. Between two goals, France had Yohann Gourcuff harshly sent off and the writing was on the wall for France.
Florent Malouda pulled a goal back in the 70th minute but the celebrations in South Africa were in full effect as they pulled off their first win in the tournament and showed the type of football they’d been missing in their first two matches.
Man of The Match: Katlego Mphela
Greece 0 – 2 Argentina
Even though Greece needed a win to progress, they stuck to their usual defence first tactics and surprise, surprise they failed to beat clear favourites Argentina, who in turn won their third straight match and look poised for a deep run in this tournament.
The match was on the 24th anniversary of the infamous Hand of God and Diego Maradona’s lack of jumping ability was highlighted as he celebrated when Martin Demichelis scored in the 77th minute to give his team the lead. Martin Palermo added a goal and the South Americans took an easy 2-0 decision, which sees them matched up with Mexico in the second round.
Man Of The Match: Lionel Messi
Nigeria 2 – 2 South Korea
Not an exciting matchup but this game provided enough entertainment to keep the fans happy, with the leading changing a number of times and some fantastic goal scoring chances.
Kalu Uche opened the scoring early in the 12th minute to give Nigeria the lead, before Lee Jung-Soo answered back in the 38th minute to take the teams into the half in a 1-1 draw. Starting the second half, Nigeria showed great intent and carried the play, but a goal on the counter attack gave South Korea a lead courtesy of Park Chu-Young in the 49th minute.
Kim Nam-Il gave Nigeria hope when he tripped up Ogbasi Ogbuke in the box and Yakubu convered the spot kick to give the Nigerians a well deserved draw in their final match.
Both teams tried to pull out a win and the match ended at a frantic pace, South Korea progresses to the next round.
Man of The Match: Kalu Uche