World Cup: Quarterfinals Day 1

Only eight teams are left in the World Cup and today we have our last remaining African nation in play, with Ghana facing a resurgent Uruguay, while the late match offers us a classic matchup between the five time world Champions Brazil and the nation that brought us total football the Netherlands.

My predos came out before the matches and you can go find them here for the whole Quarterfinals, but as a quick reminder here’s today’s predictions:

Uruguay 2 – 1 Ghana

Brazil 3 – 2 Netherlands

With those predictions sure to be utterly wrong, here’s today’s recap and roundup of the matches:

Uruguay 1 [4] – 1 [2] Ghana

Forty years have passed since Uruguay have made it into the last four of the World Cup and on the other side of the bill, Ghana is hoping to remain Africa’s last hope to crown a champion at this year’s tournament.

The game started tentatively, with both teams cautiously attacking and probing for space, trying to find the go ahead goal. With so much pressure on the teams to get a result, the first thirty minutes offered few clear cut chances but Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Kingson was called upon for a  couple of keys saves from Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez.

It was once again Asamoah Gyan who led the African attack and had a number of clear chances as the first half came to a close, however, it was Sulley Muntari who would open the scoring with a forty yard strike in first half injury time. The forward was allowed too much space and seemed to move in slow motion as he turned and struck a long-range speculative effort, only to be rewarded with a goal that curled just outside of the reach of keeper Fernando Muslera.

Although it was Ghana with the edge going into halftime, it was the South Americans that came out hard and full of life in the second half. They started brightly and were rewarded just ten minutes after the break when Diego Forlan curled in a wide free kick that deceived Kingson with its movement and tied the match at one goal apiece.

The game once again fell back to the two teams playing for extra time, but Ghana looked brightest forcing the opposition keeper into a number of important saves. The game finished 1-1 after ninety minutes and the two teams were forced into extra-time.

As the game looked to head into penalty kicks after a pair of scoreless halves of extra-time, it was controversy that took over the game.

In the dying seconds of the game Dominic Adiyiah has a shot cleared off the line by Suarez, and then second later it is Suarez again saving the day stopping a header from Adiyiah, however, this time he uses his hand and punches the ball clear.

A certain goal is stopped; Luis Suarez sees red and Asamoah Gyan steps up to take the penalty, where a goal will put his side just one match away from the World Cup finals.

He steps up. And. MISSES. With the ball skimming the woodworks and going over the net, absolutely heartbreaker and the match heads to penalty kicks.

Forlan scores first, then Gyan steps up moments after missing his chance to win the game and scores top corner. Brave move and it pays off.

Then Victorino scores, but Appiah answers back for Ghana and its tied two a piece after two shots. Scotti then scores for Uruguay and Mensah tries to score without a run up but Fernando Muslera guesses right and makes a save. 3 – 2 for Uruguay after three shots.

Maxi Periera up next and can put his country in the driving seat, but gaffes the shot and puts it high and wide, while all of Africa goes wild. Adiyiah steps up to score but is saved by Muslera.

With a goal putting them through, Abreu steps up, the weight of all of Uruguay on his shoulders, and dinks the ball right down the middle and puts his country through to the final four.

Man Of The Match: Fernando Muslera

Netherlands 2 – 1 Brazil

Netherlands 2 – 1 Brazil

Whenever these two teams meet up, dreams are crushed and memories are imprinted upon supporter’s minds forever.

Five time world champions Brazil had been pegged as favourites to win the tournament, whilst many were waiting for the inevitable collapse that has plagued Dutch teams in the final stages of international tournaments for decades.

Le Oranje came out impressively and had a number of clear chances in the first few minutes, but the Brazilians hit back quickly on the counter-attack. In the 8th minute the South Americans sent Dani Alves in and he slipped a ball across for Robinho who tapped home but a late flag from the linesman put Alves offside and the Brazilians were unlucky to not be ahead.

Robinho didn’t have to wait long for his goal, as just two minutes later Felipe Melo sent him in alone and the on-loan Man City striker slotted a strike past Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg to give his team a 1-nil lead early in the game.

With a lead in hand, Brazil is eager to sit back and hassle their opponents, fouling Arjen Robben at will and slowing the pace of the game down. Brazil pushes back and has a couple of chances with Juan blazing over from a few yards out and a brilliant curled shot by Kaka is turned away by Stekelenburg.

Michel Bastos, who had already fouled Robben a number of times, is shown a yellow card in the37th minute and has to make sure he doesn’t fall into Robben’s crafty movements, and although Brazil held a lead going into halftime their players looked increasingly frustrated at the fouls being called by the referees.

Going into the second half, it was up to the Dutch to come out and take control of the match as the new look Brazil who plays defence first were more than happy to sit back and play the game out to a 1-nil win.

Moments after receiving a yellow card, Felipe Melo turns villain as he goes up to head away a Wesley Sneijder cross and heads it into his own net. Own goal for Melo and it’s a 1-1 game in the 53rd minute.

The goal woke up both sides and suddenly a match was being played, Kaka has a chance go narrowly wide and Dani Alves has another shots saved. With Brazil looking frustrated and Netherlands growing in confidence, Arjen Robben drills in a corner kick that takes a deflection off of Dirk Kuyt and onto the head of Sneijder who heads home goal and puts his team into the driver’s seat with only 20 minutes remaining.

Just five minutes after the goal, Brazil finally implodes as own-goal scorer Felipe Melo see’s red for a vicious stamp on the leg of Arjen Robben. What a terrible day for the Brazilian, who set up the first goal, hit in an own goal and received a yellow and a straight red card.

Down a man Dunga’s side just seemed unable to compete and the Dutch seemed to smell blood, attacking over and over again, and throwing caution to the wind looking for more goals. Kuyt was unlucky not to add a third, but in all fairness, the final moments saw Netherlands walk out easy winners and into the next round.

Man Of The Match: Wesley Sneijder


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