Boye 31' (OG)
RED: Defour 44'
Group G Finale
The cynically-expected scoreless draw almost materialized, but it wasn't because nobody was trying. Germany was furious in the attack throughout, and the USA put together some decent efforts as well, in addition to having some decent chances stymied by weirdness. At one point, Jermaine Jones had a perfect chance at a one-time and collided... with the ref. Another instance saw Fabian Johnson fouled in a situation where the USA would have had clear advantage had play continued; the ref instead blew his whistle, handed Benedikt Höwedes a yellow, and ordered a free kick from the spot. But the teams remained knotted at nil going into the half. Ten minutes after halftime, though, it went south. Tim Howard made an absolutely fantastic save of a Per Merteseacker header, but that save required him to simply slap the ball away. Unfortunately, it bounced away at almost a 90-degree angle, right to Thomas Müller; nobody would have been able to reverse direction and save Müller's rebound, but damned if Howard almost didn't. Unfortunately for the Americans, Ghana scored two minutes later, putting everything at risk. If Ghana were to score again without the Americans equalizing, it would spell doom. The United States had plenty of great chances in the final half-hour, while Germany seemed mostly content to hold the lead; neither scored again, however, leaving the American fate in the hands of the match in Brasilia...
Portugal and Ghana went at each other hard for the first thirty minutes, and Cristian Ronaldo very nearly scored three times: once off the crossbar, and twice halted by brilliant saves by Fatau Dauda. But at the half-hour mark Ronaldo fired a cross into the box which John Boye accidentally redirected into his own goal. America erupted in cheers. Portugal maintained the attack, and just before the halftime whistle Boye almost did it again, just barely clearing the crossbar on a clearance. Portugal had complete control of the game for nearly the first hour. But almost at the same time Germany scored their lone goal, Asamoah Gyan sent the American fanbase into a panic when he headed in a perfect cross from Kwadwo Asamoah to equalize. Just four minutes later, Ghana almost put themselves into the round of 16 when Majeed Waris's header just missed, and continued pressing hard for the next twenty minutes... when Ronaldo, who had potentially destroyed America on the weekend, saved them instead. Nani blasted a cross in from the sideline which Jonathan Mensah headed poorly up and back toward his own goal. Dauda slapped the ball away in desperation, and Ronaldo collected the rebound and bashed it home to give Portugal the lead. Ronaldo nearly scored twice more in the final ten minutes, and Ghana could not recover; both teams go home, while Germany wins the group and the United States advances to the final 16.
|GROUP G FINAL STANDINGS|
Group H Finale
Early in the game, South Korea tried to get a pair of penalty calls, but were frankly lucky not to get yellows for simulation. They really only had one other bonafide chance in the first half, but Belgium didn't do much better. Just before the half, Steven Defour got sent off for a dangerous challenge, and suddenly Belgium's cruise-control afternoon turned into a test. South Korea simply couldn't capitalize, though, and with just more than ten minutes remaining committed the unpardonable sin: they allowed ten-man Belgium to take the lead. Divock Origi fired a shot which Kim Seung-gyu dove at but failed to collect; he slapped it away and Jan Vertonghen blasted the rebound into the open net. It was redemption of a sort for Vertonghen, who'd committed the penalty which put Belgium behind Algeria early in the group's opening game. Belgium parked the bus, but in the final minutes Eden Hazard came in off the bench, and very nearly added a second goal for the Red Devils. But Korea never really threatened for the duration, and Belgium came away with first place in the group.
Russia struck early when Aleksandr Kokorin headed in a cross from Dmitry Kombarov. A few minutes later, they almost doubled while Sofiane Feghouli was busy getting a pretty serious cut to the scalp bandaged up, but weren't able to convert. For almost an hour, Russia held on to their hopes of advancing, but right at the hour mark Islam Brahimi fired a free kick from the left corner into the box, and Islam Slimani headed it home for the equalizer. The Russians had some chances in the final thirty, but couldn't manage to retake the lead, and once they heard that Belgium had scored -- thus wrecking their chances of sneaking off with the group win -- Algeria mostly went into defensive mode. The Foxes earned the draw, and move on to the final 16 for the first time in history.
|GROUP H FINAL STANDINGS|
PSYCHE! There is no Friday schedule. Action picks up again on Saturday with the Round of 16, in which we get two games per day through Tuesday, followed by two off days before the quarterfinals. Join us tomorrow night for the first Round of 16 preview and open thread; meanwhile, stick with us tonight and tomorrow to discuss the bracket and matchups!