Football super powers dominate the World Cup
CAIRO: Italy was fortunate to walk away with a last-minute victory against an impressive Australian team. From the start, the Italians resorted to a defensive mode of play, with few counter-attacks that resulted in hardly any problems for the Australian side; the Australians had the better percentage of possessions throughout the match.
The game leaned even more toward Australia’s favor as Italian defender Marco Materazzi was sent off early into the second half after committing a harsh foul against Marc Bresciano. The trio of John Aloisi, Mark Viduka and Tim Cahill were a constant cause for concern for Italy, although all of their attempts were denied by Italy s great goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon. Into injury time, Italy s defender Fabio Grosso penetrated the Australian defense before being tackled by Lucas Neill to be awarded a rather questionable penalty. Substitute Francesco Totti showed no hesitation, scoring with ease and sending Australia home after a memorable effort.
In what was a close game, Ukraine won out over an aggressive Swiss side as a result of a penalty shoot-out. Neither teams succeeded in scoring throughout 120 minutes of action. In the penalty shoot-out, Ukraine s star Andriy Shevchenko missed his first penalty and Marco Streller was also denied. Ukraine scored the next three penalties, while the Swiss failed to convert any of the penalties. The team that had yet to concede a goal during the first round failed to score against the Ukraine and conceded three goals during the penalty shoot-out.
Brazil managed another victory as they surpassed Africa s remaining representative Ghana 3-0 to book a place in the last eight. Ghana played free-flowing football but was ousted by the brilliance of Ronaldo, Adriano and Kaka, all of whom wreaked havoc on Ghana’s defense. Ronaldo, after just five minutes, made the difference between the two teams as he received a terrific pass from Kaka to find himself facing Ghana’s goalkeeper alone, who fell for a brilliant step-over move by Ronaldo which resulted in a goal and granting the Brazilian the honor of being the leading goal scorer in the history of the World Cup. Despite the absence of Ghana s key midfield player, Mark Essian, for suspension, Ghana pushed forward and managed to create many chances through Matthew Amoah and Haminu Draman, all of which were denied by Brazilian goalkeeper Dida. Adriano extended Brazil s lead into injury time before the interval. In the second half Ghana pushed hard to score, but Brazil kept calm and Ze Roberto placed the final touches on the match by adding a third goal right before the end.
It was the Spaniard s overconfidence that led to their defeat against France in an action-packed game played in Hanover. Despite the early lead through a penalty, Spain fell back to defense, allowing an opportunity for the French midfield to dominate.
The presence of Zinedine Zidane, having just returned from suspension, alongside Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele and Frank Ribery made all of the difference for the French. Frank Ribery equalized for France four minutes before half time. Moreover, Patrick Vieira s header put the French up seven minutes from full time before a masterful move by Zinedine Zidane provided France with the third goal two minutes into injury-time.
Football fans will are anxiously awaiting this weekend’s matches, when Germany faces Argentina, Italy takes on Ukraine, England plays against Portugal and finally Brazil faces France in a repeat of the exciting 1998 World Cup final.