Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ecuador delirium!

Ecuador 3-0 Costa Rica

A comfortable victory as Ecuador continues to impress.

Ecuador were very convincing. They moved the ball out nicely to the flanks, played with a lot of fluidity and caused many problems for Costa Rica. Valencia looked good moving forward and Tenorio, Delgado and Kaviedas took their goals very well. Hurtado and Espinoza were exceptional at the back. Ecuador are fast being the surprise team of the tournament and whilst Poland and Costa Rica are not of the ilk of a Holland or an Argentina these are pleasing signs for the team. An aggregate of 5-0 to the good compares very favourably with Germany’s goal difference of 5-2 after facing the same teams, and a draw against the hosts will allow them to qualify in 1st place. There will be a huge party in Ecuador as it is an historic day as Ecuador qualify for the last 16 for the first time in their history!

Costa Rica: A disappointing effort from Los Ticos who looked quite a bit weaker than when they played Germany (although perhaps this is more down to how well their opposition played against them?). The main threat of Wanchope never really materialised and few opportunities presented themselves. Saborio’s curled shot which struck the bar could have changed the match situation, but over all Costa Rica go home unhappy. Porras did well in goal.

England 2-0 T&T

A frustrating game in some ways, but the result was a fair reflection in the end.

England attacked a lot, created plenty of chances, but were never totally in control, and could quite easily have suffered embarrassment at the hands of their lowly opposition. Lampard and Crouch were particularly wasteful with Lampard converting 0/8 shots and Crouch 1/7. Lampard’s efforts were either weak or skyward, Crouch had one big blooper attempting a volley in acres of space that troubled the corner flag more than the goal. Owen looked off the pace again, and it was up to the introduction of Rooney and Lennon to rouse the team from their slumber. It was important for Rooney to get half an hour under his belt to build up match fitness, and he certainly looked hungry. Lennon, as I suspected he would, looked terrific with electrifying pace and combining well in tandem with Beckham down the right. In the last few minutes Crouch put his poor efforts behind him to power in a header from Beckham’s cross, and Gerrard let fly with a 30 yard screamer, handing England passage to the round of 16. A brilliant performance from Terry in defence including one amazing clearing kick, and a highly impressive 90 minutes from Gerrard in the middle of the park.

T&T played an obviously defensive game, hoping to hold on for a 0-0 draw or perhaps sneak the win. Yorke marshalled his troups well as they continually kept almost everyone behind the ball, and hunted the ball down in packs. T&T had a couple of against the run of play efforts which could easily have handed them a shock lead, but in the end they were worn down.

Sweden 1-0 Paraguay.

A close and at times drab affair that was settled in the dying stages.

Sweden had an excellent opening 15 minutes but their charge died away for much of the rest of the game, until finally coming to life again towards the end of the match. Kallstom, Ibrahimovic, ljunberg, Larsson and Wilhelmsson were inconsistently dangerous, but overall Sweden found Paraguay difficult to break down. Sweden also had to weather the Paraguay storm as they looked to secure themselves the win. Allback came oh so close to winning it at the end with a fine chip that had too little acceleration on it, Ljunberg though got the winner with a fine header. Sweden then have an excellent chance of making it through to the second round.

Paraguay looked good at times through the likes of Valdez, Santa Cruz and Nunez. Paraguay served notice that they wanted the win with some committed and rugged defending, Bobadilla also made a couple of key saves in goal. In the end though, and probably deservedly so, with no points on the board, they have been eliminated from WC 06!

No comments: