Saturday, June 26, 2010

Group B final set of games

South Korea 2-2 Nigeria

Nigeria came into the game knowing that they could qualify with a win, providing that Argentina beat Greece. South Korea knew they probably only needed a draw (assuming Greece didn't beat Argentina).

As a result Nigeria came out with positive intent, and it was they who opened the scoring after only 12 minutes. Odiah took it past two South Koreans down the flank before sending a low cross in, Uche ghosted in front of the defender and finished with aplomb. It was a combination of South Korea showing weakness in defence and Uche showing a cutting edge to score.

The impressive Uche could have made it 2-0 soon after. A venomous long-range shot smacked into the post as Nigeria came tantalisingly close to putting one foot in the second round. Instead South Korea were to get the equaliser not long before half-time. Awarded a free kick on the left flank Ki Sung-Yong swung in the free kick and Lee Jung-soo bundled home, unmarked thanks to an error from Afolabi. It was an odd goal as it came off Lee Jung-soo's head and then knee on the way into the net.

South Korea took the lead early in the second half. Shittu committed the foul and Park Chu-Young converted the long distance free-kick. Enyeama was wrong footed by the shot and perhaps should have been positioned better. It wasn't the best free-kick but it crept in at the far post.

Errors were costing Nigeria dearly. Now behind they had to throw caution to the wind. As the game wore on we witnessed one of the misses of all time. Ayila squared the ball to an unmarked Yakubu who had an open goal in front of him. He inexplicably put the ball wide. A couple of minutes later he was able to atone for the error, converting a penalty after Kim Nam-Il had brought Obasi down in the box. It was a frantic ending to the match as Martins and Obinna had a couple of good chances each but were unable to profit. Inches away from the second round...

Nigeria would rue their defensive errors. South Korea had played some nice football and had more chances than my review has indicated. Park Chu-Young was the most impressive South Korean in my opinion. For Nigeria both Uche and Obasi had looked quality. Nigeria were eliminated and overall they would rue defensive lapses, wasted opportunities and ill-discipline in the Greece match. South Korea qualified for a second-round date with Uruguay.

Argentina 2-0 Greece

Greece went into this game knowing a win might not be enough to qualify, but a draw might. In other words the Group had a number of permutations and they knew they had to win to give themselves the best chance possible. Argentina had already qualified and only needed a draw to ensure top spot. As a result they rested a few players.

Despite this Greece did not go into the game attempting to attack Argentina from the offset. Instead they were happy to defend, soak up the pressure and hit Argentina with a fast counter-attack. Argentina looked very exciting moving forward and it was thanks to some impressive saves from Tsorvas (as well as some good defending in general) that it took Argentina until the 79th minute to open the scoring. Demichelis stabbed home from a corner kick after his intial shot was blocked by fellow team-mate Milito. The second goal came when Messi beat a couple of players and thundered a spectacular shot which hit the post - veteran striker Palermo was alert to slot home the rebound. Messi had shown a number of flashes of brilliance throughout the game as he continued his run of playing very well but not scoring.

Greece had had a few chances throughout the match, these mainly falling to Samaras. He was unable to convert any of them however. One of them in particular he really should have scored.

But it was Maradona's Argentina to finish first in the group (they will take on Mexico in the second round) and Greece to take an early flight home.

No comments: