Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Group H final set of games

Spain 2-1 Chile

Spain went into the match knowing only a win would guarantee qualification. Chile knew they only needed to draw.

The opening exchanges were lively. Torres had a couple of early chances and a lovely move by Chile resulted in Beausejour setting up Gonzalez which he sent wide. Chile started to dominate proceedings and Sanchez attempted an exquisite cheeky lob that Casillas managed to flap away. Then, disaster struck for Chile. Goalkeeper Bravo rushed out of his area to clear Alonso's through ball and take it away from Torres. He won the ball (as he needed to) and cleared it away - but instead of to the sideline it went further up the pitch...and straight to Villa who sensationally kept the ball on target from 30 yards out with a first-time shot. 1-0 Spain.

A second goal for Spain wasn't long in coming. As Chile pressed for an equaliser gaps were appearing - Iniesta won the ball in Chile's half and a few crisp and incisive passes later he was clinically despatching a quality strike. In the process Estrada was given a second yellow card for a trip on Torres and was therefore sent off. Estrada deserved his first yellow but the second yellow was harsh. He barely caught Torres and it appeared accidental. However moments earlier he had not been booked for a cynical foul when he perhaps should have, so overall maybe the decision was inadvertently correct.

In the second half Chile showed what a courageous side they are. With ten men they scored a goal right at the start of the half and didn't concede again. Medel and Ponce were both tigers in defence but both picked up yellow cards and are suspended for the Brazil game - both would surely be missed. Chile's goal was a touch fortuitous: second half substitute Millar had his shot deflected off Pique's knee and it was diverted into the net.

Both teams played an almost farcical last ten minutes of possession football - not interested in tackling or setting up goals. Both knew they had done enough to qualify should the game being played simultaneously (Switzerland v Honduras) remain at 0-0.

Switzerland 0-0 Honduras

Honduras knew only a win could give them even a small chance of qualifying. Switzerland knew a draw or a win may or may not be enough - depending on the result in the Spain v Chile game.

Despite the scoreline this was actually a fairly entertaining game. Honduras showed far more attacking intent than they could muster in their first two games and came very close to scoring on a number of occasions. Unfortunately for them, they didn't, and they would be eliminated without a goal to their name.

Both sides created a number of chances but neither team could trouble the goalscorers. Frei was disappointing for the Swiss as he barely mustered a shot and Nkufo had a couple of glaring misses. The Swiss showed their desire for goals by bringing Hakin Yakin on at half-time but he was unable to conjure up the victory they so desperately sought. Honduras were also guilty of glaring misses but were also denied by some quality keeping from Benaglio.

On the balance of play Honduras would have warranted 3 points, but it was not to be. And both sides were sent packing.

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