Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sportszilla's World Cup Review - June 15, 2006
By Imtiaz Mussa

When we get to the second round of games, the best teams will earn qualification to the next round and weakest will know that they are going home. Mixed in that, Trinidad and Tobago will look to shock the world when they play England.

Group A: Ecuador vs. Costa Rica
Thanks to the result from last night’s Germany-Poland thriller, Ecuador can clinch their spot in the next round with a win. Costa Rica need at least a point to keep their hopes alive. Ecuador name an unchanged side from the one that beat Poland in their opening game. Costa Rica defender Harold Wallace is preferred to Jervis Drummond to deputize for the injured Gilberto Martinez in their only change from the opening game defeat to Germany.

It didn’t take long for the scoring to open. Carlos Tenorio gave Ecuador an eighth-minute lead with a powerful header from Luis Valencia's cross. Ecuador would continue to dominate possession for much of the first half leading Costa Rica to have to make an early substitution. Danny Fonseca's afternoon lasted just 28 minutes as the midfielder is replaced by forward Alvaro Saborio. However, the switch did them no good. Ecuador was still attacking as the Costa Rica went into the locker down 1-0.

Costa Rica should have shown more urgency in the second half but it looked as if Ecuador was the team trailing. They were consistently on the attack and it paid off again in the 54th minute. Kaviedes flicked the ball inside where Agustin Delgado, once of Southampton, chested it down to lash a ferocious shot inside Porras's near post. Ecuador scored a third when Kaviedes finished off a brilliant move by volleying home Edison Mendez's cross. It would 3-0 as Ecuador have surprised the world by making the last 16.

Man of the Match: Agustin Delgado (Ecuador)
Playing a part in the opening goal and scoring the second makes Delgado the Man of the Match. He has something to prove after being a flop at Southampton and has been in form since the start. He has been the key to Ecuador’s success.

General Thoughts: Ecuador
No one gave Ecuador a chance because they were unable to win away from home during qualification. But they were able to do it by playing strong defense and creating quality chances. The team’s fitness is really impressive. Playing in that high altitude must have done something.

General Thoughts: Costa Rica
The Costa Ricans took a step backward from their loss against Germany. They allowed four goals but were able to score two against the hosts. Today, they were unable to find Paolo Wanchope was a force against Germany but was nowhere to be found. And with that, Costa Rica will be heading home. But first, they have the opportunity to get some points when they play the disappointing Polish team.

Ecuador: Mora, De la Cruz, Reasco, Espinoza (Guagua 68), Hurtado, Castillo, Valencia (Urrutia 73), Edwin Tenorio, Mendez, Carlos Tenorio (Kaviedes 45), Delgado.
Subs Not Used: Villafuerte, Perlaza, Lara, Borja, Ambrossi, Ayovi, Saritama, Lanza, Benitez.

Booked: Castillo, De la Cruz, Mora

Goals: Carlos Tenorio 8, Delgado 54, Kaviedes 90

Costa Rica: Porras, Gonzalez (Hernandez 56), Umana, Wallace, Marin, Fonseca (Saborio 28), Centeno (Bernard 84), Solis, Sequeira, Wanchope, Gomez
Subs Not Used: Drummond, Bolanos, Azofeifa, Badilla, Nunez, Rodriguez, Alfaro, Mesen

Booked: Marin, Solis

Att: 50,000

Referee: Coffi Codjia (Benin)

Group A Update
Germany and Ecuador have qualified for the next round with six points each. They will play each other in the last group game. Germany need a win to take the group otherwise any other result means Ecuador top Group A. Ecuador have a better goal differential than the hosts.

Group B: England vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Wayne Rooney was given clearance to play and was on the bench for the start of this game. Gary Neville would not play due to an injury and was replaced by Jamie Carragher. A victory sees England through to the next round. Trinidad and Tobago made two changes, Aurtis Whitley and Kenwyne Jones being started with Avery John suspended and Collin Samuel dropped.

In the opening stages, England played with an ease that suggested they were playing in a training game rather than a crucial World Cup contest. After Michael Owen miscued in front of goal, Crouch went close twice, first denied an attempt at a volley five yards out by Brent Sancho's timely intervention and then foiled by Hislop's claw away after Joe Cole's left-wing cross. But as so often with Eriksson's England, early promise soon turned into increasing frustration as passes were misplaced with alarming regularity. They were nearly made to pay for their labored approach, as Paul Robinson uncharacteristically flapped at a corner only for Stern John to head wide at the far post. As the clock ticked towards half-time the England fans began to chant for Rooney's introduction with real passion, not helped by a mishap from Crouch. Spotted by Beckham standing in the penalty area eight yards out, with no-one anywhere near him, Crouch hopelessly caught the volley on his right shin and sent it several yards wide of Hislop's goal. His miss could have proved even more costly. Carlos Edwards beat Robinson to a cross and as John bundled the ball towards goal, John Terry managed to get back in time to clear the ball off the line.

It was equally bad for the first 13 minutes of the second half, before the fans finally got their wish and Rooney was introduced, along with Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon. The double change stimulated the side, but England continued to be sloppy in front of goal. Eriksson's stock 4-4-2 became 3-5-2 and Beckham and Lennon began to fit together down the right, the captain crossing for the wasteful Crouch to head over, again unmarked. However, Crouch put it behind him in the 83rd minute as he popped up with the most important goal of his life. England's giant hitman powerfully headed Beckham's cross into the roof of the net past Hislop. Having come so close Trinidad visibly wilted, and Gerrard took advantage with a brilliant left-foot screamer that flew in from the edge of the area.

Man of the Match: Aaron Lennon/Wayne Rooney (England)
The duo saved England from utter embarrassment today. Lennon’s pace caused fits for the Trinidad defense and he laid the ball back to Beckham for the cross that led to the first goal. Rooney was a force. He uplifted the fans and his teammates when he came in. The 20 year old might not have scored but he caused plenty of problems.

General Thoughts: England
It's by far the worst England performance for some time and is almost on a par with Northern Ireland in Belfast. They have scored two goals, but the second makes it very, very flattering. This team changed when Lennon and Rooney entered the match. Sven should consider making some changes. But, a win is a win and England are through.

General Thoughts: Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad should be proud of themselves. They did a superb job against the English and were very close to getting another point. The fun part about all of this is that they still have a chance to qualify for the next round. If that happens, Trinidad will really be partying.

England: Robinson, Carragher (Lennon 58), Terry, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Joe Cole (Downing 74), Owen (Rooney 58), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Campbell, James, Bridge, Hargreaves, Jenas, Carrick, Carson, Walcott, Neville

Booked: Lampard

Goals: Crouch 83, Gerrard 90

Trinidad and Tobago: Hislop, Edwards, Sancho, Lawrence, Gray, Birchall, Whitley, Yorke, Theobald (Wise 85), Stern John, Jones (Glen 70)
Subs Not Used: Cox, Latapy, Samuel, Charles, Scotland, Ince, Wolfe, Andrews, Jack

Booked: Theobald, Whitley, Jones, Hislop, Gray

Att: 41,000

Ref: Toru Kamikawa (Japan)

Group B: Sweden vs. Paraguay
First-choice goalkeeper Andreas Ikasson returned to the Sweden line-up after a bout of concussion while Kim Kallstrom was preferred to Anders Svensson in the middle of midfield. Sweden needs a win following their disappointing draw against Trinidad. Aldo Bobadilla kept his place in the Paraguay goal after Justo Villar was ruled out for the rest of the tournament. Roque Santa Cruz again led the line up front and Jorge Nunez comes in for Delio Toledo in midfield.

The Scandinavians started in determined fashion, but were frequently met by some rugged Paraguayan defending, an approach which led to Denis Caniza receiving the game's first yellow card within three minutes for tripping Henrik Larsson. In the ninth minute, Ibrahimovic touched a header back to Kim Kallstrom, whose excellent shot from outside the box was matched only by the save from Aldo Bobadilla. Three minutes later, it was Larsson's turn to cushion a header back for an onrushing midfielder; Christian Wilhelmsson driving a fierce shot was just wide of Bobadilla's upright. It was an impressive start from the Swedes, but Paraguay weathered the storm and then began to come into the opposing half a little, as Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Valdez and Jorge Nunez served notice that Sweden's defenders would need to be watchful all evening. Larsson and Ibrahimovic, after their threatening first quarter of an hour, began to be seen less and less. Bobadilla rarely had a save to make, and on the one occasion Ibrahimovic did get through his shot was weak and straight at the goalkeeper.

In contrast to the first half, it was Paraguay who made the better start in the second period, Valdez getting down the left and checking back before shooting into the side-netting. And when the ball did get down to the other end, Bobadilla proved a worthy deputy in goal for the injured Justo Villar, beating out a 54th-minute free-kick from Larsson. Four minutes later Bobadilla needed the intervention of defender Caniza, who hacked off the line after substitute Allback had been put through and lobbed the goalkeeper. Still the out-of-sorts Swedes desperately tried to find that elusive goal, Larsson heading over after good work on the right from the lively Allback. Then with 10 minutes left, Allback seemed certain to score as he turned and shot from close-range, but the effort was tame enough for Bobadilla to hold. Finally Ljungberg made the breakthrough as he popped up at the far post to head home after Marcus Allback had nodded a cross back across goal.

Man of the Match: Freddie Ljungberg (Sweden)
The Arsenal man worked so hard to get Sweden that vital goal and he was the one who scored it. With Ibrahimovic and Larsson out of form, Ljungberg will need to pick up the slack along with Allback.

General Thoughts: Sweden
They needed a goal and they finally got one. The fortunate thing for them is that they are not playing good football but no team in the group is. Ibrahimovic and Larsson need to start putting away some of those great chances. They are in good shape to move on to the next round.

General Thoughts: Paraguay
Their defensive effort was not deserving of two losses. However, Paraguay was never able to score a goal either. With a match against Trinidad coming up next, they should go for the win and least leave Germany with 3 points.

Sweden: Isaksson, Lucic, Mellberg, Linderoth, Edman, Ljungberg, Alexandersson, Kallstrom (Elmander 86), Wilhelmsson (Jonson 68), Ibrahimovic (Allback 45), Larsson.
Subs Not Used: Alvbage, Andersson, Hansson, Nilsson, Rosenberg, Shaaban, Stenman, Anders Svensson, Karl Svensson

Booked: Linderoth, Lucic, Allback

Goals: Ljungberg 89

Paraguay: Bobadilla, Gamarra, Nunez, Caceres, Caniza, Bonet (Barreto 81), Acuna, Paredes, Riveros (Dos Santos 62), Santa Cruz (Lopez 63), Valdez.
Subs Not Used: Cabanas, Cuevas, Da Silva, Gavilan, Gomez, Manzur, Montiel, Toledo, Villar

Booked: Caniza, Acuna, Paredes, Barreto

Att: 72,000

Ref: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)

Group B Update
England are the first to clinch a berth to the next round. As long as they don’t lose against Sweden, they will win the group. Sweden needs a point to advance or hope Trinidad does not win. Trinidad needs to win, hope England beats Sweden, and have a better goal differential than the Swedes. Paraguay is eliminated after getting no points in two matches.

Tomorrow’s Fixtures
Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro – 9:00am EST – ESPN2
Holland vs. Ivory Coast – Noon EST – ESPN2
Mexico vs. Angola – 3:00pm EST - ESPN


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