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Monday, April 6, 2009

Surprises all over the world

Posted by Volkan at 14:59 0 comments Links to this post
Zambia's Francis Kasonde celebrates after scoring

Shockwaves were sent around planet football this week as some of the powerhouses of the world game fell to unexpected defeat. Take Argentina and Mexico, for example, who are currently licking their wounds after Wednesday's setbacks. FIFA.com picks out the eyecatching scorelines from the week's qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Honduras shake up the established order
Carlos Pavon managed not only to shake up the established hierarchy in the North and Central America and Caribbean Zone, but at the same time blunt the hopes of the country where he plies his trade. The attacker's five-star performance gave Honduras a 3-1 win over Mexico, who now find themselves with only three points from as many games and something of a mountain to climb if they are to make it to South Africa.

Four days earlier, 35-year-old Pavon, who plays for Club Necaxa in Mexico, had earned Honduras a point in their 1-1 draw with Trinidad and Tobago, making him very much the man of the moment in the CONCACAF Zone. The Hondurans now sit third in the group with four points from three games, and the country's entire 7.5 million population are now dreaming of their first FIFA World Cup since Spain 1982.

Saudi Arabia back in the running
The biggest shockwaves from the AFC were provided by Saudi Arabia last Saturday. Finding themselves 1-0 down with 11 minutes to go away to Iran in Tehran, the Saudis, who are currently ranked 55th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, turned things around thanks to goals from Naif Hazazi and Osama Al Harbi.

The win by Jose Peseiro's men not only cost Iranian coach Ali Daei his job but also keeps alive Saudi Arabia's hopes of qualifying for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup since USA 1994. The Sons of the Desert currently lie third in Asia Group 2, level on points with second-placed Korea DPR who they face at home in Riyadh in their final match.

Northern Ireland and Bosnia upset the odds
In Europe, the two surprise packages are most definitely Northern Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina. Nigel Worthington's team are sitting pretty on top of Group 3 after a 3-2 win away to Poland and a 1-0 success at home to Slovenia. Bosnia, meanwhile, got the upper hand in both their home and away clashes with Belgium and now stand second behind Spain in Group 5, four points clear of Turkey. These two underdogs are currently bang on form and harbour legitimate hopes of making it to South Africa.

As well as Northern Ireland, Slovakia are also ahead of big guns Poland and Czech Republic in Group 3, while Denmark and Hungary are making all the running ahead of Portugal in Group 1. Those two sides, coached by Morten Olsen and Erwin Koeman respectively, are seven points clear of FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates, and although the Hungarians have played one game more, nerves must be jangling in the Portuguese camp.

Big three off to a shaky start in Africa
Francis Kasonde, Emmanuel Adebayor, Pierre Aubameyang and Roguy Meye have good reason to celebrate at the moment after scoring the goals which earned Zambia, Togo and Gabon surprising results as the final African qualifying round got underway. The Zambians managed a draw against current African champions Egypt, while Togo defeated Cameroon and Gabon overcame Morocco.

The north African teams were particularly disappointed with their false starts, but as Egypt striker Mido pointed out, "this early defeat by no means spells the end of the road for us". Gabon coach Alain Giresse, in contrast, was delighted with his team's victory over a side coached by fellow Frenchman Roger Lemerre, saying "to face an opponent as tough as Morocco and come away with the three points is incredible."

Honeymoon period over for Maradona
All of the above surprises pale in comparison to Bolivia's achievement. No-one could have dreamed that Erwin Sanchez's team would hand out a 6-1 thrashing to two-time FIFA World Cup-winners Argentina, who had previously been riding high on the back of Diego Maradona's appointment as coach. Lionel Messi had been filling the latter's legendary number 10 shirt to good effect in recent matches but it was the unheralded Joaquin Botero who proved to be the Albiceleste's downfall. The 31-year-old striker notched a hat-trick to take his tally in the qualifiers to eight goals, putting him top of the South American scoring charts.

The 1978 and 1986 FIFA World Cup winners now find themselves in a lowly fourth place, and with trips to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay still to come, they are by no means certainties to qualify. One crumb of comfort for the Argentinians is that Paraguay also slipped up this week, losing 2-0 to Uruguay and only managing a 1-1 draw with Ecuador.

Have your say
Misery loves company, and it's always good to share your joy, so write in and let us know how you feel about the shocks of the past few days! Just click on 'add your comment' below and have your say.

Surprises all over the world

Posted by Volkan at 05:06 0 comments Links to this post

Argentina's national footballers Luis Gonzales (L) and Maximiliano Rodriguez show their disappointment

Shockwaves were sent around planet football this week as some of the powerhouses of the world game fell to unexpected defeat. Take Argentina and Mexico, for example, who are currently licking their wounds after Wednesday's setbacks. FIFA.com picks out the eyecatching scorelines from the week's qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Honduras shake up the established order
Carlos Pavon managed not only to shake up the established hierarchy in the North and Central America and Caribbean Zone, but at the same time blunt the hopes of the country where he plies his trade. The attacker's five-star performance gave Honduras a 3-1 win over Mexico, who now find themselves with only three points from as many games and something of a mountain to climb if they are to make it to South Africa.

Four days earlier, 35-year-old Pavon, who plays for Club Necaxa in Mexico, had earned Honduras a point in their 1-1 draw with Trinidad and Tobago, making him very much the man of the moment in the CONCACAF Zone. The Hondurans now sit third in the group with four points from three games, and the country's entire 7.5 million population are now dreaming of their first FIFA World Cup since Spain 1982.

Saudi Arabia back in the running
The biggest shockwaves from the AFC were provided by Saudi Arabia last Saturday. Finding themselves 1-0 down with 11 minutes to go away to Iran in Tehran, the Saudis, who are currently ranked 55th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, turned things around thanks to goals from Naif Hazazi and Osama Al Harbi.

The win by Jose Peseiro's men not only cost Iranian coach Ali Daei his job but also keeps alive Saudi Arabia's hopes of qualifying for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup since USA 1994. The Sons of the Desert currently lie third in Asia Group 2, level on points with second-placed Korea DPR who they face at home in Riyadh in their final match.

Northern Ireland and Bosnia upset the odds
In Europe, the two surprise packages are most definitely Northern Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina. Nigel Worthington's team are sitting pretty on top of Group 3 after a 3-2 win away to Poland and a 1-0 success at home to Slovenia. Bosnia, meanwhile, got the upper hand in both their home and away clashes with Belgium and now stand second behind Spain in Group 5, four points clear of Turkey. These two underdogs are currently bang on form and harbour legitimate hopes of making it to South Africa.

As well as Northern Ireland, Slovakia are also ahead of big guns Poland and Czech Republic in Group 3, while Denmark and Hungary are making all the running ahead of Portugal in Group 1. Those two sides, coached by Morten Olsen and Erwin Koeman respectively, are seven points clear of FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates, and although the Hungarians have played one game more, nerves must be jangling in the Portuguese camp.

Big three off to a shaky start in Africa
Francis Kasonde, Emmanuel Adebayor, Pierre Aubameyang and Roguy Meye have good reason to celebrate at the moment after scoring the goals which earned Zambia, Togo and Gabon surprising results as the final African qualifying round got underway. The Zambians managed a draw against current African champions Egypt, while Togo defeated Cameroon and Gabon overcame Morocco.

The north African teams were particularly disappointed with their false starts, but as Egypt striker Mido pointed out, "this early defeat by no means spells the end of the road for us". Gabon coach Alain Giresse, in contrast, was delighted with his team's victory over a side coached by fellow Frenchman Roger Lemerre, saying "to face an opponent as tough as Morocco and come away with the three points is incredible."

Honeymoon period over for Maradona
All of the above surprises pale in comparison to Bolivia's achievement. No-one could have dreamed that Erwin Sanchez's team would hand out a 6-1 thrashing to two-time FIFA World Cup-winners Argentina, who had previously been riding high on the back of Diego Maradona's appointment as coach. Lionel Messi had been filling the latter's legendary number 10 shirt to good effect in recent matches but it was the unheralded Joaquin Botero who proved to be the Albiceleste's downfall. The 31-year-old striker notched a hat-trick to take his tally in the qualifiers to eight goals, putting him top of the South American scoring charts.

The 1978 and 1986 FIFA World Cup winners now find themselves in a lowly fourth place, and with trips to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay still to come, they are by no means certainties to qualify. One crumb of comfort for the Argentinians is that Paraguay also slipped up this week, losing 2-0 to Uruguay and only managing a 1-1 draw with Ecuador.

Have your say
Misery loves company, and it's always good to share your joy, so write in and let us know how you feel about the shocks of the past few days! Just click on 'add your comment' below and have your say.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brazil back to winning ways

Posted by Volkan at 05:27 0 comments Links to this post
Luis Fabiano scored twice as Brazil strolled to a 3-0 win over a demoralised Peru in a hopelessly one-sided 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Wednesday.
Brazil, who have 21 points from 12 games, moved up to second in the South American group and cut the gap between themselves and leaders Paraguay to three points. Peru, with seven points, went five adrift at the bottom of the ten-team table and have no realistic hope of ending their 24-year wait for a FIFA World Cup finals appearance.
Their dismal form comes as coach Jose del Solar has controversially refused to pick German-based strikers Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan because of alleged indiscipline nearly 18 months ago. Brazil had drawn their previous three home qualifiers 0-0 - against Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia - but this time got the early breakthrough they needed.

Kaka, who missed Sunday's 1-1 draw in Ecuador through injury, was fouled by Carlos Zambrano and Luis Fabiano placed his penalty just beyond Leao Butron's outstretched arm to open the scoring in the 18th minute. After that, it was a question of how many Brazil would score.

The second came nine minutes later when Elano chipped the ball over the Peru defence and Luis Fabiano chested it down and scored despite not hitting the ball cleanly. Butron prevented Brazil from adding a third before half-time when he denied Robinho with his feet after the hosts sliced through the Peru defence, then saved a powerful drive by Daniel Alves.

Luis Fabiano was denied a hat-trick when Butron tipped over his header on the hour. But midfielder Felipe Melo added the third four minutes later when he won two challenges in midfield, burst into the area and placed his shot between Butron and the near post.

Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who almost single-handedly earned Brazil their draw on Sunday, prevented Peru from scoring when he tipped Alexander Sanchez's drive onto the crossbar.

Altidore lifts USA to victory

Posted by Volkan at 05:25 0 comments Links to this post
Jozy Altidore's hat-trick accounted for all the scoring as USA scored a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in the North and Central America and Caribbean region.The 19-year-old Altidore scored in the 13th, 71st and 89th minutes, but veteran captain Landon Donovan also played a key role in creating each goal.With the victory, Bob Bradley's team solidified their position atop the table in the final phase of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with seven points. The US have already notched a win over Mexico and a draw against El Salvador. Trinidad and Tobago, guided by Colombian Francisco Maturana, have two points from three matches after draws against El Salvador and Honduras.
The top three teams from the six-nation final phase of qualifying advance directly to South Africa 2010, while the fourth-placed team play off against the fifth-placed team from South America.

Dzeko double downs Belgium

Posted by Volkan at 05:24 0 comments Links to this post
Edin Dzeko struck twice early in the first half for Bosnia, who secured a 2-1 victory over Belgium today to raise their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Dzeko also scored in the stunning 4-2 win over the same opponents in Genk on Saturday, and this latest success kept Bosnia in second place in Group 5, six points behind leaders Spain.The Wolfsburg forward scored the first goal in the 12th minute following a corner, and struck again three minutes later after a pass from Senijad Ibricic.

Belgium were reduced to ten men just after the hour when Alex Witsel was sent off for violent conduct, but grabbed a consolation goal two minutes from time through Gill Swerts.

"We demostrated a heroic and tactical defence," said Bosnia coach Miroslav Blazevic.

Bosnians celebrated in the streets of the capital Sarajevo and other big towns, honking car horns and setting off fireworks.

Bosnia are bidding to reach their first major tournament as an independent nation.

Big guns fire as Poland cut loose

Posted by Volkan at 05:23 0 comments Links to this post

The Netherlands' Rafael van der Vaart celebrates after scoring against Macedonia during their 2010 W

It was a fruitful evening's work for most of Europe's traditional heavyweights on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with the exception of title holders Italy - held at home by the Republic of Ireland. Spain, England and the Netherlands all won to move yet closer to sealing their place in South Africa. FIFA.com brings you all you need to know about the sixth Matchday of European Zone qualifying, which provided no fewer than 63 strikes in 23 matches - an average of 2.73 per game.

The big match
Turkey 1-2 Spain
Goals: Semih Senturk 26 (Turkey); Xabi Alonso 63 pen, Albert Riera 90+2 (Spain).

The European champions' finishing and fitness levels eventually helped them pick up all three points away against Turkey in their toughest match of the group so far. The home side, who controlled the midfield in the first half, opened the scoring via Semih Senturk and could well have added to their tally before the interval. After the break, however, Spain moved up a few gears and equalised through Xabi Alonso's penalty just after the hour mark. And just two minutes after Tuncay Sanli missed the chance to seal a memorable Turkish success, up popped Albert Riera to clinch victory for La Roja, who equalled their own 31-match unbeaten record.

The surprises
Czech Republic 1-2 Slovakia
Goals: Martin Skrtel 30 o.g. (Czech Republic); Stanislav Sestak 23, Erik Jendrisek 83 (Slovakia).

Unconvincing and incapable of imposing themselves on the game, a Czech Republic side missing several experienced players crashed to a 2-1 defeat at home to Slovakia, for whom Erik Jendrisek scored a late winner. The Slovaks are now second in Group 3 with the Czechs back in fourth.

Italy 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Goals: Vincenzo Iaquinta 10 (Italy), Robbie Keane 89 (Ireland).

The reigning world champions played 87 minutes with just ten men after the early dismissal of forward Giampaolo Pazzini, yet still managed to open the scoring when Vincenzo Iaquinta met a cross from Fabio Grosso. Ireland cranked up the pressure, however, and got their reward in the shape of a last-gasp equaliser from man of the match Robbie Keane. Suitably spurred on, the boys in green subsequently went close to snatching a winner in injury time.

The groups
In Group 1, joint leaders Denmark and Hungary both won and now enjoy a seven-point cushion over struggling Portugal, although the Hungarians have played a game more.

Israel, held at home by Greece on Saturday, completed a disappointing few days by going down 2-1 away to the same opponents and dropped down to fourth spot in Group 2. Switzerland, who beat Moldova 2-0, are level on points at the top with Greece while Latvia are three points further back after a 2-0 success over Luxembourg.

Northern Ireland carved out a slender 1-0 victory over Slovenia in Group 3 courtesy of Warren Feeney's solitary strike. That kept Nigel Worthington's men a point clear of Slovakia, although they have played two games more than their closest rivals. Poland enjoyed the most convincing result of the evening, meanwhile, putting ten goals past San Marino without reply to post their biggest ever winning margin.

The situation changed little in Group 4, with Russia notching a 1-0 success in Liechtenstein to remain four points shy of Germany, having contested one match less. For their part, Joachim Low's pacesetters triumphed 2-0 in Wales.

With Spain refusing to drop points in Group 5, Bosnia-Herzegovina did their best to apply pressure by collecting an excellent 2-1 win away against Belgium, with Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko registering both their goals. The victors now enjoy a four-point lead over Turkey in the race for second spot.

Despite conceding Andriy Shevchenko's 23rd goal in qualifiers for the global showcase, England overcame Ukraine 2-1 at Wembley to strengthen their grip on Group 6. The section leaders are enjoying their best ever start to a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign after five wins from five, with Croatia five points further back following their 2-0 success in Andorra.

In Group 7, France made their superiority count to edge a hard-fought match against Lithuania 1-0 at the Stade de France, Franck Ribéry once again making the difference for Les Bleus. The win lifted Raymond Domenech's charges within two points of leaders Serbia, with Romania still suffering further down the standings after they lost 2-1 in Austria.

Bulgaria overcame Cyprus 2-0 in Group 8 but lie an imposing seven points back from Italy and five behind second-placed Ireland. Lastly in Group 9, the Netherlands are virtually assured of their place in South Africa after racking up their fifth consecutive triumph, this time seeing off Macedonia 4-0.

The stat
10 - The number of unanswered goals scored by Poland against San Marino to give them their largest ever margin of victory, superseding the 9-0 win they recorded against Norway in 1963. The biggest ever win during a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Europe remains the work of West Germany, however, who saw off Cyprus 12-0 in 1969.

The goal
Wales 0-2 Germany
Goal: Michael Ballack 11 (0-1)

Handed possession 35 metres out from goal off a throw-in, Ballack took one touch before unleashing a thunderous effort with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey helpless and unable to stop the ball nestling in the top corner of the net.

What they said
"We didn't deserve to lose twice to Spain. I've seen lots of Spain's matches and I promise you that very few teams created as many chances against them as we did," Fatih Terim, Turkey coach.

Have Your Say
Which will be the first team to qualify for South Africa from the European Zone?

Argentina hit for six in Bolivia

Posted by Volkan at 05:20 0 comments Links to this post
Bolivia's Marcelo Martins (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Argentina

Bolivia ended Argentina's 100 per cent record under Diego Maradona in emphatic fashion with a 6-1 victory in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying.

Striker Joaquin Botero led the charge with a hat-trick that included a penalty, while Marcelo Martins, Didi Torrico and Brazilian-born Alex da Rosa shared the others. Luis Gonzalez replied for the visitors, who suffered their worst defeat since an infamous 5-0 home loss to Colombia in 1993.

Argentina's misery was completed when substitute Angel di Maria was sent off after only seven minutes on the pitch. Maradona's team have 19 points from 12 games in the 10-team South American Zone while Bolivia have 12 points.

Argentina's attempts to keep possession were thwarted as the ball bobbled on the difficult pitch, while Maradona looked on helplessly. Bolivia employed their usual tactic of peppering the visitors goal with long-range shots, hoping the unusual flight of the ball would catch out goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

Carrizo had already turned away one Martins shot before Bolivia went ahead in the 12th minute when the Ukraine-based forward scrambled the ball in after a mix-up in the defence. Torrico then hit the crossbar with a 30-metre effort.

Lionel Messi nearly pulled one back in the 20th minute when he ran from the halfway line, played a one-two with Carlos Tevez and scooped the ball over Carlos Arias who just managed to tip it away. Five minutes later, Luis Gonzalez levelled with a speculative 40-metre shot which bounced awkwardly six metres in front of goal and flew over Arias into the net.

Bolivia regained the lead eight minutes later when Javier Zanetti was judged to have fouled Da Rosa and Botero converted the penalty. In the 45th minute, Arias sent a long goal kick up field to Botero who got behind the Argentina defence and pulled the ball back for Da Rosa to head the third.

Botero, who plays in the Mexican second division for Correcaminos, headed Bolivia's fourth in the 54th minute. He completed his hat-trick 11 minutes later when he latched on to a chipped ball forward and slipped a neat finish past Carrizo for his eighth goal of the qualifiers.

Di Maria, who came on for Maxi Rodriguez in the 57th minute, was sent off for a wild lunge at Ronald Garcia seven minutes later.


Germany stroll to victory

Posted by Volkan at 05:19 0 comments Links to this post
Germany's midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger (R) vies for the ball against Wales' midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Germany took another ominous step towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ but at least Wales' youngsters were not humiliated at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Wales boss John Toshack can at least be thankful for that small mercy after the soul-searching which followed Saturday's embarrassing home defeat to Finland, but the points in World Cup Group 4 were always heading to a Germany side which was never stretched.

Toshack made five changes from the side which lost so miserably to Finland. He lost skipper Craig Bellamy earlier today with a recurrence of his knee problem, while Jason Koumas was out with a hip problem. Elsewhere he axed Chris Gunter, Carl Fletcher and David Edwards, bringing in Sam Ricketts following suspension, Ashley Williams, Robert Earnshaw, Sam Vokes and Aaron Ramsey, for his full debut.

Germany made just one change from the side which beat Liechtenstein, Simon Rolfes taking over from Marcell Jansen. Wales were captained by Simon Davies in Bellamy's absence with a totally reconstructed side around the Fulham man.

Germany took the lead after just 11 minutes when Ballack unleashed a swerving drive from 30 yards that crashed into the top corner past Wayne Hennessey.

To their credit Wales side were running and fighting for every ball as the Germans' passing game threatened to overrun them.

And they were getting forward. Ramsey, 18, up against Ballack in midfield, was looking for space and trying to keep possession of the ball and had two efforts on goal charged down on the edge of the box. Wales had a decent chance to equalise after 21 minutes. Ricketts crossed from the right, Vokes headed down and Earnshaw saw his close-range effort blocked by Robert Enke.

Joe Ledley then surged into the box to be brought down by Serdar Tasci, the defender looking to handle the ball as he fell. Germany's menace increased and Hennessey plunged to his left to keep out a 20-yarder from Thomas Hitzlsperger after a tapped free-kick. Then Mario Gomez drove just wide from outside the box.

Hennessey saved superbly from a fierce shot from Lukas Podolski, the Germans looking dangerous every time they came forward, but Wales were showing spirit and when Gareth Bale lifted a free-kick into the box, James Collins rose to head narrowly wide.

After an encouraging first half Wales did not need a stroke of bad luck just three minutes into the second period. Collins had held up Gomez on the right and looked to have run the ball out but the Stuttgart striker kept the ball in. His low cross to the near post was then stabbed past Hennessey by Williams' out-stretched boot for Germany's second.

England leave it late

Posted by Volkan at 05:18 0 comments Links to this post

John Terry came to England's rescue with an 86th-minute header to keep Fabio Capello's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ road train steaming towards South Africa.

When Chelsea misfit Andriy Shevchenko flashed home an equaliser for Ukraine, who were trailing to Peter Crouch's opener, that familiar Wembley gloom started to descend. It took Terry to raise the roof, smartly steering home Steven Gerrard's knock-down from a trademark David Beckham free-kick to make it five Group Six wins on the trot for Capello and his boys. Capello's double-fisted victory celebration emphasised the importance of Terry's goal.

As tonight's opponents must meet Croatia on 6 June, the same day as England take on Kazakhstan, the Three Lions will return to base to face Andorra four days later knowing their place at the biggest stage of all could be virtually secure four months ahead of schedule. This was not a fluent England performance. There was too much hesitancy and too many unforced errors for that.

Full-backs Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole were among the culprits, so too was Steven Gerrard, who needlessly gave the ball away close to his own area; not that the Ukraine side could take advantage. Most obvious though was David James' misread of Anatoliy Tymoshchuk's long-range shot which bounced off his shoulder.

Sixteen months ago against Croatia, Scott Carson made the same kind of blunder and the ball squirmed in. This time it bounced kindly for John Terry, who blasted it out of the England penalty area. Capello has proved to be better than McClaren in a number of areas. Crucially, it seems he also enjoys better luck.

England were already in front by that stage, thanks to one of the flashes of inspiration which were the opening period's staple diet. Wayne Rooney provided it with a deft flicked header that bounced wide off a defender to earn England a corner which Frank Lampard dropped on to the head of Chelsea team-mate John Terry.

The England skipper could not get enough power into his effort to cause any damage himself. What he did manage to do was guide it into the path of Crouch, who turned smartly and let fly with a six-yard volley which cannoned into Andrii Piatov before zooming into the net.

Yet if the Portsmouth star's 15th international goal was the tangible evidence of England's bright new world, the performance of Rooney was a pretty spectacular supporting act. Although there were occasional glimpses of frustration when England's approach work did not match his expectation, they were outweighed by moments of pure genius.

The overhead kick that brushed the roof of Piatov's net after just seven minutes was awesome in its simplicity and he looked well set to burst clear inside the Ukraine penalty area when he was mercilessly chopped down on England's next attack.

Steven Gerrard curled the free-kick narrowly wide after Rooney had been upended. The Liverpool star also got on the end of Rooney's low cross at the end of the half, only for Piatov to make a solid save to repel the side-footed shot.

The belated introduction of Shevchenko ten minutes into the second-half offered the visiting fans something to cheer, even, as if to ensure the Ukrainians were drowned out, Capello responded by bringing on David Beckham for his 110th cap.

By that point, Rooney had embarked on another startling run which began just inside the visitors' half and left four defenders trailing in his wake before his shot fizzed wide, Piatov uncertain whether he needed to try and keep it out or not.

Rooney continued to sprinkle the game with his unique talent. Unfortunately, after two years at Chelsea doing little to justify his £30million price tag and vast salary, Shevchenko finally did something worthy of his reputation. His instinctive finish looked like wrecking England's 100 per cent record. After 24 ill-fated months at Stamford Bridge, he should have known Terry a bit better than that.


Spain triumph in Turkey

Posted by Volkan at 05:18 0 comments Links to this post

Liverpool duo Albert Riera and Xabi Alonso were on target as Spain came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Turkey at the Ali Sami Yen stadium and retain their 100 per cent record in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying.

Star striker David Villa had been ruled out because of knee problems and, in the Valencia striker's absence, Vicente Del Bosque fielded Fernando Torres as a lone striker in front of a five-man midfield. Riera, Carlos Marchena and David Silva also came into the side from Saturday's 1-0 Group 5 win over the Turks in Madrid.

However, it was Turkey, unchanged from the match in Madrid, who went in front in the 26th minute. A long pass from Arda Turan into Spanish territory reached Tuncay Sanli, who in turn fed Semih Senturk to finish with applomb.

Spain's equaliser came in the shape of a Xabi Alonso penalty in the 62nd minute after Ibrahim Uzulmez had handled the ball in the area following a Torres header at the far post. The winner then arrived in the second minute of injury time when substitute Daniel Guiza went down the right flank and crossed for Riera to put the ball through the keeper's legs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Latvia too strong for Luxembourg

Posted by Volkan at 20:00 0 comments Links to this post
Jonathan Joubert GK (R) of Luxembourg vies with Aleksandrs Cauna (L) of Latvia

Maris Verpakovskis scored one goal and set up the other in Latvia's 2-0 win over Luxembourg in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ European Zone Group 2 qualifier.

Jurijs Zigajevs opened the scoring a minute before half-time from a pass by Verpakovskis.

Verpakovskis himself then put the result beyond doubt 15 minutes from time

Luxembourg struggled against the Latvian defence and did not pose any serious threat to home keeper Andis Vanins.


Bahrain victory makes Aussies wait

Posted by Volkan at 18:50 0 comments Links to this post
Bahrain's Sayed Adnan controls the ball Bahrain's Abdullah Al-Marzouqi fights for the ball with Qatar's Sebastian Soria (18) Bahrain's Mohammed Hubail (R) fights for the ball with Qatar's Khalfan Ibrahim

Bahrain defeated Qatar 1-0 today, forcing Australia to wait a little longer to secure their ticket to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

The Socceroos had earlier beaten Uzbekistan 2-0 in Sydney to go back to the top of Asian Zone, Group A, and would have become the first nation to qualify for the finals had this match between the two Gulf neighbours ended in a draw. Bahrain's victory was assured by striker Fouzi Aaish, who scored the all-important goal in the 52nd minute from a free-kick.

Bahrain are now third in the table with seven points. Australia top the pool with 13 points, while Japan, who did not play today, are second with 11. Uzbekistan and Qatar are on four points apiece.

The top two teams will qualify for South Africa 2010, with the third-placed side facing a play-off against their Group B counterparts for the right to compete against New Zealand for a berth at the FIFA World Cup.

Aaish's goal came from a low, curling shot struck from just outside the Qatar penalty area, which beat the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Ahmed Mohammed on the way into the far corner of the net.

Bahrain came close to doubling the lead later in the second half. Jaycee John first made a good solo move from the left, but his shot from close range struck the side netting. A few minutes later Aa'la Hubail's attempt was well saved by a diving Qatar goalkeeper Mohammed.

Both teams had their share of shots on goal in the first-half, but neither managed to hit the target. Khalfan Al Khalfan provided the first scare for the hosts early on when he burst free from the left, but his shot struck the post.

Qatar continued to pile on the pressure and midway through the first half, the Uruguay-born striker Sebastian Soria came close to scoring from a free-kick taken from just outside the penalty area. His shot breached the Bahrain wall, but goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer averted danger with a reflex save.

Bahrain made sporadic moves and like Qatar hit the post once. But their best chance came towards the end of first half, when the tall Sayed Mohammed Adnan did well to connect a Mohammed Salmeen free-kick from the left before his header brushed past the upright.

Korea Republic snatch derby win

Posted by Volkan at 15:17 0 comments Links to this post
South Korea's Kim Chi-woo celebrates South Korea's Cho Won-Hee (L) and North Korea's Pak Nam-Chol (R) fight for the ball South Korea's Kim Chi-Woo celebrates after scoring against North Korea

A late goal from substitute Kim Chi-Woo gave Korea Republic a vital win over Group 2 rivals Korea DPR in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in Seoul.

With the game between the top two heading for a draw, Kim's strike snatched the victory which puts the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists clear at the top of the standings and in reach of a seventh successive finals appearance. Korea DPR, meanwhile, slip to second after their first defeat of the campaign.

In comparison to the four draws played out by the rivals in 2008, it was an entertaining affair especially after the break, when both sides had chances. The visitors almost took the lead straight from the first whistle as Hong Yong-Jo pounced upon a loose ball outside the area and fired a vicious shot that a flying Lee Woon-Jae just managed to turn away for a corner.

After the explosive start, the action steadied for the rest of the opening period as both sides sized each other up. Korea Republic's first real effort on goal came midway through the first half as defender Hwang Jae-Won headed a Ki Sung-Yung free-kick over the bar.

The home side started to gain the upper hand and after 27 minutes Park Chu-Young's downward header found Park Ji-Sung on the edge of the six-yard box, but under heavy pressure from white shirts, the Manchester United man shot straight at Ri Myung-Guk.

Korea DPR started the second half as they started the first and Jong Tae-se almost got the visitors on the scoresheet. The Kawasaki Frontale forward met Hong's cross but his powerful header looked goalbound until it was clawed away on the line by Lee.

The hosts should have broken the deadlock in the 65th minute when a Park Chu-Young shot found its way to an unmarked Lee Keun-Ho in the penalty area but the striker fired straight at the goalkeeper. That was as close as both teams came to scoring until three minutes from time when Kim's floated free-kick from the right side caused confusion in the visiting defence and ended up going straight into the back of the net.

Victory leaves Aussies on cusp

Posted by Volkan at 14:39 0 comments Links to this post
The Socceroos celebrate Joshua Kennedy's goal against Uzbekistan Mark Bresciano (L) traps the ball against Timur Kapadze (R) of Uzbekistan Australia's Kennedy greets the crowd

Australia are on the verge of reaching for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan. The Socceroos, on top of the Asian Zone's Group 1 with 13 points, will become the first team to qualify if Bahrain and Qatar, both on four points, draw their match in Manama later today.

Australia's goals were a long time coming after a flat first half in which the Uzbeks looked the more dangerous team on the counter-attack, and through the dangerous free-kicks of captain Server Djeparov. But a goal from substitute forward Josh Kennedy and a Harry Kewell penalty inside the final 25 minutes kept the hosts unbeaten after five games, without conceding a goal.

Australia have three qualifiers remaining in June. They will face Qatar in Doha, and entertain both Bahrain and Japan.

The Uzbeks faded in the second half as they felt the effects of their long flight and short preparation following a 4-0 home win over Qatar, which revived their qualification hopes. They almost had a dream start when striker Farhod Tadjivev, who scored a hat-trick in their win on Saturday, sprinted on to a through ball in the ninth minute, but his shot went across Mark Schwarzer and just wide of the far post.

But Australia had an even better scoring chance six minutes later, when Mark Bresciano was put on goal by Scott McDonald only to shoot straight at goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

The Australians had little else to show for their slow buildups and lone striker McDonald was often isolated by the Uzbek defence. They continued to be frustrated in the second half, with Jason Culina having a stinging long-range volley tipped over the bar by Djeparov on the hour.

Coach Pim Verbeek reacted by bringing on Kennedy for McDonald, who again failed to break his international goal drought. The breakthrough came for Australia six minutes after his introduction, with the towering Karlsruhe striker heading home a Bresciano cross from the right. It was Kennedy's sixth goal in 12 appearances for his country.

The match swung decisively towards the home side when Hull City's Richard Garica was brought down in the box by defender Hayrulla Karimov. Galatasaray's Harry Kewell made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on 73 minutes, and was substituted soon after by Brett Holman to a roar from the 57,292 crowd. It was Kewell's 13th goal in 39 internationals.

Uzbekistan had a great chance deep in injury time to score, but substitute Anvarjon Soliev's goal was disallowed for offside after Schwarzer had made a great reflex save from Djeparov's shot.

Venezuela's win keeps dream alive

Posted by Volkan at 05:23 0 comments Links to this post

Venezuela's teammates of Juan Arango (2L) celebrate the second goal against Colombia Venezuela's Nicolas Fedor celebrates his goal against Colombia

Venezuela scored twice in the last 15 minutes, including a stunning Juan Arango free-kick, to beat a ten-man Colombia 2-0 on Tuesday and keep alive their chances of qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup™.

Nicolas Fedor, who plays for Salamanca in the Spanish second division, broke the deadlock when he turned in a low cross from Anyelo Pena in the 77th minute, only two minutes after coming on as a substitute. Four minutes later Arango curled a free-kick in off the underside of the crossbar as the hosts made Colombia pay for their ultra-defensive tactics.

Colombia, who have now scored only six goals in their 12 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, had midfielder Abel Aguilar dismissed in the 27th minute for a violent lunge at Alejandro Moreno. However, it made little difference as the visitors seemed incapable of putting any sort of attacking moves together before or after his dismissal.

Venezuela's chances nearly all came from Arango's left foot. The captain was close three times in the first half, all from outside the penalty area, and missed a sitter midway through the second when he side-footed across the face of goal from a free position.

The win left Venezuela with 13 points from 12 games in the ten-team group, one behind Colombia, three behind fifth-placed Uruguay and five behind fourth-placed Brazil. The top four teams qualify directly for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the fifth play off against the fourth CONCACAF team.