Belgium in the Last 16, Algeria and Portugal Still in With a Chance

By Oliver Ngwenya    23-Jun-2014 21:17 UTC+02:00

The group matches have been wrapped up in the FIFA World Cup that is going on in Brazil with the last of three matches being played on the night of the twenty second and the morning of the twenty third. A total of eleven goals were scored in matches that saw seven cautions being issued by the referees. A total of about 150 000 spectators were in the various stadia to watch these matches.

In the Estadio do Maracana, in a match that was handled by German referee, Felix Brych and attended by about 73 000 spectators, Belgium managed to book themselves a place in the group of the last sixteen when they narrowly beat Russia to win their second match in a row at the FIFA World Cup. It took Divock Origi all of eighty eight minutes to find the opener for the match which turned out to be the closing as well because it ensured that the Belgians locked away their qualification. The match result is, however, not a true reflection of what transpired as Russia were the most likely to score many a times. The Fabio Capello coached side had many opportunities to take the lead all through the match but they just did not put them away. In the twelfth minute, Faizulin picked up a pass from the left and drilled a low drive that Courtois did well to parry out. The Russians were back again just before the thirty minute mark when Kanunnikov beat his marker to the ball inside the Belgian penalty area and went down but the referee said no to the shouts for penalty. The Belgians also mounted some sporadic attacks of their own like in the thirty fifth minute when Mertens let loose a cross-shot from a tight angle on the right. As the clock chimed the eighty seventh mark, Hazard, who plies his trade with Chelsea produced some magnificent play on the left flank and, reaching the byline, cut it back to the Lille striker who, in turn, crashed a high ball into the Eastern European’s net.

In a match that saw Algeria end their run of seven World Cup matches without a win, the manage to beat South Korea by four goals to two, scoring more goals than they have scored in their last seven World Cup matches combined. The scored started coming as early as the twenty sixth minute when Slimani latched on to a long range pass from the back, shrugged off a challenge from two defenders and slid the ball just under the South Korean goalie. Two minutes later, they were at it again, this time with a well placed header by Halliche from a corner kick on the left hand side. Ten minutes later, good interchange between Djabou and Slimani and poor marking from the South Korean defenders ensured that the African team got their lead widened. It appears that the defence in both teams are not capable of dealing with long passes. One such pas found the Algerian defenders napping and Son Heuing-min did not hesitate to make them pay. In the sixty eighth minute, Brahimi finished off a brilliant exchange with a low drive under the goalkeeper to extend the Algerian lead. The South Koreans pulled one back two minutes later when Lee Keun-ho pulled his marker to the goal line before cutting back to Koo Ja-Cheol quickly placed the ball beyond the goalkeepers’s reach.

In the early hours of the twenty third, the United States of America and Portugal squared up and what a thriller it was. Coming from a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany, Portugal were on fire and this showed in their goal which came in the fifth minute. A cross from Veloso was missed by the goal keeper and landed perfectly onto Nani who had the easiest of tasks to push the ball over the line and raise the waning hopes of the Portuguese. The Americans were not to be outdone and in the sixty third minute, were rewarded with a goal. This came from a thunderbolt of a shot from Jones into the far corner that did not give the keeper a chance. Jones was later issued with a yellow card for an untoward challenge on Mutinho. The USA went into the driving seat of the game for the first time. After a brilliant run on the flank, Yedlin made a superb cross which was searching for Zusi. His shot was deflected onto the path of Dempsey who slotted it home. It was beginning to look like Christiano Ronaldo’s outfit was set to board an early flight home when, in literally the last minute of added time, Ronaldo flighted a beautiful cross which landed square on the head of Valera. He did not make a mistake and as a result, Portugal are still in witha chance to progress to the next stage of the competitions.

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