Day: June 18, 2006

The American Dream?

Italy 1-1 USA This, of course, is the day that everything went, well, a bit crazy. If things hadn’t been bizarre enough earlier on in the evening between the Czechs and Ghana, the USA and Italy threw up an extraordinary match of bad temper, astonishing fouls, and, eventually, two goals. It all started relatively calmly, with Gilardino scoring a smart diving header. Five minutes later, Zaccardo scored what will probably turn out the be the bizarrest own goal of the tournament, slicing a routine clearance into his own net. Then suddenly, everything went a bit mad. First up, De Rossi, going for a routine header with Brian McBride, seemed to momentarily forget that he was a footballer and assumed the identity of Jackie Chan, and elbowed the unfortunate American so violently that he was left prostrate on the ground, covered in blood. He will of course, miss the next match, and can expect FIFA to extend his exile from the first team for longer than that. So, it was advantage America, but they couldn’t take advantage of it. In fact, within fifteen minutes they’d contrived to turn it to their disadvantage. First of all, Mastroeni had what doctors call, “a sudden rush of blood to the head”, and lunged in with two feet on Pirlo. Ten men each. Deuce. Then, two minutes into the second half, Eddie Pope joined...

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Czeched Out

Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana The rest of the day was taken up with results that no-one could or would have predicted. I know it sounds like excuses, but consider this: Ghana, whilst they had showed flashes of inspiration against Italy, hadn’t shown that they had anything like the defensive nous to deal with the likes of Thomas Rosicky, Pavel Nedved, et al. The Czechs, however, had turned in one of the performances of the first round of matches against the USA. People were talking about them possibly going all the way. There is no question that the Czechs were outplayed. Had it no been for Petr Cech, it could have been five or six. But it wasn’t. It was a bad day at the office for the Czech defender Ujfalusi, whose error gifted Asamoah Gyan to open the scoring just after a minute in. In the second half, he was red-carded for bringing down Gyan (although the referee didn’t appear in any hurry to send him off, there was a good two-minute wait while he calmed down protests and, mystifyingly, booked Gyan for taking the penalty too quickly. It was second time lucky for the Czechs. Having scored with his first penalty, Gyan hit the post. And, yes, the yellow card keeps him out of their final group match. Muntari scored a near perfunctory second goal with twelve minutes...

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