Soccer Night In South Africa: Rivalries Renewed

It was a day of intrigue and controversy at the 2010 World Cup today. Two pairs of rivals met to determine who would go on and who would go home. The biggest story of the day, as seems so often the case, was the referees. A disallowed goal in one game and an allowed goal in the other was likely the deciding factor in each match.

Germany 4 vs. England 1 – One call can change a game. Even in a game that finished as a blowout, one call in the first half can change how the rest of the game is played. The Germans started this game on fire with goals by Miroslav Klose in the 20th minute and by Lukas Podolski in the 32nd minute. The Three Lions pulled one back quickly. In the 37th minute, a Steven Gerard cross was headed home by Matt Upson to cut the lead in half. The lead looked erased one minute later when Frank Lampard fired a long shot that bounced off the underside of the crossbar into then immediately out of the net. The ball crossed the line by a clear two feet but the referees didn’t see it that way so it was no goal. The English stayed on the attack but fell victim twice to the German counter-attack. In the 67th and 70th minutes, Thomas Mueller took advantage of a thin Three Lions backline as they pushed to close the gap. Those goals ended any chance Britain had of advancing. While the finishing gap was decisive, there will be much discussion about the effect of that missed goal call and whether technology should have been used to correct the call. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, it won’t help England who have another early exit.

Argentina 3 vs. Mexico 1 – Regardless of what you think of Diego Maradona’s coaching, the Argentinians are a talented side. They proved that with a dominant win over arch-nemesis Mexico. Like the day’s earlier game, there was a controversial call that changed the tide of the game. Carlos Tevez headed home a Leo Messi pass in the 26th minute. Tevez appeared to be just offside as Messi played the ball but the Mexican appeals were rejected. That seemed to throw El Tri off their game as seven minutes later, a defender played a perfect ball to Gonzalo Higuain who danced around the keeper for the goal. La Albiceleste weren’t done. In the 52nd minute, Tevez unleashed a rocket into the top corner of the Mexican net from about 25 yards to seal the game for Argentina. Javier Hernandez got one back for El Tri in the 71st minute but it was too little, too late. With the win, Argentina moves on to face Germany in the quarter-finals. Both sides have looked very impressive through the first two stages of the tournament. I’m very tempted to say that the winner of that Round of 8 match will feature in the final.

Man of the Day: Carlos Tevez (Argentina) – 2 goals

Monday’s Schedule:
Netherlands (1st Group E) vs. Slovakia (2nd Group F)
Brazil (1st Group G) vs. Chile (2nd Group H)

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