World Cup Round Up June 25
By Joe Hizul
Slovakia 3 vs. Italy 2
Goals: Slovakia - Vittek (25, 73), Kopunek (89); Italy - Di Natale (81),Quagliarella (92)
Paraguay 0 vs. New Zealand 0
Another giant went down. Defending champion Italy was booted out of the World Cup after a harrowing game with Slovakia which saw them losing the game 2 – 3. It was a long odd for Slovakia, coming into the match from the bottom rung of Group F. They needed nothing but a clear victory to progress through, where as the Italian just needed a draw.
It was a thrilling game that unfolded on the pitch. Slovakia took the lead early on in the first half, when in the 25th minutes, Robert Vittek slipped through two defenders before receiving the ball and kicking it forcefully pass keeper Federico Marchetti. Vittek scored again in the 73rd minutes to put Slovakia 2 up in front.
This second goals galvanises the Italian into action, and they took the offense intensely to the Slovakian side. Eight minutes later, Vincenzo Iaquinta fired a shot at goal that was deflected by Slovakian keeper Jan Mucha, but the rebound saw the ball fell perfectly into Antonio Di Natale’s path, who deftly put it away for an easy goal.
But the nail in the coffin for the Azzurri came from Slovakian’s substitute Kamil Kopunek, who lobbed the ball past Marchetti into the net in the 89th minutes, restoring the Slovak’s two-goal advantage. Fabio Quagliarella managed to sneak in a shot into Slovakia’s net in injury time, but by then, it was too late.
With this win, Slovakia catapulted into second place in Group F, and will join Group leader Paraguay into the knock-out stage. Paraguay and New Zealand played to a scoreless draw in a tepid affair in the other Group F match.
Cameroon 1 vs. Holland 2
Goals: Cameroon - Eto’o (65); Holland – Van Persie (36), Hunterlaar (83)
Denmark 1 vs. Japan 3
Goals: Denmark – Tomasson (81); Japan – Honda (17), Endo (30), Okazaki (87)
The Dutch completed the group stage matches by beating Cameroon 2 -1 to clinch maximum points to top Group E. Holland are already assured of their place in the next round, so it's the African that was feeling the heat. Cameroon put on the pressure from the go, but it was Holland who took the early lead when Cameroon keeper Hamidou Souleyman couldn’t contained a strike by Robin van Persie in the 36th minutes. Van Persie exchanged passes with Van der Vaart that saw him funnelling the ball through the hapless keeper’s leg, his first goal of the WC.
Cameroon had the chance to equalise in the 65th minutes when Van der Vaart used an arm in the penalty box, with the referee having no hesitation pointing to the spot. Samuel Eto’o took the kick, which saw the ball thundered past Holland keeper Maarten Stekelenburg’s outstretched hand. The score was now levelled.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk bring in his influential playmaker Arjen Robben, sidelined in previous outings by hamstring injury, in the last 17 minutes of the game. It was a fresh rejuvenated Robben that sealed the fate of the African. Shortly after coming in, Robben cracked the Cameroon’s post with a curling shot that saw keeper Souleyman well beaten. From the rebound, fellow substitute Klass Jan Huntelaar had no trouble picking up the ball and sending it through to the back of the net, putting Holland back into the lead. This lost put Cameroon at the bottom of Group E, without any points at all – a sad exit from the WC for the once proud Indomitable Lions.
Holland will next face Slovakia in the last 16 on June 28 (10pm Malaysian time)
If it’s a sad outcome for the African side, then it’s the opposite for Group E runners-up Japan. They became the second team from Asia after South Korea to qualify through to Round of 16 by beating Denmark 3 – 1 in the other Group E match of the night.
Two stunning free kicks in the first half by Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo, and substitute Shinji Okazaki 87th minutes goals sealed the victory for Japan. Denmark only managed a consolation goal in the 81st minutes when Jon Dahl Tomasson got lucky on his saved penalty kick rebound.
An impressive win by Japan, and they will next take on Paraguay in the last 16 on June 29 (10pm Malaysian time).