Day Nine…

Day nine 

Iran v

this one is like a cup final ….If Iran lose they are OUT, if
Portugal win they are THROUGH….
Play maker Deco is back for

Iran did well at 1-1 with the Mexicans but then a terrible defensive mistake gave away a goal and the Mexicans took control….

Ali Daye is on the bench for Iran. Experienced Pro.

Portugal 5-2
 Portugal are far stronger and will be looking to improve on their cautious 1-0 victory over

Big Felipe Scolari is respected by his players…Maniche brought into the team at the expense of Simaoref is French.Ali Karimi is still the main man for
 Eusebio fans his face…hot sun on the crowd..

Most of pitch is shaded from the intense light by the vast cover of the stadium ceiling.


2-Deco shows poor touch with first two passes. 

4- Deco changes boots.

8- Maniche juggles ball 20 yards out then half volleys shot a few feet wide of the post.

13-Deco shot from inside 18 yard area..good save..

20- YELLOW for Kouryan IRA 

23- Iran force two free kicks after their first real period of possession..

28- Carvalho goes close with header from Figo corner

31- Iranian striker hits the post, but he was offside,…68% possession for
Portugal but nothing to show for it…

37- Ronaldo goes close, cuts in from right, shoots hard and direct,, into side netting….

40-Iran break down right wing, but ball pulled back into area was a yard behind the strikers…
Iran growing in stature..

42- Sturdy tackle floors Miguel…mid air collision with Zoroti../.Miguel may be injured, collar bone perhaps or other neck area injury

45- Figo pings ball across goal, but Pauletta is inches away from meeting it with his head..

45- YELLOW Mohammadi for 'unsporting behaviour' …or a 'intentional hack' as I would call it myself.

47- HT 

Iran playing as a team.
Portugal playing as a loosely connected group of individuals…


Iran still holding their own and threatening on occasion,, but their movements lack the input of a decent striker…

54- Pauletta tries side foot first time volley from deep cross..but ball flies over the bar..

56- Ronaldo has left foot shot from inside the are well saved by KEEPER63 GOAL Deco scores for
Portugal….its taken a long time coming…

Miraspor beaten finally.. Deco hit it first time from the edge of the 18 yard box, unstoppable drive. truly wonderful technique is needed to hit a ball so cleanly when it is played across your intended shot's direction, there is only a split instance when the ball can be struck with accuracy, and Deco found that split instance.Class.

Portugal 1-0

65- SUB Karimi off
Zandi on. IRA

FK for Ronaldo..wide

67- SUB Petit for Maniche POR

69- Ball down the middle finds Iranian striker whose shot goes just wide..should have done better

77- FK for
Iran, right of goal..20 yards……off wall for a throw.

79-Iran striker, Carsina, connects well with cross..but he can't test Ricardo…

82– Penalty for Portugal, after Deco is taken down..penalty.. Deco who won the free kick with his dribbling…Ronaldo takes GOAL 2-0

88- FK for Ronaldo. left of 18 yard box..Well hit..brushes side netting..

93- Pauletta with a chance at the death but his shot was tame…goal kick

96- FT 

Portugal had to work hard to break down a very tough Iranian team who refused to go down without a real scrap…Deco’s goal was spectacular, his technique with the ball coming across his path, hitting it first time, with such accuracy , was astonishing..
Iran have acquitted themselves well in the finals, but the lack of a goal scorer and creative midfielder left them unable to build on a solid defensive performance.

Czechs V

The Africans did very well against the Italians, even though they lost 2-0. Holding a very excited Azzurri to just the two goals was a feat in itself. But I don’t think
Ghana can trouble the Czechs..Nedved, Rosicky and co were magnificent against he US when beating them 2-0..They have lost Koller, but another giant has been brought in to replace him, so the system will remain the same:: one huge guy up front with 5 midfielders all ready to burst forward to make the formation from 4-5-1 to 4-4-3..
Barros also missing…their best two strikers are OUTKuffour is dropped by Ghana after his mistake led to
Italy’s second goal in the first match defeat.
Essien and Appiah need to show their mettle.Prediction: a real scrap……1-2 Czechs…


Ghana win corner in first few seconds..

2-GOAL Gyan finds himself just outside box, chests the ball down then shapes on his left ,shoots, beats Ceca!!1-0 to

3- Appiah drives forward from midfield…shoots from range…just wide….What a start for

Now time to get back on the juice….where is that Stolyncha…

Czechs will want to win this one to avoid having to face
Italy desperate for points…..

12- Rosicky runs into final third, lays it off to Nedved who hits a fair shot for the Ghanaian Keeper,
Kingston, to save comfortably.

12- Nedved bites the arm of Amaoh…, but the ref turns two blind eyes…

14- Appiah has a go from 30 yards…driven shot..a metre wide…good strike..Encouraging stuff from
Ghana ,
Muntari is strong in the challenge. (Ghana left back).

18- Appiah told to calm down by the ref.

18- cynical foul by Addo GHA..Yellow. deserved.

22- Nedved hits a pathetic drive from around 30 yards out, that trickles over the line for a goal kick..

23- Muntari allowed to run at the
Czech. defence, unleashing a shot from 25 yards,, a few metres wide…

30- Nedved sets Poborsky free down the right, but the wingers shot flashes across goal and a few feet past the post. 

33- Jam is found in box by Appiah, but the strikers shot is brilliantly saved by Cech..Desperate defending from
Rozehnal CZE is run through by Jam

37- Essien BOOKED for clattering Nedved..
Ghana are brave and full of zest

39- Appiah takes a pop from 25 yards…rolled a few feet wide of Cech’s post..

40- Jam lying down injured after falling awkwardly on his back.Asamoah is Jam…name, not the spread.

Jankulowski plays for Milan-Czech left midfield/wingback.

44-Superb tackle by Essien denies Rosicky a goal-scoring chance in the box…


Outstanding performance by Ghana. After the early goal by Jam, they have continued to threaten to score and defend like lions. Koller’s replacement in attack has been ineffective and without the knockdowns to run onto and hit for winners, the
Czech. midfield maestros of Nedved and Rosicky have had to take the game forward themselves. Their lack of firepower is showing. Despite the admirable tenacity and doggedness shown by the Angolans, the Czechs remain in the game at 1-0…Another goal by
Ghana may be enough to win it.

Angola have shown they mean business and desire all three points from this one….

Czechs aren’t been allowed any time on the ball. 


Sub GHA Boateng on for Addo

SUB CZE Polak replaces Karkoski

Kingston in the Angolan goal, says a quiet prayer and looks to the heavens.

46- Nedved scores with header from inside the 6 yard box..OFFSIDE….

49-Lokvenc is BOOKED for kicking out at Amaoh. He will now miss the game against

52- fast counter by GHA..Jam is through, takes shot from twenty yards out, world class save from Cech>Corner 

55- SUB CZE Stajner the striker replaces right winger Poborsky…The Czechs go with two big guys up front..

57- flowing move by Czechs sets up shot by Brazij, acrobatic save by

60- Jankulowski gets crunched by Cech…the right back is down ……back on his feet, but hobbling..Appiah courageous.

65- PENALTY….for Ghana…Amaoh went to ground, ref thought about it for a few seconds, then gave pen…>>RED Card for Ujfalusi for dissent after disputing his foul>Yellow for Asamoah for taking penalty before ref gave the all-clear….another Czech to miss the Italy game…

67- Jam>>>from the spot>>>hits the post…..!!!!@@MISSSSED

69- Sionko for Plasil CZE SUBCzech crowd going wild after the penalty miss..even though they are down to ten men and losing the to them though for their support.

72-Amoah breaks through down right wing, bursts into box, powers a shot straight at Cech who saves well.Muntarri drives at Cech from 10 yards out on the left..another brilliant save from the Czech and Chelsea number one.End 2 End…Both teams counter attack..

75- Boateng hacks down Rosicky from behind….had to be done..YELLOW. Good tackle.Both teams playing all-out attack. not sure why
Ghana are not protecting their lead unless they are simply concluding that best defence is attack….and why not…

78- Essien erupts from midfield to drive hard at Cech who saves….Cech has been awesome. Without him his team would surely be 3 or 4 goals down…..

79- Amaoh breaks through…squares it to Amaoh who can’t beat Cech from 8 yards out…stupendous work from Cech…out quick to make the gap small…

80 SUB GHA Amaoh off for Addo…Amaoh has done very well with Jam in attack.

82- Ghana attack down the left, ball finds its way to Muntari who powers a shot past Cech..GOAL…viciously struck shot…deserved 2-0 lead for

84 YELLOW for Muntari who will now miss the next game…. SUB Jam comes off for Pimpong…

94- Polak denied by Kingston!!2nd great save from the Ghanaian stopper in 30 seconds… 

Ghana have fought for this victory for every second of the match. They didn’t allow their opponents any time or space, dictating the electric pace of the game with lighting fast attacking, courageous, brave defending and commendable spirit.
Ghana deserved this win and in truth should have won by 4 or 5 goals and they would have done had it not been for the world class quality of Petr Cech in the Czech goal who was the only difference between a respectable looking score line and a white-wash. The African nation’s first win in the world cup finals will taste delicious, beating the team that FIFA rank 2nd in the world.

Czechs have major problems in attack and defence. I am not sure if their lacklustre performance was down to the lack of Koller and/or Barros, but they just didn’t look like the same team as the one we saw demolish the
US 3-0 just a few days ago. This result implies that the Americans must be awful and we will be able to confirm or invalidate that implication in an hours time when
Italy play against the Yankees…
Ghana did very well against
Italy and I am not surprised that they despatched with this misfiring Czech team…….The football logic of this group has just been thrown out the window and run over by a lorry. Good riddance I say, but I wont be saying that if the Yankees now go out and annihilate my beloved Italian frattelli….

Even at 1-0 up, and facing ten men, the Ghanaians kept their feet firmly on the gas, relentlessly sweeping forward searching for more goals….an outstanding victory for the African debutants… 

Italy V Yankees

The Azzurri, who I patriotically support, gave their best 45 minutes for 16 years in their last game against
Ghana. That 2-0 result is looking like an amazing achievement given the Ghanaians destruction of the Czechs earlier this evening. If the form book is to be stuck to religiously, then this should be an easy match for
Italy. Zambrotta is welcomed back into the Italian rearguard though at this point I am not sure about which flank he will be making his own. I haven’t heard any news about the injured Gattuso but in all honesty the Italian midfield was so fluid and solid in the game against
Ghana, why change it???

Italy play 4-3-2-1…Yankees adopt a 4-4-2 approach.

Lewis and Beasley OUT for Bocanegra and others… 

The dark blue, cunning eyes of carnivorous Cannavaro. 

Teams which have an average age of above 28, have not won a world cup since 1958..Italians have never lost to the
 Giant striker, Luca Toni will be looking to get on the score sheet after been denied by the crossbar and robust Ghanaian defending in the first game. 

Zambrotta comes in for Grosso at left back…Gilardino and Toni in attack, with Totti just behind them..Midfield of De Rossi, Pirlo, Perrotta.Zaccardo Nesta Cannavaro Zambrotta 

Bruce Arena is longest serving coach at this years world cup. Another 3-0 defeat and I would hope his tenure will come to an end…. 


3 free kicks..all to Italy..good ref.

3- Pirlo takes 4th FK???defended…

5-5th free kick for

5- Totti BOOKED for slide on Donovan..It looked a good tackle, he won the ball..very harsh. Not Totti’s fault…but now he must be careful. Bad start..poor decision by ref. 

Game has no rhythm because ref has given 7 free kicks in 7 minutes…Uruguayan referee.Yankees piling on pressure. 

Toni is getting fouled every time the ball is played to him. 

13- Zambrotta intercepts weak pass, then drives forward down the flank, wins FK…good to see him back in the team..FK>Totti finds Cannavaro whose header is close, but 4 Italians were offside! 

14- Nesta hacks down Convey, right on edge of box. …central FK 19 yards >>Convey hits it, huge deflection off for a corner.Convey very lively for the
US. Causing problems.

16- Convey gets on the end of a cross, hits it first time from 14 yards out, high and rising…Very good chance goes begging…US dominant…first to settle into a good rhythm.

18- Dempsey drives across the goal, a few metres wide of Buffon’s post.. 

America definitely growing in confidence…
Italians lacking the sparkle we saw against
Ghana…where has it gone?

21- YELLOW for Pope for dragging down Gilardino who would have been through one on one with the keeper….deserved booking.

22- FK after Mastroeni body checks Totti…Pirlo on the FK?>>GOAL….great ball in ,curling between defenders and keeper, Gilardino with the bullet header past a fully exposed Kasey Keller on the line…It was the ball from Pirlo that made it…a perfect cross finished by the ruthless run and instincts of Gilardino
Italy 1-0

27- Cannavaro fouls Reyna, wide right….FK>>

28- FK leads to OWN GOAL for US..1-1..Zaccardo…He swung his boot at a clearance and clips the ball past an amazed- for all the wrong reasons- Buffon.

29- De Rossi is Sent off RED–blood all over McBride’s face… the field for treatment…horrific elbow to McBride’s face….Disgraceful tackle….Daniele De Rossi can have no complaints…McBride ..tears welling in his eyes….crimson stains on his cheeks and shirt…

31- clean shirt for McBride…

Strips of tape over the wound, his face is swelling up…(3 stitches needed after the match-edit)

One of the worst 'tackles' I have ever seen at the world cup finals…

31- Toni breaks down left, strides towards goal, but his shot is dragged wide….weak effort on his left foot…Now we see if Italy have any Steel…It is amazing how a game can change so quickly…..What a turn-around..

Looks like Italy have hit self-destruct..

33- Bocanegra heads powerfully over the bar….good chance…
Italy are in disarray…

That stupid own goal and De Rossi’s cage-fighter elbow, have combined to suggest the end of what was looking so promising for this Italian squad….Is this the beginning of the end??? 

Gattuso ‘the snarl’ warms up on the sidelines….we need him.Totti will come off no doubt..

35=Sub ITA Totti makes way for ‘the snarl’I am a huge fan of Gennaro Gattusso..a tightly wound up ball of aggression and passion.,…he never gives up and has fear of no man. 

36- Gattuso scores a deflected chip, but linesman mistakenly calls it offside… bad decision.Gattuso will more than add bite to
Italy's midfield, he will add poison…
 US have all the play..

42- Mastroeni drives a shot from 30 yards, hits roof of net..great effort…Lots of space on the wings for USDonovan back heel sends Reyna through, but his shot is deflected wide for a corner…

45- RED CARD for Mastroeni!!!!!great decision by ref!!!The defender goes two footed through Pirlo's ankle…definite red..deserved…could have crippled Pirlo…ten a side!!!what a match..That evens things up!!! 

Italy back in with a shout. surely.

Arena indignant, hurls piece of paper to the ground, then gets ticking off by FIFA Official… 


An incident-packed exciting fourty five minutes of football. The
US started brightly before the Italians began to impose themselves..Gilardino’s goal was delightfully created but Zaccardo’s own goal was some of the most putrid Italian defending in the history of football. If he was a Colombian, he would be shot for making an error of that magnitude. Awful, truly pathetic. Anyway, the own goal was soon followed by Daniele De Rossi’s criminal elbow on McBride which resulted in pain and blood for the American, and a red card for the Italian…It was without doubt the nastiest ‘tackle’ I have seen in a world cup since Mauro Tassotti broke the calcium-deficient nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique during the 94 finals in the US….

The fallacy of Italy's flimsy approach to the game is surely being broken into unuseable pieces….. 

With ten men, Italy were shaking, and the
US had a few chances to score a second goal…
A second Red card was seen towards the end of the first half, when Mastroeni went studs first for Pirlo’s ankles..he had to go for that, another horrible challenge…The referee has played the most prominent role in this fixture giving many needless free-kicks which greatly affected the flow of the early phases. However, both player expulsions were good decisions.Now we see the strange occurrence of a second half of ten against ten..A real test of the managers’ skills more than the players. But can the Italians regain their concentration. I would have taken of Zaccardo, with Grosso slotting in at left back and Zambrotta on the right..It was a good move for Lippi to bring on the ultra competitive and highly experienced Gennaro Gattuso who will provide the anchor man duties in the absence of departed De Rossi.  


47 ..Yellow for is his second..REDthis Uruguayan ref has gone mad…Booked for going through the back of Gilardino's leg…it was a booking but harsh considering it meant sending him off….Ref showed no emotion.FK to
Italy.>>.Pirlo..curls it just over..
Now ten men against nine….Madness. Makes for great football though. this should open up the field for some exciting play…

48- Cannavaro down injured…. 

Lippi stern…Arena angry..

49- Cannavaro returns..just as well because ball hit the stretcher moments after he vacated the bed of recuperation.Defender of the year in the
US.>>>. SUB: Conrad comes on for the impressive Convey.

52- Pirlo free kick headed against the bar by Bocanegra..should have been a corner…Toni offside 3 times in 3 minutes.. 

54- SUB Zaccardo gives way to Del Piero ITA


 Cannavaro Nesta Zambrotta

Gattuso Pirlo Perrotta Del Piero

Toni Gilardino 

3-3-1-2 for Italy

58- Reyna finds space in midfield, has a go from range..drags it well wide of the post…Lovely build up play, that begin with cheeky skill from Zambrotta, ends with poor shot from Perrotta. 

61 SUB ITA Iaquinta is coming on for Toni…

62 Sub US Dempsey off for Clit Beasley…

63- Donovan tears forward, lays ball off to McBride who shoots badly with his left…Linesman has called two very bad off sides for
Italy, both which would have led to a goal…

65- Beasley finishes with style, beating Buffon who did badly with the shot letting it through his arms..the ball flies into the side of the goal….Offside position for McBride, who did try flick the ball as it went by, he was interfering with play..good decision by the chaotic linesman….A rare bout of Fortune for

66- Perrotta got kneed in the back by McBride, nasty tackle, off on a stretcher. he looks pretty fucked…9 against 9!Ice pack on Perrotta's back…no more subs for
Crippled Perrotta forced to come back onto the field. brave man…

68- Zambrotta cuts in from left, shoots on his right boot from 20 yards, inches wide of the post…..

70- YELLOW for Zambrotta for pushing down Donovan….bad decision by the linesman..the sly looking Italian hardly touched him…FK>Donovan,,,..>wide right..25 yards out, won by Bocanegra, but comes to nothing..

73- Pirlo chips over defence for
del Piero to hook the ball towards goal..great save by Keller. Was a delicate shot by DP, and headed for the top corner.
fleet footed Donovan causing problems down the right wing…

75- good chop by Del Piero…he is lucky not to get booked…Patient probing by
Italy comes to nothing…

77- wasteful long range effort from Gennaro…high and miles wide…worthless…
Italy have 14 mins to prove their class…

79- McBride has chance at far past but defender persuades him to head it wide….

79- Del Piero finds space 25 yards out ,curls one…Saved well be Keller..quality strike but too central…

80- De Beasley gets through the Italian midfield but then is halted abruptly by the dependable bulk of Mr Cannavaro…United States are doing more than holding on….Yankees keeping the ball well, waiting for an opening….

86- Corner for Italy…Del Pieo..dealt with..

87- it just wont go in for Italy….del Piero close, then Gattuso….3 corners for

90- Gilardino puts last chance for Italy wide,, weak header….he has been useless apart from the goal.


Superb result for the US who could have won this and a truly despicable result for the Italians who could well have lost this game despite playing the whole of the second half with an extra man……12 hours later–àOn reflection I should add that Italy were playing with 9 men from the 66th minute onwards, because Perrotta’s injury was so severe that although he valiantly hobbled back onto the pitch, he was blatantly unable to play any meaningful role in the action that followed…Certainly a point to remember, because a 9 v 9 is very different to a 10 v 9 situation. Still Italy should have done better but I suggest that the hysteria that affected both the pitiful Zaccardo and irritable De Rossi, caused shock throughout the Italian ranks and it was hard enough for Lippi and his charges to maintain the posture required for a draw let alone try to make sense of what had transpired and move on towards a victory that had looked so certain after Gilardino’s opener….. 


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