In 24 hours, three Latin American teams have played three matches, won three, scored nine goals, suffered one, against three teams from different continents. We are not speaking about Burkina Faso, Greenland or Solomon Islands, rather host nation South Africa, ex-world champion and finalist in 2006 France and the respectable Republic of Korea.
With Paraguay having played 90 minutes of football on an equal footing with world champion Italy, and Brazil…no comment needed, we may conclude that Latin American football is riding the crest of a wave.
After two games, Mexico and Uruguay will pass on to the last 16 if they draw together, whatever the result between South Africa and France. In fact, given the positive goal difference of Uruguay and Mexico (plus 3 and plus 2) and the negative goal difference of France and South Africa (minus 2 and minus 3), the chances are that the two Latin American teams have already passed on to the next round, whatever the result, unless there is a substantial goal difference in both matches.
Group A (After 2 games)
Uruguay 1 1 0 3 0 4
Mexico 1 1 0 2 0 4
South Africa 0 1 1 1 4 1
France 0 1 1 0 2 1
South Africa 1 Mexico 1
France 0 Uruguay 0
South Africa 0 Uruguay 3
France 0 Mexico 2
In Group B, logic would dictate that Argentina (6 points) will beat Greece and that the Republic of Korea will beat Nigeria, passing to meet Uruguay and Mexico, or Mexico and Uruguay. But what if Greece beats Argentina (reaching 6 points) and Korea and Nigeria draw? Or if Greece draws and Nigeria wins? Or if Greece scores 4 against Argentina and Korea beats Nigeria by two goals?
Group B (After 2 games)
Argentina 2 0 0 5 1 6
Rep. Korea 1 0 1 3 4 3
Greece 1 0 1 2 3 3
Nigeria 0 0 2 1 3 0
Rep. Korea 2 Greece 0
Argentina 1 Nigeria 0
Argentina 4 Rep. Korea 1
Greece 2 Nigeria 1
Argentina 4 Republic of Korea (South) 1
Johannesburg JSC Thursday June 1713.30 SA Time
If there were any doubts about Diego Maradona’s Argentina, they have been dispelled by an electric performance which was a one-way roller-coaster of a game sweeping all before the unstoppable machine led by Mascherano.
On 17’, a corner by Messi was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Chungyong. 1-0. Messi was behind the second on 33’, passing to M. Rodriquez, who found Burdisso and Higuain headed the ball into the back of the net. 2-0.
Sungryong saved from Di Maria on 40’, again on 41’. Chungyong wrapped up the first half, scoring for his own team this time, on 45+1’, taking the ball off Demichelis in the area and shooting home.
Argentina came out after the break even more devastating.Sungryong saved from Higuain on 52’, from Tevez on 54’, Messi on 65’. Messi again on 76’. Secoinds later, Messi hit the post and in the same minute, passed the ball to Higuain who tapped in his second and Argentina’s third. 3-0.
The Argentinean forward’s hat-trick came four minutes later, again finishing a move started by Messi, who passed to Kun Agueiro, who in turn found Higuain, predictably ifa Man of the Match.
Rep. of Korea: Sungryong, Beomseok, Yonghyung, Jisung, Jungwoo, Chuyoung, Youngpyo, Jungsoo, Sungyeung (Namil), Chungyong (Donggook), Kihun,
Argentina: Romero, Demichelis, Heinze, Di Maria, Higuain (Bolatti), Messi, Tevez (Kun Aguero), Samuel (Burdisso), Mascherano, Jonas, M. Rodriguez
Greece 2 Nigeria 1
Mangaung/Bloemfontein 16.00 SA Time Thursday June 17
Nigeria began the game pressing Greece back and after 16’ the pressure paid off – Kalu Uche scoring the first goal of the match from a direct free kick, delivered with such strength that Tzorvas did not even move.
Greece started to grow after Nigeria’s Sani Kaita was sent off for kicking an opponent on 33’. After 41’, Salpingidis saw his shot saved by Enyeama; on 43’ Samaras saw his shot cleared off the goal-line. 44’, 1-1. Salpingidis’ shot was deflected into goal.
The 2-1 came in the middle of the second half, on 72’, when Enyeama failed to grab Tziolis’ shot after a corner and Torosidis tapped it in, for Greece’s first ever win at a World Cup Final competition.
Greece: Tzorvas, Tziolis, Papadopoulos, Karagounis, Vyntra, Salpingidis Torosidis, Kyrgiakos, Gekas (Ninis), Sokratis (Samaras), Katsouranis
Nigeria: Enyeama, Yobo, Taiwo (Echiejile, Afolabi), Shittu, Yakubu, Odemwingie (Obasi), Uche, Kaita, Haruna, Odiah, Etuhu
France 0 Mexico 2
France Mexico Pretoria/Tshwane 20.30 SA Time Thursday June 17
The first half belonged to Mexico. Carlos Vela (8’), Carlos Salcido (18’, 27’) had half chances. However it was Malouda’s strike after the break, saved by Oscar Perez, which provided the best chance of the match, prompting Javier Aguirre to reshuffle his team, sending on Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco for Juarez and Franco.
The super subs scored the two goals. Javier Hernandez (FIFA man of the match) received a perfectly timed pass from Marquez on 64’, beating the offside trap, danced round the prostrate lloris and scored Mexico’s first, on the way to the country’s first-ever victory over France.
On 79’, 2-0. Abidal gave away a childish penalty against Barrera (also a sub) and Blanco scored the perfect penalty, hitting the ball hard and low into the left-hand side of the goal, just outside the reach of the diving French keeper.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Abidal, Gallas, Ribery, Govou (Valbuena), Evra, Toulalan, Malouda, Diaby, Anelka (Gignac)
Mexico: O. Perez, F. Rodriguez, C. Salcido, R. Marquez, R. Osorio, G. Torrado, G. Franco (Blanco), C. Vela (Barrera), H. Moreno, E. Juarez (Hernandez), G. dos Santos