2010 World Cup Qualifying: The Weekend Roundup
Unless you're living under a rock (or you, like the rest of America were too busy watching Tebow and co. take down LSU), you may know that this weekend was host to numerous important World Cup Qualifying fixtures, and the results we're far from disappointing.
Three 90th minute shockers, eight newly qualified sides, a badly timed injury for one of the worlds' best, and a penguin slide from one of soccer's most entertaining legends were just some of the events that made this set of matches one for the ages.
In the CONCACAF qualifiers, top scorer Landon Donovan and an eager to clinch US squad met with the Honduran side in dyer need of a victory. USA showed its resilience after coming back from a 1-0 Honduras lead to win the match 3-2, ensuring their spot in the 2010 World Cup. Mexico also secured its spot in the Cup, easily cruising past El Salvador 4-1.
USA will face Costa Rica on Wednesday, while Honduras will take on El Salvador.
A win for Costa Rica will secure them a ticket to South Africa, along with an El Salvador tie or victory over Honduras. Honduras needs to win and for US to win to be guaranteed a spot, but whichever team finishes behind the other will have a chance to qualify in a playoff against the fifth place CONMEBOL (South American) finisher in November.
In other highlights, Diego Maradona's Argentinian squad came a bit closer than they would have liked to a devastating tie at home against Peru. Argentinian veteran Martin Palermo broke the tie two minutes into stoppage time, just three minutes after Peru's Hernan Rengifo had tied the match at 1-1.
A tie would have ended Argentina's World Cup hopes, and most likely Diego Maradona's run as head coach. After Palermo's late-game heroics, Maradona showed his relief with a dramatic penguin slide on the wet grass of Argentina's River Plate Stadium.
Argentina takes on Uruguay this Wednesday in an exciting win or go home matchup for each team.
In the highly competitive UEFA Confederation which is still far from resolved, Portugal pulled out a much needed win over Hungary, but lost superstar Christiano Ronaldo in the process. Ronaldo will be out for up to 3-4 weeks, and will miss Portugal's must-win match against a struggling Malta side on Wednesday.
Ireland came away with a disappointing tie against the Italians after Italy striker Alberto Gilardino put away a dagger in stoppage time to tie the game at 2-2. With a win, Ireland would have opened the race for automatic qualification back up, but the Irish will have to settle for a chance to fight for a spot in the upcoming UEFA playoffs.
The German's proved yet again that they're a serious contender when they held on to a 1-0 lead even after defender Jerome Boateng was sent off in the 69th minute against a talented Russia team, leaving them with only 10 men to protect the lead. Klose was responsible for the lone goal that secured Germany its World Cup berth.
Denmark, Ivory Coast, Serbia, and Chile also qualified after their Saturday matchups along with the USA, Mexico, Italy, and Germany. They join 11 other teams to make up the first of 19 teams that will be a part of the 2010 World Cup.
With only 13 spots left and many favorites still in the mix, the months leading up to the June 11th start date in South Africa are sure to be interesting, to say the least.
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