Day six of the 2010 FIFA World Cup introduced the final four squads yet to play in this summer’s tournament: Honduras, Chile, Switzerland, and favourites Spain.
And at the same time, it started the second time through the groups, with hosts South Africa battling Uruguay.
Honduras 0-1 Chile
Goal: Beausejour 34'
Group H began its action with Mbombela Stadium hosting this South American-Central American clash between Chile and Honduras.
In the third minute, Matias Fernandez almost opened the scoring up immediately for Chile when his dipping free kick just went over the crossbar and landed on the top of the goal, fooling many supporters at the sight of a moving net.
The fast, open attacking style of play to start this match off brought life to the crowd. Chile seemed the more aggressive nation, passing the ball around the pitch with confidence and ease, while penetrating the Honduras penalty area.
Chile eventually broke through in the 34th minute, when Fernandez unleashed right-back Mauricio Isla on the right wing into the area, who then slotted a dangerous ball in front of goal. Honduras defender Sergio Mendoza‘s clearing attempt hit off the stretching Jean Beausejour of Chile and into the back of the net to give Chile the 1-0 lead.
Some may label this goal rather fortunate, but it was a goal that Chile definitely deserved with their match dominance and proper hustling and positioning on the opportunity.
In the 44th minute, Chile continued to attack and pressure the Honduras area and should have been awarded a penalty, when some nifty passing put winger Alexis Sanchez into the area. His left-footed blast never reached the target because of a handball by defender Maynor Figueroa.
Deliberately or not, his arm was far enough from the body to stop the dangerous attempt that was likely to really challenge the keeper, and Chile was unlucky on this no-call.
Chile put up a vivacious attacking display in the first half that surely entertained the masses. The goal may have not gone in clean, but it was still well deserved.
In the 62nd minute, Chile almost doubled their lead when Jorge Valdivia produced a slick ball to a streaking Sanchez down the middle of the defence. He set his shot up nicely while dribbling into the area only to drag his shot wide of the far post.
Chile were at it again just minutes later when Fernandez sent a dangerous free kick into the area, which was flicked by the head of a defender en route to Arturo Vidal at the back post. He headed back across the goalmouth for Waldo Ponce, whose diving headed attempt from close range was robbed by a sprawling Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Valladares made a terrific save, keeping his Honduran squad in the match, but nothing came of this lifeline as Chile held Honduras scoreless en route to the victory.
At the final whistle, it was Chile claiming the full three points with about as dominating of a 1-0 victory as a squad can produce.
Honduras will be disappointed by the start of their tournament, although despite only losing 1-0 to a legitimate Chile side, they were utterly dominated. On the positive side of things, they did show some brief potential in the counterattack, but everything else was negative.
One has to feel bad for Honduras as their next match is against an angry Spain side that will be looking for redemption.
Honduras won't stand a chance.
Chile will be happy with the result grabbing three points and a share of the lead atop the group. They will be confident in themselves, as they were able to grab control of the match and produce multiple dangerous scoring chances through their speedy wing styled attack.
Next up for Chile is Switzerland in a vital match that may decide which nation advances to the second round. It will be interesting to see these two nations and their very contrasting styles go head-to-head with their survival at stake.
Men of the Match
Honduras: Wilson Palacios
Chile: Alexis Sanchez
Spain 0-1 Switzerland
Goal: Fernandes 52'
The final two nations to get into action at the 2010 FIFA World Cup were Spain and Switzerland. These two European squads kicked off their tournaments at Durban Stadium.
Once underway, Spain immediately grabbed hold of possession as expected and did their best to maintain the bulk of it from that point on.
Spain remained patient in ownership of the ball against an organized Switzerland defence, and finally made use of it by creating a direct scoring chance in the 24th minute.
Andres Iniesta slipped a precise ball, dissecting the defence, to Gerard Pique, who swiftly faked out his defender in the area, only to be denied by a charging sliding Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
Great pass, great move, and a great save.
Spain continued their overwhelming advantage in custody of the ball, but Switzerland excelled in cluttering the box up and preventing any major threats upon their goal. It remained scoreless at the half, despite Spain’s overwhelming statistical advantage.
Spain came out in the second half with a burst, immediately threatening the Swiss penalty area with regularity. Nothing came of it, as Spain began to look slightly frustrated because of the lack of great chances coming from their time in the Swiss area.
And then out of nowhere, Switzerland announced themselves into the match and the 2010 tournament as a whole.
A launched goal kick made its way 60 yards down the pitch and bounced further off a Spanish head where Swiss forward Blaise N’Kufo sloppily pushed it into the path of striker Eren Derdiyok.
Derdiyok ran into the penalty area and tried to poke by the charging Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whose deflection hit off defender Pique and bounced the ball back towards the net, where Derdiyok was still helicoptering to the ground, catching Pique near the eye with a boot, sending him to the ground.
It set the table for Swiss midfielder Nelson Fernandes, whose first attempt was blocked by a falling Pique’s arm, but his follow-up was slotted home into the empty net off the scramble.
This chaotic goal shocked the world and also rattled the Spanish defence. It was as ugly as they come, but it still counted and Switzerland wouldn’t return it for the world.
Once trailing, Spain developed an urgency to push forward in search of an equalizer.
In the 63rd minute, they almost found one when Andres Iniesta nearly opened up Spain’s account. A Swiss defender poked the ball away from teammate David Villa directly toward him at the top of the area, only for Iniesta to send a bending side-footed effort just wide of the target.
In the 68th minute, Spain continued to be a threat when David Villa neatly sent in to Fernando Torres, who was all but bumped off possession. He regained his footing to send his effort just high and wide of the target.
In the 70th minute, Spain came agonizingly close to scoring again when Xavi’s corner delivery was a perfectly paced ball to the arch atop the Swiss area, to an on-running Xabi Alonso, who preceded to blast a one-timed effort off the crossbar.
Alonso hit the ball perfectly and was just inches away from having an early candidate for goal of the tournament, and more importantly, the opening goal of Spain’s World Cup.
Spain continued to push in the 72nd minute, when Xavi spread to the substitute Jesus Navas. He beat his defender Reto Ziegler to enter the area and push a weak effort on net that was easily dealt with by Benaglio.
In the 74th minute, Switzerland almost caught Spain on their back foot yet again when Derdiyok worked a slick one-two with N’Kufo and sped into the area. He faked out Pique and Puyol to set himself up for a slick outside-of-the-boot shot that beat Casillas but hit the post as Spain desperately cleared the danger.
It was a brilliant piece of skill by Derdiyok.
The news didn’t get any better for Spain in the 77th minute when playmaker Iniesta was forced off the pitch after receiving a knock.
In the 79th minute, Navas had another opportunity in which he lashed an outside of the boot effort just inches wide of the target, just beyond 20 yards. It was another excruciatingly close chance that still left Spain without a goal.
That is when it became apparent that it just wasn’t in the cards for Spain on the night.
The final whistle blew, awarding Switzerland with what very may be the biggest upset we will see at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and a 1-0 victory.
Spain will be stunned to come away from their World Cup opener without a point or even a goal. They will not get too negative on themselves though, as they did dominate the match against a very defensively organized nation that has been a recent tough nut to crack.
They will have the chance to recover quickly as a poor Honduras side awaits them next. That is sure to be exactly what the doctor ordered for a Spanish side that is likely to net four and end what many will prematurely label a slump.
Switzerland will be ecstatic about their victory over the favoured Spanish side.
They have once again proven that they have the ability to shut down any attack in the world, as they continue their clean-sheet streak that extends from the 2006 World Cup where they were eliminated without ever conceding a goal.
Switzerland also put to display a formidable counterattack that is more than capable of scoring, even with the absence of the experienced Frei.
Men of the Match
Spain: Andres Iniesta
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio
South Africa 0-3 Uruguay
Goals: Forlan 24' and 80', Pereira 90'+5
Pretoria, South Africa, was the site for the hosts second match against South American side Uruguay. Both sides lined up in more aggressive lineups, knowing that a result was crucial in order to take control of the advancing opportunity in the tight Group A race.
It was evident once the match began that after recognizing their opponents, Uruguay took on a much more aggressive game plan into this match.
The Uruguayans did not feel the need to sit back and defend as they did against the French. This positive attitude produced a much better and more threatening Uruguayan performance that looked to clearly overmatch the South Africans.
Uruguay started the scoring in the 24th minute, when Diego Forlan gave it a go from 25 yards out. His shot took a slight deflection off a South African defender, helping it to dip just under the crossbar and give Uruguay the 1-0 lead.
Uruguay had the lead and the better half of football when the break came around and with the scoreboard reading 1-0 in favor of Uruguay.
South Africa continued to struggle against clearly a more talented Uruguay squad in the second half. They seemed to always be a step behind and struggled to create any form of possession or creativity to worry Uruguay.
Bafana Bafana needed a big moment to lift them and their supporters like in the Mexico match, but quite the opposite happened, when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez ran onto a deflected shot deep in the South Africa area, and was all alone on the keeper. He touched by Itumeleng Khune and had his foot kicked out by the goalie, resulting in not only a penalty, but a red card for the South African keeper.
The spot kick and expulsion decisions were quite obvious as the referee wasn’t really given any other option, as Khune clearly took away a direct scoring opportunity.
Diego Forlan stepped to the spot after the substitution delay and calmly roofed the penalty and gave Uruguay the 2-0 lead.
South Africa was clearly devastated by the deficit and basically threw in the towel on the match, as even their supporters started to head for the exits after the lead was doubled.
Uruguay didn’t stop there.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Forlan was once again involved by switching the field nicely to the foot of Suarez, who calmly side-footed a pass back across the area to the back post where Alvaro Pereira easily headed off his own leg and into the net.
It was the dagger that gave Uruguay the 3-0 victory over the crushed hosts.
South Africa played like their ranking in tonight’s match. They didn’t have the emotion and fight that they played with in their opener, and it cost them dearly.
They mustn’t give up hope though, but the way they quit late in the match might cost them in the crucial goal differential tiebreaker, if it comes to that. It was sad to see such a performance from the host nation.
Uruguay, on the other hand, showed what they are capable of as a side when they open it up a bit. The attack was dangerous and it was mostly through the skilled and talented Diego Forlan. The midfield frustrated their opponents in the middle of the pitch, and the defence barely let their goalie become vulnerable to an attack.
Uruguay will now watch the France-Mexico match closely tomorrow and determine what type of result it will take to advance to the second round.
Men of the Match
South Africa: Reneilwe Letsholonyane
Uruguay: Diego Forlan
Goal of the Day
Diego Forlan’s opening goal in the first half against hosts South Africa. His dipping shot may have had some help from a slight deflection, but it was still a classy strike.
Match of the Day
Save of the Day
Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares' diving stop of a close-ranged header off the line.
Mistake of the Day
The referee’s failure to award a penalty and a free kick to Chile on sloppy plays by defender Maynor Figueroa of Honduras, in the first half of play.
Day six of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was filled with surprises.
The best attack of the day was produced by Chile, while Spain was shut out and defeated by the strong powerful Switzerland defence.
The host nation South African squad was a no-show in a 3-0 loss to Uruguay and has now lost control of their own fate and chances of advancing.
Uruguay 4 (two matches played)
Mexico 1 (one match played)
France 1 (one match played)
South Africa 1 (two matches played)