Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: World Cup 2010 Qualifying on September 10

R LSenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2008

The second day of World Cup 2010 qualifying matches was better than the first. More exciting games, great performances, and shocking victories. Once again, thumbs up will be given to players and team that impressed, while thumbs down will go to those that didn't.

Again, I won't go over all of the games—for instance, Spain defeating Armenia 4-0 wasn't a shock.


Thumbs Up

Denmark—After a lackluster performance against Hungary five days ago, the Danes made their (Den)mark. An 85th minute penalty shot by Deco gave Portugal a 2-1 lead. Nine times out of 10, the game would be finished after such a late score. However, Christian Poulsen struck in the 89th minute, followed by a winner from Daniel Jensen a minute later to silence the Portuguese faithful with a stunning comeback.

Luxembourg—Alphonse Leweck struck a dramatic game winner late as Luxembourg came through with a huge win in Switzerland. Luxembourg—who failed to register a point in World Cup 2006 qualifying, made Alexander Frei's return to the lineup a nightmare indeed.

Lukasz Fabianski—The Arsenal goalkeeper saved a penalty in the third minute against San Marino. Had Poland conceded that goal, I'd hate to think how the match could have finished. Fabianski is certainly doing his part replacing the suspended Artuc Boruc.

Milivoje Novakovic—The Slovenian struck twice for his country, earning them a 2-1 win over Slovakia. Slovenia sits atop their group with Poland, at four points.

Miroslav Klose—There have been talks about Klose's struggle with Bayern Munich lately. Still, the Pole continues to show his class with the Germans. The Finns had a lead on three separate occasions, only for Klose to tie the game each time.

Finland—A hat-trick from Miroslav Klose, but no win for Germany. Finland played a good game and were unlucky to not hold on to any of their leads. We'll see how they fair against the Russians—the other tough team in Group Four.

David Villa—Three goals in four days for the Valencia striker. After potting the lone goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina last week, Villa struck twice today for the Spaniards. His 20th and 21st goals internationally and a easy 4-0 win for Spain against the Armenians.

Zvjezdan Misimovic—Bosnia-Herzegovina put up a spiritual effort against Spain last week, losing only 1-0. Today, they picked up their first points in qualifying with a 7-0 victory over Estonia. Misimovic led the way with a natural hat-trick (three in a row).

Serhiy Nazarenko—Perhaps a new-found talent among Ukrainians. Nazarenko scored twice and Ukraine made it two wins out of two games. The tougher matches against Croatia and England are still to come, but this squad looks ready for a return to the big stage.

Theo Walcott—A trio from Theo. He silenced his critics for one night with a hat-trick against Croatia. England won 4-1, thus striking first blood against the team that eliminated them from Euro 2008. Fabio Capello has to be feeling good about himself right now.

Nicolas Anelka—Anelka was able to manoeuvre through the defense, before blasting a good low shot into the net. It turned out to be the winner as France hung on for a 2-1 win against Serbia. Head coach Raymond Domenech has his job for at least another day.

Lithuania—Two games into qualifying. Twice in the thumbs up section. Who would have thought it? Last week, the Lithuanians won a 3-0 shocker in Romania. I asked if Austria would be there next upset. Indeed, it was. Captain Tomas Danilevicius scored both goals, giving Lithuania a comfortable 2-0 win. Next up is Serbia. Do I smell three straight upsets?

Robert Lewandowski—The 20 year-old Lech Poznan striker scored a goal in his international debut for Poland. Yes, it was against San Marino. Considering we somehow only scored twice, it should serve well for the youngster.

Deco, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Belezoglu Emre, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Marc Pujol, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Goran Pandev—No nerves shown with these fellows. Each of them scored a penalty kick for their respective squads.


Thumbs Down

Portugal—From 2-1 up, to 3-2 down in a span of five minutes. Not the way you'd like to go down just two games into qualifying. That's why the game is 90 minutes long with a few extra minutes.

Switzerland—What seemed like a comfortable win on paper for the Swiss, turned into an embarrassment at home. Hakan Yakin has scored four of Switzerland's last five goals. How about a supporting cast?

Poland—Again my team is on the thumbs down side. They won, yes. But, it was against San Marino and by only two goals. In Euro 2008 qualifying, Germany defeated these guys 13-0. I was expecting at least five or six goals. Also, Poland was saved by their goalie yet again when Lukasz Fabianski stopped a spot kick early. Just another reason why I'm not impressed at all with my squad.

Milan Baros—It was only a few years ago when Baros won the Golden Boot at Euro 2004. Since then, we haven't seen the same guy at club or international level. He had a great chance to score, but headed the ball wide. The Czechs ended in a scoreless draw with Northern Ireland.

Croatia—Croatia were given a taste of the medicine they gave England a few months back, with a 4-1 defeat at home. They were already down 1-0 when Robert Kovac got a red card in the 53rd minute. It pretty much sealed the deal for the English.

Karim Benzema—Once again, another scoreless sheet with France. Unsurprisingly, he was taken off at half time for Nicolas Anelka. Anelka scored, which perhaps puts some pressure on Benzema to perform for his country.

Netherlands—With Ruud Van Nistelrooy internationally retired, Robin Van Persie will be depended upon to become the next great striker for the Dutch. The Oranje were able to squeak by Macedonia, 2-1.

Italy—Ireland, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Georgia. What kind of group is this? It can't get any easier for the Italians. Italy is simply here for having too easy of a group. Yet, they still should have lost to Cyprus last week.

Victor Golovatenco, Robert Kovac, Sorin Ghionea and Stephen McManus—all picked up red cards in their matches.

No own-goals this week, which is always good. I'm finished with thumbs up, thumbs down for the week. The action returns on October 11 and I will be back with my next edition.