FIFA World Cup 2010: Round of 16 Day 1 Recap

Eugene FogartyContributor IJune 27, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 26:  Landon Donovan of the United States scores from the penalty spot during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Uruguay Role Back the Years


     South Korea   1-2   Uruguay          Port Elizabeth




South Korea threw everything they had at Uruguay in the second half of the last 16 clash but in the end the Red Devils fell to a wonder goal from Ajax captain Luis Suarez.


La Celeste will now move on to face the last remaining African team for a place in the World Cup semi finals next Friday, in what is their first quarter final in 40 years.


The two time champions started the game the brighter. Diego Forlan was prominent in everything his team did in the opening minutes but once his team scored after eight minutes he reverted into his shell. 


The Atletico Madrid goal machine whipped in a teasing but easily manageable cross that Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong decided to let role past him. As the hole South Korean defensive line decided to stop playing Luis Suarez was popping up at the back post to stroke the Jabulani into an empty net. 


Considering Uruguay's form in the group stages one would be forgiven for thinking the game was already over. With three games played the South Americans had conceded no goals even though they gave up the majority of possession, but this is a spirited and talented South Korean team who were creating history for Asian football by reaching the last 16 outside their own country. 


The Koreans came out to play once they fell behind. The Uruguayans left their attacking trio of Suarez, Forlan and Cavani alone in the Korean half as the remainder of the team retreated into their own. Led by captain Diego Lugano the celeste rearguard had forced the Red Devils into only shooting from distance. The South Koreans had raised their game however, playing at pace and passing the ball quickly while throwing bodies forward whenever they counterattacked. 


Once the second half came along the South Koreans had their opponents on the ropes. An equalizer seemed inevitable as the Uruguayan defence began to creak for the first time in over three and a half games. 


Eventually the Asians get their just reward for all their rain soaked pressure. A free kick is swung into the area from the left. It's headed up into the air by Victorino. The goalkeeper Muslera comes out to claim but gets nowhere near. Lee Chung-young gets his head to it, and guides it into the empty net. Uruguay concede a goal at last - and what a terrible one it is too.


With 20 minutes left the game completely opened up as both sides smelled blood. With the rain lashing down the game turned into a dog fight, especially with the pitch being torn to pieces. Despite the damage to the surface, it didn't stop Suarez winning the game for his country. 


Following a corner from the far side of the pitch, the Ajax man retrieved the over hit corner at the edge of the box to the left of the goal frame. One touch took him away from two defenders and gave him all the space that was required to bend a beautiful strike around the keeper and inside the far post. 


The magnitude of the perfect finish showed the importance of the goal. Suarez jumped over photographers to embrace the substitutes, injuring one in the process, but the smile could not be wiped from his face. It was a goal worthy of winning any game. 


South Korean fought valiantly until the final minute and they can take heart from not only a positive performance but a successful tournament. Their up and down group stage showings culminated in a daring display in Port Elizabeth. They left everything they had out on the field.


All five South American teams still remain as Uruguay live to fight another day. Ultimately it was their talent up front that was the difference as Suarez jumps to the top of the scoring charts with a host of others on three.


Montevideo was sent into rapturous celebrations as Uruguayans now firmly believe in their ability to win a third mundial and a first in 60 years.  


Black Stars oust Stars and Stripes

Ghana   2-1   USA   (aet)    Rustenburg




Ghana had already been the last African nation represented in the tournament and their stay is set to last for at least six more days having become only the third African side to ever reach a World Cup quarter final.


Where Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) have previously fallen the Black Stars will be confident of going that extra step, especially if they can play with the unpredictability they showed against the US in Rustenburg.   


In their three previous outings, the Ghanaians scored just twice and both came via the penalty spot. As impressive as their attacking pace and options has been they haven't looked like converting it into goals, but they did in Rustenburg on Saturday night.


With only five minutes played Kevin Prince Boateng made the most of a stray ball in midfield. One touch to his left took him away from the American defenders and gave him the space to hit a low drive past Tim Howard from the edge of the box.


Much more was expected from the States here. While they were delighted to score the goal that got them to the second round this should have been the least of the pre tournament expectations. A quarter final was surely the minimum ambition of Bob Bradley's team and they have failed in that mission. When faced with the prospect of an erratic Ghana team rather than Germany, USA should have been able to take advantage of that blessing.


For the remainder of the half the African team were the better team. They used possession wisely and forged some opportunities. The American defence were nervous and always under threat when the Ghanaians had the ball. Saying that, the Americans were unlucky not to win the game in 90 minutes.


The Stars and Stripes dominated the second half. The entire team never stopped running and scoring chances came thick and fast until Landon Donovan finally created a penalty for his team single handedly. He seemed to say a prayer as he kneeled on the turf before slotting it in off the post while sending Richard Kingson the wrong way. The perfect penalty.


Beeny Feilhaber and Robbie Findley had further opportunity to win the game for the States, in a half where Ghana offered nothing going forward and the US dominated possession. Unfortunately for the Americans they lacked a striker capable of taking an accurate shot. Any chance they forged was aimed straight at Kingson.


With extra time still to come USA should were confident of completing the turnaround. They had passed the ball smoothly and been patient as they pursued an equaliser. They knew that chances would come if they held their nerve. 


In practically a repeat of the opening goal the American defence let a Ghanaian get away from them to score at the near post. Only a couple of minutes into the first half of extra time Asamoah Gyan moved joint top of the race for the Golden Boot following his stunning half volley that rendered Howard helpless. 


For the remainder of the match the Black Stars wasted time where applicable but also were confident in possession. As the game reached the closing stages they weren't so confident in defence however as they were bombarded with corners and long balls but in the end South Africa could celebrate the success of the continents last remaining son. 


For this team to overcome Uruguay a method to their madness will need to come about. Players like Asamoah, Gyan and Ayew, who is suspended, are certainly fine talents but their appears to be no strategy to their teams play in the final third of the pitch. Everything is off the cuff and instinctive which is wonderful to see if it comes off but for the majority of this tournament so far, it has not. 


USA will be wondering how they let this game slip away. Their second half showing alone should have won them the match but now their can be no complaints. The Ghanaians brought as much to the encounter as their opposition, in particular two stunning goals.