Tuesday - Sep 26, 2017

World Cup Round Up- Sunday – Cristiano Ronaldo saves Portugal’s World Cup with just a second to go

World Cup Round Up- Sunday – Cristiano Ronaldo saves Portugal’s World Cup with just a second to go

Yesterday saw the 2014 FIFA World Cup finish the second cycle of the group stage matches, with almost immediate onset been averted with the last kick, or make that header, of the match.

In the first game of the evening, Belgium, rated by many as being the dark horses of the tournament, made their way into the knockout stages thanks to the late winner from Divock Origi who came on as a substitute.

Russia, and their manager the richly experienced Fabio Capello only now have one point to show for all their efforts, and face the genuine possibility of failing to make it past the group stages, and will have to get a win against a rampant Algerian side to go through, or hope that South Korea will defeat Belgium.

Yesterday’s game was devoid of action, with Russian striker Alexander Kokorin blowing the best chance of a lifeless opening half, heading wide when it looked easier to score. The match appeared to be fizzling out to a goal less stalemate, until Origi turned in an Eden Hazard cross to book Marc Wilmots’ team a place in the knock-out stages.

Origi, the young Lille forward has now come on as substitute in both of Belgium’s matches, replacing Romelu Lukaku who is yet to impress in the World Cup, with a strong chance that the Belgian manager may give him a chance in the starting lineup against South Korea, or may want to continue with a successful run which has seen all three of Belgium’s goals in the competition so far having been scored by substitutes.

In one of the highest scoring games in the competition so far, yet another African surprise package, Algeria found themselves in 2nd place to second in World Cup Group overcoming a hard-working South Korean side 4-2 in Porto Alegre.

The Algerians showed that they meant business from the kick-off and it was little surprise when Islam Slimani ran onto a long ball to score their first in the 26th min with Rafick Halliche doubling their lead with a fine header just two minutes later. It looked very much one-way traffic when Abdelmoumene Djabou scored a third goal for the Algerians in the 38th minute, with a well placed shot.

As the second half got underway the South Koreans mounted something of a rally and pulled a goal back when Son Heung-min scored from a speculative drive which the Algerian keeper M’Bolhi might have done better with.

However South Korea’s comeback hopes were given a major dent when Yacine Brahimi added Algeria’s fourth in the 62nd minute and, although Koo Ja-cheol reduced the deficit once again 10 min later, Algeria held on for their first World Cup win since 1982. As well as becoming the first African team to score four goals in any World Cup tournament match, more than they have scored in their previous seven World Cup matches put together.

The last match of the day with a starting Portuguese side facing the United States in a Group G clash with the USA produced more drama and excitement than the two matches which preceded it.

Portugal, who had undergone 4-0 thrashing from the Germans in the first match in the group, should a lot of early promise and even took the lead in the fifth minute with a confident strike from Nani. However, with Christiano Ronaldo giving the impression that he would rather be anywhere else than playing soccer in the rain forests of the Amazon, the Portuguese began to lose impetus.

The Americans were almost punished before half-time for pushing too far forward when Nani struck the post from outside the area with a powerful shot, although elder should have scored with the rebound, although goalkeeper Tim Howard made a splendid reflex save to keep his team in the game.

In the second half, the Portugues side were getting pushed farther and farther back and the Americans got their deserved equalizer when Jermain Jones side-stepped an inept Portuguese tackle in the 64th minute before releasing a swerving drive from well outside the penalty area and into the corner of the net.

At that stage it looked like both teams would settle for a draw in the extreme heat and humid conditions of the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

However, with less than 10 minutes on the clock, USA captain Clint Dempsey found himself in the right place at the right time to guide the ball into the back of the net from close range. Dempsey’s goal looked like they were going to be the match winner, until in the very last minute of injury time, Ronaldo popped up on the right wing to send an accurate cross to the head of substitute Varela, who gratefully dived power the ball behind a helpless Howard to give the Portuguese a sliver of hope of remaining in the competition.

In order to progress to the next stage the Portuguese will have to hope that the USA defeats Germany or vice versa, and that they can defeat Ghana by more than six goals. Judging by their current form, a tall order indeed.

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