Portugal through on penalties

Portugal through on penalties
Portugal advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup by beating England 3-1 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.Portugal are through to the last four of the World Cup after winning a penalty shootout against England in Gelsenkirchen.
Portugal march on to a semi-final date with either Brazil or France after defeating England 3-1 on penalties following a last eight clash that ended goalless in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday, 1 July.
Neither of these sides could find a way through during 120 minutes of entertaining and closely-contested action, with Portugal unable to translate into goals a numerical advantage they had held for almost an hour thanks to Wayne Rooney’s 62nd-minute dismissal.

The match therefore became the second 2006 FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final to be settled on penalty kicks and, just as Jens Lehmann was Germany’s hero yesterday, so Ricardo was Portugal’s today, saving from Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher to leave Cristiano Ronaldo to stroke home the decisive penalty.

Match Report:

After both teams had failed to score in 120 minutes of absorbing football, the match was eventually settled by penalties, and not for the first time England came up short in the ultimate test of nerve.

The result was somewhat harsh on Sven Goran Eriksson's men, who had fought bravely for the best part of an hour with only ten men following the second half dismissal of Wayne Rooney for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho.

For England Gary Neville came in at right-back, with Owen Hargreaves returning to the holding midfield role and Michael Carrick dropped to the bench. Frank Lampard started despite recent concern over an ankle injury.

Portugal were forced to bring in Tiago and Petit for the suspended forced Deco and Costinha, while Cristiano Ronaldo was passed fit to play.

The first chance of the game fell to Rooney in the second minute after a sloppy pass by Carvalho, but the England striker's effort was blocked. Rooney was again at the heart of the action when he brought a good save from Ricardo. The ball was switched to the other end and Cristiano Ronaldo, showing no ill effects from the injury he picked up in the second round game against Holland, drew a comfortable save from Robinson.

England had a scare moments later when they failed to clear a free-kick and Robinson had to be alert to deny the advancing Tiago.

In the opening twenty minutes England were looking the more dangerous team going forward, although Ronaldo was a constant threat on the break for Portugal.

As the half progressed Portugal gradually began to get a grip on possession and their patient passing game was beginning to cause problems for an England side that had reverted to hitting the ball long to the isolated Rooney. Lampard did manage to produce a long range shot on target, but as the half-time whistle sounded, it was Portugal who will have been the happier team.

England had a good shout for a penalty when Nuno Valente appeared to handle a David Beckham cross but the referee waved play on. It was Beckham's final act before he was replaced by Aaron Lennon after picking up a knock in the opening moments of the second half.

Lennon made an immediate impact dribbling past three defenders and setting up Joe Cole, but the midfielder scooped his shot over the bar from ten yards.

Rooney, who appeared to be frustrated by the limitations of role saw his role up front, saw his temper boil over when he came under pressure from Carvalho and reacted by stamping on the defender. The referee showed the striker the red card and England had to play the remainder of the game with ten men.

Rooney's dismissal forced Eriksson to remove Joe Cole and bring on Peter Crouch up front. Despite their numerical disadvantage England initially seemed comfortable containing Portugal. Scolari's withdrawal of Pauletta, their sole striker, appeared a strange decision, given that their attack now lacked a focal point.

Figo came close for Portugal with 15 minutes remaining but his chipped effort was tipped away by Robinson. The England keeper had to be alert to deny Viana shortly afterwards as Portugal were finally gaining the ascendancy.

At the other end Ricardo did well to deny a Lampard free-kick, as England launched a rare counter-attack. Lennon was first to the rebound but he scuffed his shot and the Portuguese keeper had no trouble gathering his shot. The ten-men held on until the end of full-time, and could even have nicked the game at the death when Terry's effort was deflected over the bar.

Inevitably Portugal dominated possession in extra-time, but they were mainly restricted to long range efforts. At the other end, England, on their occasional forays forward looked as likely to score with Crouch coming close from a Neville cross.

Portugal did have the ball in the back of the net when Postiga peeled off at the far post and planted a firm header past Robinson, but the linesman had flagged for offside.

England deserved to take the game to penalties given their magnificent rearguard battle with only ten men, but given their history of defeats at shootouts, then they must have approached the denouement with trepidation.

Simao scored Portugal's opening penalty, while Lampard's effort was saved by Ricardo. Viana then hit the post to give England a glimmer of hope, and when Hargreaves scored it was all square. Petit then struck his penalty wide but Gerrard was unable to give England the advantage, seeing his effort saved by the outstanding Ricardo. Postiga then stepped up to send Robinson the wrong way to give Portugal a 2-1 advantage which was maintained by another fine save from Ricardo from Carragher. That meant that Ronaldo could win the game if he scored and the winger made no mistake to send Portugal into the semi-finals.

Portugal are through to the last four where they will met Brazil or France, but on the evidence of this performance, they will have to raise their game significantly if they are to progress any further.

Match Analysis:

This was a heroic England performance, especially with ten men following the sending-off of Wayne Rooney in the 62nd minute. Despite this disadvantage Sven-Goran Eriksson's team continued to both defend and attack intelligently, creating more goal chances than their opponents.
Owen Hargreaves was the best player on the pitch the whole of the back four did extremely well. If you pick out one it would be Hargreaves, who encapsulated the England performance. His work rate was incredible with the number of balls he won in midfield and he still found the time to get forward.
It was a pity such a game had to be decided by penalties but once the game goes to penalties, it becomes a question of which team can handle their nerve and once again England were found lacking in a shoot-out. But over the 120 minutes they were the better team and Portugal can consider themselves quite fortunate to have survived this one.


England: Robinson, Neville, Ferdinand, Terry, A Cole, Beckham, Lampard, Hargreaves, Gerrard, J Cole, Rooney.

Subs used: Lennon 51 (for Beckham), Crouch 64 (for J Cole), Carragher 119 (for Lennon).

Bookings: Terry 30, Hargreaves 107, Sent-off: Rooney 63

Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Carvalho, Meira, Valente, Petit, Maniche, Tiago, Figo, Ronaldo, Pauleta.

Subs used: Simao 63 (for Pauletta), Viana 74 (for Tiago), Postiga 86 (for Figo)

Bookings: Petit 44, Carvalho 111

Referee: Horacio Elizondo (Argentina).


Portugal: Simao (Scored) Viana (Missed) Petit (Missed) Postiga (Scored) Ronaldo (Scored)

England: Lampard (Missed) Hargreaves (Scored) Gerrard (Missed) Carragher (Missed)

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Italy advances to World Cup semifinals

Italy advances to World Cup semifinals
Italy was only supposed to advance as far as its spectacular defense could take it. Add some opportunistic offense and the Azzurri are one game away from playing for the World Cup title.

Defender Gianluca Zambrotta scored an early goal, assisted on one and saved another, and Luca Toni added goals nine minutes apart Friday as Italy beat newcomer Ukraine 3-0 to set up a Tuesday semifinal match against host Germany.
The match was only in the sixth minute when Zambrotta ran down the right side, played a one-two with Francesco Totti and finished it off with a searing 20-yard left foot drive that was too much for goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkosvskyi to stop.
In the 58th, Zambrotta kicked a ball off his own goal line to quash Ukraine's last hope of an upset. A minute later, Toni sealed the victory with his first World Cup goal, and he added insurance in the 69th minute when he slid in Zambrotta's goalmouth pass.

"I wanted to score one. I managed two," Toni said. "It's a wonderful feeling."
Toni led the Italian league with 31 goals for Fiorentina last season, and Italy coach Marcello Lippi said, "We couldn't understand why he hadn't scored until now, so it's great news."
Zambrotta flew home early in the week to visit former Juventus teammate Gianluca Pessotto, who is fighting for his life after falling from a window at the Italian club team's headquarters in Turin.
"Tonight our strength came from Gianluca, who we hope is able to come back from what he's gone through," Zambrotta said.
After the match, Italy's players unfurled an Italian tricolor flag with the inscription "Pessotto we are with you."
"We're standing by Gianluca and his family and we want him to return and celebrate with us soon," Lippi said.
Zambrotta's goal, only his second in 56 games for Italy, put the Azzurri in the situation they have perfected over decades of World Cup success: defending a slender lead. Toni made sure there would be nothing to worry about this time. Led by Totti, the Azzurri sparkled with little backheels and clean, crisp passing combinations that Ukraine could never match. After seven seasons in Italy's Serie A, Ukraine's lone star, Andriy Shevchenko, no longer held any secrets for Italy's expert defense and could not give his president, Victor Yushchenko, any reason to cheer in the stands. Afterward, the Chelsea-bound player went up to the Italian fans, applauded them and bowed in respect.
In the end, Ukraine - the surprise team to make the quarterfinals in its maiden World Cup run - was finally exposed as a team which had too little to offer beyond a robust defense.
"I am disappointed that we are out, but this World Cup has been a great achievement for us," Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin said. "The class of the Italian team was just greater. They have better players."
And even when the Italian defense made a rare fumble, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon slapped a header from Andriy Gusin onto the post in the 49th minute. World Cups are not only won on talent, though, and Italy was lucky when a header from Gusin crashed onto the bar in the 62nd.
Qualification for the semifinals offered a welcome reprieve for Italy, which has been embroiled in a sensational match-fixing scandal at home. Pessotto - appointed Juventus team manager after much of its front office resigned - was in a drug-induced coma Friday when Zambrotta scored.
In the stands was a banner which read "Italy Again 1982." That year was also marked by a match-fixing scandal, but Italy nevertheless went on to win its third World Cup.
Totti regained his place on Italy's starting lineup for the quarterfinals against Ukraine, which fielded Artem Milevskiy in place of injured striker Andriy Voronin.
Italy went with a likely 4-4-1-1 lineup, with Totti behind Toni as the lone striker and Alberto Gilardino on the bench. Andrea Barzagli started his first World Cup game in defense, filling in for injured Alessandro Nesta and suspended Marco Materazzi.
Totti came on as a substitute late in the second-round game against Australia and scored the only goal in the final minute of the match. Coach Marcello Lippi had sidelined him because he looked fatigued in the last first-round match against the Czech Republic.
On Friday, he provided two assists.

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Germany through after shootout win

Germany through after shootout win
Hosts Germany are through to the semi-finals of the World Cup after a penalty shootout victory over Argentina.
Germany advance to the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-finals after triumphing 4-2 over Argentina in a penalty shoot-out following a tight, tense match in Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Friday, 30 July 2006 that had ended locked at 1-1.
It proved impossible to separate these sides during normal time, with 120 minutes only able to conjure up a couple of goals, Miroslav Klose’s 80th-minute equaliser cancelling out a 49th-minute opening goal from Roberto Ayala.
That left the match to be settled by penalties, and it was Jens Lehmann who proved the hosts’ hero, saving from both Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso, while Oliver Neuville, Michael Ballack, Lukas Podolski and Tim Borowski all successfully dispatched their spot kicks past Argentina’s substitute goalkeeper Leo Franco.

Match Report
Argentina took the lead early in the second half through a Roberto Ayala header, but they paid the price for some defensive substitutions by coach Jose Pekerman, and with ten minutes remaining Miroslav Klose brought the scores level.
The match ended with both teams out on their feet and it was Jens Lehmann who emerged as the hero of the day, saving two Argentinian spot-kicks to send Jurgen Klinsmann's side into the last four.
Argentina's Javier Saviola was dropped by Pekerman, replaced by Carlos Tevez up front while Fabricio Coloccini came in for Lionel Scaloni.
Luis Gonzalez recovered from a groin injury and took his place in midfield, while Lionel Messi remained on the bench.
Germany named an unchanged team as skipper Michael Ballack and striker Miroslav Klose both passed fitness tests after shaking off injuries. Klinsmann was able to name the same team which started in the 2-0 second-round win over Sweden.
In the opening minutes, Germany, roared on by a huge majority in Berlin's Olympiastadion, looked the brighter of the two teams. The first save of the game was made by Abbondanzieri from a Podolski free-kick, and although the shot was tame, the Argentinian required two attempts to gather the ball. The best chance early on fell to Ballack who was picked out by Schneider but the new Chelsea signing headed just wide from 12 yards.

Argentina were playing their patient, probing game but Germany were succeeding at keeping them at bay and despite enjoying an abundance of possession, the South American side were unable to test Jens Lehmann in the opening stages.

Riquelme, Argentina's playmaker, was shadowed throughout by Frings, and with his contribution limited, Argentina were struggling to make inroads up front. With the hosts appearing to lack the imagination to penetrate their opponents' defence, the first half was absorbing, rather than the enthralling affair that had been anticipated; the kind of game to be admired but not a match to set the pulses racing.

Sorin was cautioned in the first minute after the break, meaning the Argentinian skipper would miss the semi-final should Pekerman's side prevail. Moments later Argentina took the lead through Roberto Ayala who rose highest at a Riquelme corner to power home a header from close range.

It was the first time Germany had been behind at the tournament and a real test of the newly-discovered self-belief that had characterised their progress over the last three weeks.

Germany's response was immediate, forcing a series of corners with their best chance falling to Ballack after Abbondanzieri went walkabout, but the skipper's volleyed effort was blocked by Ayala. Shortly afterwards, the keeper had to be replaced having failed to recover from a clash with Klose.

Pekerman's thoughts were evident with 20 minutes remaining when he replaced his playmaker Riquelme with the more pragmatic midfielder Cambiasso, as the South Americans looked content to hold their lead. However, Argentina almost extended their advantage when Tevez took advantage of a loose pass across the face of the Germany defence, before slotting the ball through to Maxi who fired into the side netting.

With Crespo removed for Cruz, and no place for the mercurial talents of Messi or Saviola, Pekerman was gambling on his team holding on for the last ten minutes. It was a gamble that backfired immediately when Michael Ballack's cross was flicked on by Borowski to Klose who powered home a header past the substitute keeper Franco for his fifth goal of the tournament.

With extra-time beckoning, Germany, buoyed by their equaliser, were in the ascendancy, although their attacking impetus was hindered by an injury to Michael Ballack, whose movement appeared to be restricted. Argentina, lacking the influence of Riquelme, and without the option of introducing an attacking substitution, looked content to hear the final whistle.

The first period of extra-time tended to support the suspicion that penalties were the only way these sides would be separated. Both teams appeared to be suffering from fatigue and, in keeping with the game as a whole, clear cut chances were conspicuous by their absence.

In the second period of extra-time, Argentina looked like they least wanted penalties as they took the game the game to Germany. However, by this stage, both sets of players looked exhausted and penalties looked increasingly inevitable. What had started as a game of chess had ended in stalemate.

Neuville blasted his first penalty past Abbondanzieri, while Cruz gave Lehmann no chance with Argentina's initial effort. Ballack drove his effort home, but Argentina's next effort was a tame spot-kick from Ayala which Lehmann saved with ease. Podolski slotted home Germany's third, and his effort was matched by Maxi. Borowski sent the keeper the wrong way for Germany's fourth, meaning Cambiasso had to score to keep Argentina alive, but his effort was stopped by Lehmann.

The match ended on a sour note when both sets of players were involved in an ugly brawl. It was difficult to deduce the cause of the initial bust-up, but it was a sad end to what had been a compelling contest.

After this result, Germany must be regarded as the team to beat. On home soil and having overcome the team many predicted to win the World Cup, it is certainly hard to see them not reaching the final.


Jens Lehmann was the hero for Germany as his saves from Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso were crucial in the Nationalmannschaft’s progression to the semi-finals. The hosts had a 100 per cent success rate from the penalty spot, with Neuville, Ballack, Podolski and Borowski all converting.

In conclusion:

Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to elect Lehmann as his number one for this FIFA World Cup appears to be justified by this result alone. His two saves have given Germany a place in the semi-finals, where they will meet Italy or Ukraine. For Argentina, who took the lead in this game, it will be a long journey home for a team which performed so well in the early stages of this tournament.

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World Cup preview - Italy v Ukraine

World Cup preview - Italy v Ukraine
After the Italy-Australia match, the international press engaged in a veritable festival of Azzurri-bashing, painting the Italians as ruthless opportunists who only know one way to play. That could all change against Ukraine. The last few days have been filled with the usual debate between advocates of an open attacking game on the one hand and hard-nosed realists on the other, with various shades of opinion in between.
It is the same old story, Italy have once again reached the quarter-final stage of the FIFA World Cup, and were it not for the dramatic incident involving Gianluca Pessotto (the former Juventus and Italy defender hospitalised after a fall of nearly ten metres), the atmosphere in the Azzurri camp could be described as top-class.

There is clearly a great feeling of togetherness within the camp, while the players are determined to respond to external criticism in the best possible way – out on the pitch. All in all, concentration should not be a problem for Lippi's men, as they attempt to take another step along the road to Berlin.
The Ukraine match promises to be a difficult one, but it is also an opportunity for Italy to show that a leopard can indeed change its spots. After an expansive, attacking game against Ghana, three matches followed (against USA, Czech Republic and Australia) in which Lippi's side allowed their opponents the run of midfield, relying on fast counter-attacking. Despite ceding the initiative to their rivals, Italy conceded just once, an own goal against USA, and always scored first. The match against the eastern Europeans promises to be a different affair entirely.

Italy and Ukraine meet in Hamburg on Friday with a place in the last four of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ at stake. Ukrainian target man Andriy Shevchenko’s close ties with Italy mean a night of close scrutiny beckons for the lethal forward.
Italy, one of the powerhouses of European and world football, have failed to live up to expectations at big tournaments in recent years. The Azzurri are keen to give a good account of themselves this time around to cement what they feel is their rightful place at the top of the international football pecking order.
Ukraine, on the other hand, are participating at their first ever major international event. That is not to say the eastern Europeans are without pedigree. Ukrainians often formed the backbone of the former Soviet Union teams and Dynamo Kiev are an ever-present fixture in the UEFA Champions League. The tactical know-how of coach Oleg Blokhin and the goalscoring exploits of Shevchenko have been the springboard for success at Germany 2006.

The story so far

Italy qualified as winners of Group E, one of the most difficult at the tournament, by beating Ghana in their opening match, drawing a tough encounter with the USA and then overcoming the Czech Republic. In their second-round match the ten-man Azzurri came up against a physically imposing Australia led by experienced Dutch coach Guus Hiddink. Francesco Totti struck the only goal from the penalty spot deep into injury time to seal a dramatic victory in a tightly fought match.
Following a disastrous 4-0 defeat by Spain in their opening game, Ukraine restored some pride and belief with an equally resounding win over Saudi Arabia. Blokhin’s men then booked their ticket for the second round with a 1-0 triumph over Tunisia. The first knockout round saw Ukraine overcome Kobi Kuhn’s Switzerland in Cologne in a goalless match decided by penalties. Following Shevchenko's opening miss, goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskyi saved two spot-kicks in a 3-0 shoot-out success, the highlight of which was the cheekily chipped penalty scored by Artem Milevskiy.

Suspended players

Daniele De Rossi (ITA)

Marco Materazzi (ITA)

Past meetings

Friday’s will be the fourth meeting between the sides. Two of those matches came during qualifying for the 1996 UEFA European Championship with Italy winning 2-0 in Kiev in March 1995 through goals from Attilio Lombardo and Gianfranco Zola, and 3-1 in Bari in November of the same year. Fabrizio Ravanelli (2), Paolo Maldini netted for the Italians and Andriy Polunin for Ukraine. The most recent encounter was a 0-0 draw in a friendly match in Lausanne as part of the build-up to Germany 2006.

The duel

Shevchenko v his old Milan team-mates

All eyes will be on the former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko as he comes face to face with Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino, men the new Chelsea striker counted as team-mates until four weeks ago. The absence of Alessandro Nesta from the heart of the Italy defence will be welcome news for Shevchenko. Perhaps the key battle will be between two sublimely gifted playmakers if Blokhin decides to select Artem Milevskiy (in place of the injured Andriy Voronin) and Lippi gives the nod to Francesco Totti.
What they're saying

Angelo Peruzzi, Italy goalkeeper:

We are not dependent on Totti, but of course he is very important for us and the manager. His match fitness is improving all the time and soon he’ll be 100 per cent. If you ask any manager in Germany I’m sure they’d all like a Totti in their squad. He’s not a problem at all - if only we had more players like him.

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine forward:

Italy are favourites. We must try and play as a team, summing up all our reserves of fighting spirit to make up for our lack of technical ability.

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World Cup preview - Germany v Argentina

World Cup preview - Germany v Argentina
Germany meet Argentina in the World Cup's first quarter final in Berlin today in what promises to be the match of the tournament so far.

FIFA World Cup powerhouses Germany and Argentina are the best of enemies, their rich footballing histories punctuated by some classic and decisive encounters.
Friday's mouth-watering clash in Berlin promises to be no exception, as two of the most enterprising teams in the Germany showpiece come into direct opposition.

The story so far
After a convincing last-16 win over Sweden, there has been nothing but good vibes emanating from the German camp. The players have enjoyed spending some well-deserved time with their families and friends, while several squad members took up the offer of archery lessons for a bit of additional target practice. As for the team, all the indications are that coach Jurgen Klinsmann will start with the same 11 players who earned the hosts their place in the quarter-finals last Saturday.
As for Argentina, Jose Pekerman has also declined to confirm his starting XI ahead of the game, though he too is unlikely to make unforced changes to the side that saw off Mexico in their Round of 16 tie. Pekerman’s only doubts concern the right side of his defence and midfield. At the back, it is not yet clear whether Nicolas Burdisso, who started in the team’s first two games, will line up on Friday. If not, then either Lionel Scaloni, Fabricio Coloccini or Leandro Cufre will be ready to step in. As for midfield, Porto’s Luis Gonzalez looks likely to return on the right side, although it is conceivable he could yet lose out to the in-form Esteban Cambiasso.
Past meetings
Although this will be the teams’ fifth encounter at a FIFA World Cup, it is the last two games – the Finals of Mexico 86 and Italia 90 – that cemented the fierce rivalry between the sides. In the first of these, the inspiration for the South Americans’ 3-2 win came from one Diego Maradona, who will doubtless settle for a repeat of that scoreline as he roars his compatriots on from the stands. Four years later, the Nationalmannschaft exacted immediate revenge, when Andreas Brehme's 84th-minute penalty handed them a 1-0 victory and the world title in the decider in Rome.
Two interesting facts add even more spice to Friday’s showdown. The first is that at Italia 90, the Albiceleste reached the Final after eliminating the hosts in the previous round. The second is that since Germany’s victory over the South Americans in that year’s decider, they have not beaten their old foes once.

The duels

Not one, but two spring to mind for Friday’s showdown: Michael Ballack v Juan Riquelme and Miroslav Klose v Hernan Crespo.

Ballack and Riquelme are both intelligent midfielders with great vision and shooting skills, although the pair have their differences. The German is more direct than the Argentine playmaker, who prefers to vary the tempo of the game and cut swathes through defences with his long and short-range passing. No one has any doubt that the effectiveness of both teams’ play, and thus the outcome of the game itself, will depend a great deal on how the pair perform.
The second battle will be fought in front of goal and pits Klose, scorer of four goals already at Germany 2006, against Crespo, who has three strikes thus far. Both are leading candidates for the adidas Golden Shoe. The German sharpshooter has picked up where he left off four years ago in Korea/Japan and now has an impressive nine FIFA World Cup goals to his name. Not to be outdone, the Argentine front-runner has found the net in his last four FIFA World Cup games – his team’s final game of Korea/Japan 2002 against Sweden followed by his three appearances for the Albiceleste here in Germany: against Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia and Montenegro and Mexico (he did not play against the Netherlands). It seems almost certain that one of the lethal pair will have a say in the final outcome tomorrow.

What they're saying

Miroslav Klose, Germany striker:

We’re not particularly nervous about facing Argentina, even though they’re a strong side and one of the favourites for the title. Now that they have had the misfortune to come up against us, we hope we can send them home.

Carlos Tevez, Argentina forward:

The key to beating Germany? Fight to the death. As well as that we have to play football and keep the ball on the ground, but first and foremost we have to fight.

Lehmann and Riquelme face to face again

Lehmann keeps dream alive

In Lehmann's case, he has already triumphed in one critical contest: the duel with his long-standing adversary Oliver Kahn for the Nationalmannschaft's number one jersey. Jurgen Klinsmann handed Lehmann a huge confidence boost in naming him as his first-choice keeper, and the experienced shot-stopper is determined to repay his coach’s faith.
It is so far, so good as well for Lehmann. Germany’s defence, often criticised in the run-up to the finals, has not shipped a single goal in their last three games, and Lehmann’s composure and authority have had much to do with that. However, as the 36-year-old admits, he is now looking for much more against Argentina: "It's true that Argentina are a dangerous outfit and probably the strongest we've seen in the tournament so far. They are on another level, but we have a lot of faith in ourselves."
At this stage in proceedings, as Lehmann freely admits, pressure becomes a telling factor and can be the difference between glory and despair. For all that, the keeper’s confidence in his team-mates is unwavering. “As the tournament progresses, it’s obvious that the pressure is going to increase," he said. "But we don’t feel it because we’re playing well. We’ve got what it takes to get through to the next round and we’ve got the whole country behind us. We can make a difference.”

Riquelme’s revival

Meanwhile, in the Argentinian camp, expectation is growing by the day. The gifted Riquelme is the standard-bearer for his team, the creative fulcrum around which the Albiceleste’s star-studded attack revolves and he is quite likely to take the spot-kick against his old adversary Lehmann should Argentina be awarded a penalty during the game.
The talented number ten has been quietly effective in the tournament so far, although a little way short of his brilliant best. Many pundits had him down as the player to watch, and while he has not disappointed, there can be no doubt that the Villarreal man has more to give. According to media reports, Jose Pekerman made clear to Riquelme just hours before the two-time champions’ Round of 16 clash with Mexico that his country now needs him more than ever.
For his part, just days after his 28th birthday, the former Boca Juniors player remains quietly content with his team’s performances. “The most important thing is that the team wins and that we play as we can. We’ve done it up to now, and we want to carry on like that. Personally speaking, every time I go out onto the pitch, I’m happy,” explained the midfield maestro.
What is certain, however, is that he will be determined to redress the balance after that critical penalty miss in Villarreal. As the shy and retiring Riquelme has shown on so many occasions, actions speak louder than words.

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Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here
During this brief World Cup hiatus, why not spare a thought for absent nations?
The following seven teams would all have brought something to the party, if only they’d qualified.
Still, there’s always next time…

Cameroon would have brought: Samuel Eto’o
Cameroon were the first African team to make the quarter finals in 1990, an achievement matched by Senegal in 2002. They then successfully qualified for the 1994, 1998 and 2002 tournaments, though never made it past the first round. They might have had a chance this year with Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o leading the forward line, but finished a solitary point behind Ivory Coast in qualifying.

Greece would have brought: their Euro 2004 trophy
An unfancied Greece team shocked a continent in 2004, beating Portugal, France, Czech Republic and Portugal (again) to win Euro 2004 via some robust defending and mounumental team effort. They wouldn’t have made Germany 2006 any prettier but it would have been great to see the current European Champions continue kicking ass on the world stage. Hellas yeah!

Ireland would have brought: their fans
Ireland will never be dubbed “the Brazil of Europe” but talents like Robbie Keane and Damien Duff would have been welcome additions to this World Cup (Keane’s questionable “forward roll then fire an imaginary arrow” goal celebration would have been confiscated at customs though). The real reason we miss Ireland is their good natured supporters. Imagine England fans just happy to be there, dressed in green and without the violent downside.

Nigeria would have brought: Jay-Jay
The Nigerians were becoming semi-regulars at the World Cup, qualifying for three straight tournaments from 1994-2002 and twice making the second round. They were agonizingly close to a fourth consecutive appearance, finishing level on points with Angola, but having an inferior head to head record. Obafemi Martins pace would have given World Cup defences something to worry about, and Jay-Jay Okacha’s bag of tricks makes David Blaine look amateur.

Turkey would have brought: flares (the firework things, not the ’70s fashion things)
Their passionate, passionate fans would have created some serious atmosphere. With Germany’s sizeable Turkish population, they would have been well represented too. Not sure what this years policy on flares was (Budweiser approved flares only?) but Turkish fans would have found a way to light up the stadiums.

Uruguay would have brought: more stars
The only former champions not present, Uruguay’s light blue jerseys have two stars - count ‘em - proudly on display. Urugauy came closest of all the absent teams, narrowly losing the CONMEBOL-OFC play-off to Australia on penalties.

Wales would have brought: Giggsy
Germany 2006 was probably Ryan Giggs’ last chance to play on the world’s biggest stage, but the Welsh team never looked like qualifying. Also would have been fun to see how World Cup referees dealt with tough tackling, mouthy midfielder Robbie Savage (though he’s currently in enforced retirement from international football after a spat with John Toshack).

Who do you wish were here?

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For the Record

For the Record
In the past week, Marcus Allbäck of Sweden scored the 2,000th World Cup goal, and Ronaldo scored his fifteenth to set a new record for the most by a single player in World Cup history. But there have been many more records set throughout this year’s tournament, both by single players and by entire teams. Here’s a quick look at some new standards to beat after this year.

Current Portuguese coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, set a record for most consecutive wins. Conveniently, the fact that his first seven wins came when he was coach of his native Brazilian national team for their 2002 World Cup victory is as irrelevant as the 80’s-era Bruce Reynolds-style mustache he insists on sporting.
And the neutral Swiss put on a fine display of defense in the tournament, becoming the first team ever not to concede a single goal in a World Cup. Except, of course, in the shoot out with Ukraine when they allowed three. Due to some linguistic trickery, these goals, apparently, were not “conceded,” but counted nonetheless, as Ukraine advances to the quarter-finals in its first World Cup appearance.
Also of note is Togo’s unfortunate induction into the collection of twelve teams who lost every game of their World Cup. But even more dismal is Paraguay’s current number one ranking in the categories of quickest own-goal and substitution of a goalkeeper, as well as being the only team ever to have been defeated in a match with only an own goal.
And, of course, there are the cards, a topic of much dispute for this year’s tournament. There should be little surprise that the number of cards, both red and yellow, which have been doled out thus far have set an all-time record with 310 yellows and 25 reds making their appearance as of Tuesday.
The most colorful match of this year has been the infamous game between Portugal and the Netherlands, which tied the record for most yellow cards (16) in a single match , and set a new high for most total (and the most possible) red cards (4). Thanks to referee Valentin Ivanov, Portugal now holds claim to being the recipient of the most yellow cards assessed to a single team, having received nine in the match.
But a set of statistics would certainly not be complete without the most embarrassing record for most yellow cards given to a player in a single match when Croatia’s Josip Šimunić somehow managed to accumulate three yellow warnings in the game against Australia.
This mark is likely not to be surpassed for a long time to come. But if what’s past is prologue, I have little doubt that this year’s referees will find some way to outdo even that blunder.

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France stuns Spain, will face Brazil in quarters

France came from behind to beat Spain 3-1 in an absorbing encounter in Hanover.
Spain had taken the lead through a David Villa penalty, but France levelled before the break through Franck Ribery. The game appeared to be heading for extra-time until Patrick Vieira broke the deadlock in the closing minutes, and Zinedine Zidane sealed the win with a wonderful goal in stoppage time.

Spain included Cesc Fabregas and Raul at the expense of Marcos Senna and Luis Garcia in what was an attacking formation for Luis Aragones' side. For France, suspended French duo Eric Abidal and Zinedine Zidane returned for Mikael Silvestre and David Trezeguet in an experienced line-up that contained five survivors from the 1998 World Cup winning side. Spain enjoyed more of the possession in the early stages but they were unable to carve out any chances and France looked relatively comfortable at the back. At the other end, Henry shot weakly at Casillas in what was a cagey opening to the game. Midway through the half France created a fine opening when Zidane found Henry on the right wing and his low cross eluded Ribery, and although Vieira got a foot to the ball, he was unable to steer his effort on target.

Spain finally broke the deadlock on 27 minutes when Lilian Thuram made a rash challenge on Pablo Ibanez in the area and the referee pointed straight to the penalty spot. David Villa stepped up and slotted a perfect spot-kick just beyond Barthez's reach and Aragones's side were ahead. Zinedine Zidane playing what could be his last ever match was struggling to impose himself on the game. Whenever he received possession he was harried by Xavi and Fabregas who were doing a wonderful job denying him space and curbing his effectiveness. France's other key player, Thierry Henry, was also struggling to make an impact, frequently being caught offside as the Spanish defence pushed up whenever France were in possession. However, five minutes before the break it was a member of the younger generation who hauled them back into the game. Put through on goal by Patrick Vieira, Franck Ribery timed his run to perfection, sprinted through on goal, before skipping past Casillas and sliding the ball into the empty net. It was the last meaningful action in what had been an absorbing opening half. Spain, by virtue of their territorial supremacy, looked the better team, but they must have been concerned at their failure to translate that domination into goalscoring chances. France, meanwhile, infused with self-belief after Ribery's equaliser, will have fancied their chances of pulling off an upset.

The first chance of the second half fell to Malouda who was picked out by Zidane on the edge of the Spanish penalty area, but his delicate chip was acrobatically saved by Casillas. With France beginning to take the game to Spain, Aragones introduced Luis Garcia and Joaquin for Villa and Raul, in an attempt to regain the initiative. The changes did not produce an immediate response from his team, and indeed it was France who appeared to have a renewed appetite for the battle. Unfortunately, the second half lacked the fluency and tempo of the opening period and the game was frequently interrupted by a series of niggling fouls. Chances were few and far between although Joaquin went close with a left foot drive for France, while France's best player Ribery set up Govou but the substitute blazed over. However, just when the game looked like it was meandering towards extra-time, France went ahead through Patrick Vieira. A Zidane free-kick glanced off Alonso and Vieira was waiting at the far post to head home from close range. France's third goal came as Spanish went in search of an equaliser. Zidane, who had worked hard but had been a peripheral influence going forward, was put through and after cutting inside Puyol, the French skipper buried his shot past Casillas.

The 3-1 scoreline was harsh on Spain in what had been a close game throughout. However, France probably deserved their win for the way in which they had controlled the game in the second half. One again Spain have flattered to deceive and will go home disappointed that they have failed to deliver on the biggest stage. To dismiss them as chokers would be a slight on France, who had rolled back the years to earn the right to face Brazil in the quarter-finals.

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Brazil cruise through

Brazil cruise through
Brazil are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, after a comfortable 3-0 win over Ghana in Dortmund.
It is four wins and counting for holders Brazil at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ after they beat Ghana 3-0 in Dortmund to book their place in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, 27 June 2006.
While Brazil advanced to a quarter-final against Spain or France in Frankfurt on Saturday, the talking point of this Round of 16 tie was the opening goal by Ronaldo with which the Brazil marksman wrote his name in the record books. Ronaldo's fifth-minute strike was his 15th in the FIFA World Cup, taking him past Germany's Gerd Muller as the most prolific scorer in the 76-year history of the tournament...

Ghana, the only African side to advance to the knockout rounds, pushed Brazil all the way in the opening period but after missing several chances to score, they conceded a second goal right on the stroke of half-time from Adriano. After losing Asamoah Gyan to a red card following a second bookable offence in the 81st minute, their fate was sealed when Ze Roberto added a third for Brazil three minutes later.

Match Report:

The result was just about deserved although for long periods of the match, Ghana controlled possession and but for some terrible finishing from their erratic forwards, could possibly have got something out of the game. However, overall, the holders simply had too much nous for the African side, who didn't help themselves by employing a risky offside trap that Brazil exploited for two of their three goals. Ultimately, the match is likely to be remembered for Ronaldo's achievement in breaking Gerd Muller's World Cup scoring record, when he opened the scoring in the fifth minute of the game. It was the Brazilian's 15th goal at the finals and a timely reminder to all those who had written him off earlier in the competition. For the biggest match in their history Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic recalled Eric Addo for the suspended Michael Essien. Sulley Muntari returned from suspension while Asamoah Gyan returned to partner Matthew Amoah in attack. Emmanuel Pappoe returned at the expense of Habib Mohamed in defence. Brazil reverted to their first-choice line-up, with Jose Ze Roberto, Adriano, Emerson, Roberto Carlos and Cafu returning. Cafu was playing his 19th World Cup finals match, a new Brazilian record, while Ronaldo was looking to score the goal that would give him the World Cup scoring record.

The Brazilian wasted little time overtaking Muller's tally, when he broke Ghana's sloppy offside trap before performing a shimmy that took him past Kingson, to score his 15th goal at the finals. More importantly, the goal gave Brazil a one-goal lead within five minutes of the kick-off. Ghana's tactic of defening high up the pitch was looking suicidal in the opening quarter of the game. Brazil repeated their earlier move on 13 minutes, this time it was Adriano bursting through but his finishing could not match that of his striker partner and although the Inter striker skipped past the keeper, he fell to the ground appealing for a penalty. The referee was having none of it and showed the Brazilian a yellow card for diving. Ghana took their time to get going but they gradually began to gain a foothold in the game and after a neat passing move, Muntari received the ball on the edge of the area, but he dragged his shot wide. As the half progressed the balance of play had shifted and it was Brazil who had to defend as Ghana dominated possession. Amoah came close when Brazil failed to clear an Appiah cross, but Amoah's shot was straight at Dida. At the other end Kingson flapped at a couple of Ronaldinho crosses but on each occasion the ball dropped to safety. Muntari was unlucky not to equalise five minutes before half-time when Mensah rose unmarked at a corner but his downward header was straight at Dida and although he knew little about it, the ball cannoned off his foot and away to safety. However, on the stroke of half-time Brazil made Ghana pay for their profligacy when they broke in numbers and Cafu crossed for Adrinao to bundle the ball over with his thigh. It was a swift, incisive counter-attack, but a more alert linesman would have spotted that Adriano was offside when the final pass was made.

After the break, Ghana again took the game to Brazil, but for all their intricate approach play, their finishing continued to let them down. Meanwhile, Brazil were content to soak up the pressure and hit their opponents on the counter attack. On one such break Ronaldinho picked out Robert Carlos, but the full-back poked his shot straight at Kingson. Ghana's best chance came midway through the half when Amoah was put through on goal by a clever pass from Appiah, but his curling right foot shot was well saved by Dida. Ghana's hopes were hit further with ten minutes remaining when striker Gyan was given a second yellow card. However, given his finishing throughout the tournament Shortly after Gyan's departure, Ze Roberto added a third for Brazil, when he sprung the offside trap before chipping over Kingson and rolling the ball into the empty net. In construction the goal was almost identical to Ronaldo's effort and Adriano's earlier miss, and it confirmed that for all their flair going forward, Ghana had ultimately been undone by their failings at the back. There could have been more goals from Brazil in the closing minutes but Kingson repeatedly denied the holders to ensure the scoreline retained an air of respectability that Ghana's overall play deserved.

Man of the Match: ZE ROBERTO (BRA):

Midfielder Ze Roberto was instrumental in slowing the powerful Ghana attack and pushing forward to support Brazil’s ‘Magic Quartet’, even scoring a late goal to help Brazil obtain a 3-0 win on Tuesday.
The reigning world champions had a number of strong performances in this Round of 16 encounter, including from fellow goalscorers Ronaldo and Adriano, but it was the Bayern Munich man with his gritty play in all areas of the pitch who was named Budweiser Man of the Match, the second time he has received the honour at Germany 2006.
With Brazil 2-0 up in the closing minutes of the match, Ze Roberto made a perfectly timed run down the middle of the pitch, tipped the ball around goalkeeper Richard Kingson and coolly finished into the empty net. The team’s third goal confirmed that the Brazilians were well and truly through to the quarter-finals.
"There were many outstanding performances, but Ze Roberto was chosen as the Budweiser Man of the Match because apart from the brilliant individual performance he was a great team player," said FIFA Technical Study Group member Gyorgy Mezey. "He was outstanding in attack and defence.
"In defence he was very good with the clean tackles - an example of fair play. He contributed a lot in the attack as well, as he was always well positioned and moved a lot. His goal was a tactical play, he scored from a tactical move. In fact, he infiltrated the Ghana defence extremely well."

In conclusion:

Ghana failed to pull off the shock that the romantics may have been hoping for but they can be well satisfied with their performance at their first ever FIFA World Cup. Brazil, as most perhaps expected, won through on an afternoon where the world champions' finishing power was the difference between the teams.

Brazil: Dida, Cafu, Lucio, Juan, Carlos, Emerson, Ze Roberto, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo.

Subs used: Gilberto Silva 45 (for Emerson), Juninho 61 (for Adriano), Ricardino 83 (for Kaka). Bookings: Adriano 13, Juan 44

Ghana: Kingson, Pantsil, Shilla, Mensah, Pappoe, Draman, Eric Addo, Appiah, Muntari, Amoah, Gyan.

Subs used: Boateng 70 (for E Addo), Tachie-Mensah 69 (for Amoah).

Bookings: Muntari 7, Muntari 11, Pantsil 29, Addo 38, Gyan 48

Sent-off: Gyan 81

Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia).

Scorers: Brazil: Ronaldo 5, Adriano 46, Ze Roberto 86.

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Ukraine won through to a FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final against Italy after beating Switzerland on penalties after a goalless draw in Cologne on Monday, 26 June 2006.
None of Switzerland's three penalty-takers - Marco Streller, Tranquillo Barnetta and Ricardo Cabanas - were able to convert their kicks meaning that despite Andriy Shevchenko's miss for Ukraine, Oleg Blokhin's side won the shoot-out 3-0. Artem Milevskiy, Serhiy Rebrov and Oleg Gusev all put the ball past Pascal Zuberbuehler to leave the Ukrainians looking forward to a tie with Italy in Hamburg on Friday.

Chances were at a premium during the opening 90 minutes of this Round of 16 match, but both teams at least managed to hit the woodwork. Shevchenko headed against the crossbar at one end while Alexander Frei's free-kick curled on to the crossbar at the other.
In extra time both Johann Vogel and Philipp Degen went close for the Swiss, but as the 120 minutes ended scoreless, penalties were required for the first time in this edition of the FIFA World Cup.

Penalties: Switzerland had a disastrous shoot-out, missing all three kicks after gaining an early advantage when Shevchenko went first and Zuberbuehler saved. Shovkovskyi kept out Swiss attempts by Streller and Cabanas, while Barnetta smashed against the bar and it was left to Gusev to win it for Ukraine.

After a game where penalties provided the only real drama of the night, Ukraine moved through to the quarter-finals on their first visit to the FIFA World Cup. Switzerland were left to contemplate whether a more adventurous approach would have kept them in the competition.

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