Off the pitch the French continued to implode with Viera sent home, team officials quitting and players refusing to train. All eyes were on the leading nations to roll out the sparkling football. What we got was The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and some play that would disgrace the beaches here in Tenerife.
Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1
Some rugged defending, cynical theatrics, and a disgraceful con of a sending off, thankfully there were glimpses of some uplifting samba magic along the way. Drogba started for Ivory Coast, still with his arm in plaster and concerns over his movement. Robinho was the first big name to show, his first minute swerving shot from the right just missed the Ivory goal. Drogba survived his first robust challenge from Lucio as Brazil got the better of the game.
Brazil opened their account after 24 minutes with Fabiano rifling the ball into the top of the net from an acute angle. Ivory broke and tested Cesar who just got the better of a strange bounce.
The second half was just 5 minutes old when we saw the good and bad of Brazil. Fabiano nodded the ball down and used his arm to control it, once at his feet he skipped through three defenders with sheer quality to make it 2-0. Kaka was having a quiet game but after 63 minutes he burst down the left and cut a perfect cross inside the box to Elano to make it 3-0. a few minutes later he was stretchered off after a risky sliding tackle.
Romaric came on for Ivory Coast and was denied an instant goal by Cesar, that seemed to inspire his team mates. Toure picked up the ball after a half clearance and set up Drogba to score, a much needed tonic after toiling alone up front. Niggly tackles started flaring up but Keita pushed it way too far when running into Brazil’s Kaka, a slight nudge and Keita was down holding his face as if poleaxed by Ricky Hatton , the ref didn’t see it clearly and sided with the squirming Keita, sending Kaka
To the dressing room with a one game ban at least. An unseemly end to a showpiece game.
Italy 1, New Zealand 1
The All Whites showed again that nothing can be taken for granted in the 2010 World Cup. Elliott went close in the opening minutes but that was just a prelude to a moment of history. Cannavaro tried to cut out a Reid cross but set it up for Lee Smeltz a former Halifax and AFC Wimbledon player, he nipped in amid a hint of offside and planted the ball in the Italy net. The stuttering Italians were showing very little form and had a bit of luck in their equaliser after 30 minutes. Tommy Smith was adjudged to have pulled De Rossi down but hardly ruffled his shirt before the Italian collapsed like a ton of pasta. Laquinta fired in the penalty much to his teams relief.
Italy got a bit better in the second half but New Zealand were not about to lose this scalp. Paston made some inspired stops in goal, most notably from Montolivo and Camoranese. Chris Wood could have taken all 3 points for the rugby nation but his late shot flashed wide. The reigning champions now find themselves really up against it to make the next round.
Slovakia 0, Paraguay 2
The neat passing football of Paraguay brought more reward with a comfortable win over Slovakia. Roque Santa Cruz led the line well as the South Americans toyed with their European opponents for 27 minutes before Barrios fed Vera for a neat finish off the edge of his boot. Salata tried to fight back but saw his shot fly over the bar.
Paraguay decided to sit on their lead in the second half giving Slovakia some hope but they couldn’t produce anything sharp enough to trouble the leaders. Riveros sealed the result 5 minutes from time with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.