The 6-0 goalfest for Argentina/thrashing of Serbia & Montenegro was especially twinkling in my list—as well as Diego Maradona’s, who couldn’t contain his euphoria—of wonders, being that I am part Argentine (for serious). Each of the goals from Esteban Cambiasso (31st minute), Hernán Crespo(78'), Carlos Tevez (84'), Lionel Messi (88') as well as the double from Maxi Rodríguez (6’ & 41’) spelt sheer skill, talent and tactical greatness. Of course, the competitor part of me couldn’t help feeling deeply sorry for the Serbs for their humiliating defeat. How could I not, since we’re talking about a team which, in their whole World Cup 2006 campaign, only conceded ONE goal. Tsk tsk.
Of course, there was the shocking 2-0 demolition of the #2 FIFA ranked Czech Republic courtesy of Ghana. Ghana! The unlikely debutants whopping the asses of one of the biggest footballing forces of the world, simultaneously recording an impressive first win for an African nation at Germany’06. Great stuff.
Then there’s the amazing sweeping header by Alberto Gilardino, which gave Italy a short-lived lead over a determined-to-overcome-their-pathetic-0-3-start USA side. Before long, the Americans managed to level but not without the help of opposing defender, Cristian Zaccardo. And within 60 seconds of that bizarre own goal, the Azzurri found themselves one man short when Daniele De Rossi viciously tore open Brian McBride’s face with his elbow. USA followed suit—twice within a period of two minutes—and so it was 10 men in blue vs 9 men in white. Not to forget the controversial disallowed goal that almost gave the USA the three points they so desperately wanted. Phew! Such a huge dose of drama in just one football game, innit.
Brazil disappointed yet again with a mediocre performance. They were made to work very, very hard by Australia, who continued their brilliant display. To be fair to the Samba Kings, Mark Schwarzer was tested many a time, plus fantastic shots that were denied by the Australian woodwork. Having said that, however, the Socceroos also made sure to give Dida and his defenders major scares. In the end, experience prevailed over perseverance, and it was the yellow sea of Brazil that were celebrating the 2-0 result.
As for France, well, Thierry Henry gifted his sorry-looking team with a superb 8th-minute finishing, ending a long World Cup goal drought since Emmanuel Petit’s successful strike at France’98. Disappointingly, Les Bleus carelessly allowed Park Ji-Sung’s hard work to convert into a goal, ending the night with a 1-1 draw. Boo France, hooray Red Devils! (Btw for you less learned lot out there, Manchester United and South Korea national football team—both of which Park plays for—are associated with this same nickname. Talk about amazing coincidences, huh.)
What a wonderful weekend it was for footie lovers, indeed.