Day 13 World Cup action round-up - England vs. Germany awaits, USA and Ghana also progress
Day 13 of the tournament provided plenty of excitement as the knockout stages continued to take shape. England produced the goods when it mattered with a 1-0 win over Slovenia, while the USA left it extremely late before securing their place in the last 16 with three points against Algeria. In Group D, Germany saw off Ghana to set up a clash with England while Ghana also progressed after Australia did them a favour defeating Serbia 2-1.
England narrowly defeated Slovenia thanks to a Jermain Defoe goal in a must win game for the Three Lions in Port Elizabeth. With Slovenia in pole position in the Group, it was left up to England to take the game to their opponents and they reaped the rewards almost instantly when after 22 minutes, Defoe got in front of his marker to steer a James Milner cross into the net and give England the lead. England were hungry for more and another Milner cross caused problems for Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic who could only palm into the path of Frank Lampard who blazed over.
The keeper made a mends just minutes later denying both Captain Steven Gerrard and Defoe in quick succession as England continued their dominance. Slovenia had their chances late on, the best falling to Valter Birsa who failed to trouble James when the ball came to him just 12 yards out. England played out the closing minutes in the corner of the Slovenia half to seal a crucial win and progress to the knockout stages where they will now face their old foes Germany.
UNITED STATES 1
A dramatic stoppage time winner from Landan Donovan secured a 1-0 win over Algeria and a place in the last 16 for the USA. Algeria went agonisingly close to taking the lead just five minutes in when Rafik Djebbour rifled a volley against the crossbar after American defender Jay Demerit had completely misjudged an Algerian long ball. The United States looked to have taken the lead on 20 minutes when Donovan’s shot was saved brilliantly by Raid Ouheb M’Bolhi, but rebounded back to the LA Galaxy striker who squared it for Dempsey to slot home. The goal was chalked off though as it was wrongly disallowed for offside. Jozy Altidore had the best chance of an entertaining opening 45 minutes late on, but blazed over from just five yards.
The second half saw USA continue to press and probe but they were beginning to look short of ideas and it looked increasingly likely that they would exit the competition. However, deep into injury time, Dempsey’s shot was parried into the path of Donovan who made no mistake, blasting home from point blank range to cue dramatic celebrations in the stands and on the touchline as they booked their place in round two.
A spectacular second half goal from Mesut Ozil helped Germany to a narrow 1-0 victory over Ghana to set up a mouth-watering second round clash with England. Germany, safe in the knowledge that only three points would guarantee a place in round two, began brightly having the majority of possession and building up patiently to efforts on goal. Ghana did begin to threaten on the break though and as the game became stretched, he Black Stars had numerous opportunities to take the lead but seemed to lack composure inside the penalty area. Mesut Ozil had Germany’s best chance of an eventful first half when he broke the offside trap but could only fire a tame effort straight at Ghanaian keeper Richard Kingson.
The first chance of the second half fell to Asamoah Gyan, who was slipped in between the German defence before his poor attempt was comfortable stopped by Manuel Neuer. With time seemingly not on their side, Germany started to push more men forward and it paid dividends when with half an hour left on the clock, Ozil fired his effort from the edge of the area into the top corner to give his side the lead and put the Germans on the brink of the last 16. Ghana rarely threatened the German goal in the closing stages as Germany secured a narrow victory that saw them top Group D. Ghana would progress despite the defeat, much to the delight of the African contingent.
Cahill 69, Holman 73
Serbia surprisingly crashed out of the World Cup after Australia produced a fine display to defeat the European outfit 2-1 in Nelspruit. Serbia would have progressed with a victory over the Socceroos, who still had hopes of reaching the last 16 themselves. The first half saw Serbia dominate the contest with Milos Krasic causing problems throughout down the right flank. Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was in fine form though and he needed to be, as he produced a series of good stops, most notably a world class one handed save to deny Branislav Ivanovic.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Serbia broke the resistance of a determined Australian defence, until the complexion of the game changed dramatically. On 69 minutes, Tim Cahill rose above his marker to produce a trademark header that flew into the bottom corner, giving the Socceroos a shock lead. That lead was remarkably doubled four minutes later when Brett Holman found the bottom corner from all of 25 yards. Serbia pulled a goal back on 84 minutes when a rare Schwarzer error was pounced on by Marko Pantelic to give them hope. Pantelic then had a glorious chance in the dying seconds to complete the comeback but fired over from inside the area and with that see the nation’s dreams blow up in smoke as Australia ran out narrow winners to exit the competition on a high note.