Day 20 World Cup action round-up – African hopes dashed, Brazil suffer shock exit

Day 20 of the tournament saw action resume in spectacular fashion after a two day rest break with tournament favourites Brazil crashing out at the hands of Holland. The sole remaining African side Ghana saw their dreams crushed, coming off second best in a penalty shoot-out with Uruguay.

HOLLAND 2
Melo o.g, 53, Sneijder, 68

BRAZIL 1
Robinho, 10

An inspired second half performance from the flying Dutchmen sent tournament favourites Brazil crashing out of the World Cup with an historic 2-1 victory.

Holland were dealt a severe blow before kick-off when defender Joris Mathijsen sustained an injury during the warm up and was unable to take his place among the starting XI, 36 year-old Andre Oojer drafted in at late notice. His absence proved to be crucial, Brazil taking the lead just 10 minutes in when Robinho darted in behind a static backline before slotting home past Maarten Stekelenburg. Holland were struggling to express themselves, Arjen Robben having little effect in the opening 45 minutes which saw Brazil dominate from start to finish.

An inspired half-time team talk seemed to do the trick as they levelled not long after the break – Julio Cesar attempted to punch Wesley Sneijder’s cross to safety, before it slid off the head of Felipe Melo and into the unguarded net. The circumstances in which they conceded clearly rattled the South Americans and Holland were ahead on 68 minutes, Dirk Kuyt flicking on a Robben corner for Sneidjer to head home. Their task was made even more difficult when Felipe Melo was dismissed having lashed out at Robben. Brazil put all their efforts into a late equaliser but rarely threatened to find one in the closing minutes as the Dutch secured a place in the semi-finals.

URUGUAY 1
Forlan, 55

GHANA 1
Muntari, 45+2

Uruguay won 4-2 on penalties

There is to be no African representative in the semi-finals this year after Uruguay beat Ghana on 4-2 on penalties at Soccer City, Johannesburg.

Ghana looked nervy early on, but with the crowd on their side, finished the first half strongly and took the lead in added time – Sulley Muntari finding the bottom corner having unleashed a fierce left-footed drive from all of 30 yards. Their advantage didn’t last long though, as Uruguayan talisman Diego Forlan struck a deadly free-kick from the right channel that flew across Richard Kingson into the far corner. While Uruguay had resigned themselves to a penalty shoot-out as extra-time drew to a close, Ghana had other ideas and when John Pantsil’s cross caused problems in the Uruguay penalty area, Dominic Adiyiah saw his goal-bound efforts twice cleared off the line by Luis Suarez, the second of which was clearly done with the use of his hands. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot and dismiss the FC Ajax striker for deliberate handball.

Asamoah Gyan remarkably failed to take advantage from the penalty spot, his effort going over off the crossbar, handing Uruguay an unlikely lifeline. Asamoah Gyan showed unbelievable courage to step up first for Ghana in the penalty shoot-out, emphatically converting his spot-kick. However, teammates John Mensah and Adiyiah saw their tame efforts saved by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and Uruguay substitute Sebsastian Abreu showed a cool head to dink the decisive penalty past Richard Kingson and put his side into the semi-finals after a remarkable quarter-final clash.

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