Senin, 14 Juni 2010

Group F: Champions open with draw, Slovakia held

The defending World Cup winners Italy opened their campaign against Paraguay.

(to be updated after the second game)

Italy 1-1 (0-1) Paraguay
Goals: 0-1 Antolin Alcaraz (39'), 1-1 Daniele de Rossi (63').

Italy were held to a one-all draw by Paraguay in their opening Group F match at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Paraguay are known to close down stronger opponents with their defensive tactic and short passing game.

Paraguay's primary focus was to first not concede a goal, while the Italians initially did venture out to try and score a goal, but one could see that Andrea Pirlo was being missing in the creative department and that the Squadra Azzurra lack a striker who can guarantee goals. And the Italians allowed Paraguay space once in a while to try their luck at scoring a goal. But it was clear from the onset that dead ball situations could decide the game. Paraguay got a free kick from the right in the 39th minute which Antolin Alcaraz headed in with Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele de Rossi around him.

The Italians regrouped after the break and coach Marcello Lippi made some changes to strengthen his side, but he first had to replace his keeper Gianluigi Buffon with Marchetti due to a back injury after the break. Italy looked very one dimensional with no imaginative play. Paraguay nearly went ahead 2-0 as Vera's shot just missed the goal. And like Paraguay Italy would score of a dead ball situation. After a corner Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar ran through under Pepe's corner with Daniele de Rossi putting the ball in from close range. Italy were now again the better side, but didn't really have the chances to take the three points home.

New Zealand 1-1 (0-0) Slovakia
Goals: 0-1 Robert Vittek (50'), 1-1 Winston Reid (90+3').

New Zealand scored a late injury time equaliser to hold debutants Slovakia to a one-all draw in their opening Group F match in Rustenburg. And the Slovaks can only blame themselves for not taking home the three points as they were the more mature team, but they couldn't convert their few good chances.

New Zealand are limited as a team, but the All Whites would fight all the way against a superior opponent who couldn't use this much in the first session. Slovakia scored their first ever World Cup goal in the 50th minute through a Robert Vittek header, but the striker was offside and the goal shouldn't have been given. Slovakia had some half chances to double their lead, but it didn't seem necessary as New Zealand didn't create any chances. But right at the end in the third minute of injury time out of nowhere Winston Reid headed in a cross from Tony Lochhead. New Zealand was celebrating while Slovakia was shocked.

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