South Korea 2 – Togo 1
This match made a strong case for the use of technology for key decisions. Togo looked in sync, South Korea looked out of sorts and then a tackle by the Togo captain had him sent off. It was a card-deserving tackle but I am not sure if it was a case of fouling on a goal-scoring chance. Dicey decision. In the ensuing free-kick Korea scored and looked like a completely different team after that.
Togo, which had taken the lead in the first half through a wonderful goal by Khader, looked out of sorts and considering that they had to play with ten men, and without their captain, it’s no surprise. Korea scored a second through Ahn and though Togo had a few chances here and there, the second half was pretty much all South Korea. The Africans impressed with their speed and skill but I doubt if they’ll progress now–Brazil and Australia loom.
France 0 – Switzerland 0
Missed chances by France and by Switzerland was the story of this match. France, in spite of their stars, could not find the back of the net. The Swiss defence was resolute and the French finishing was poor. It’s hard to see the French win a world cup playing like this. Wiltord was out of sorts, Ribery didn’t want to shoot, Henry missed a couple, it wasn’t the best start to the campaign.
Switzerland will feel confident of progressing now, except that almost half their side was booked, one or two for laughable offences. Good to see the Russian referee so inconsistent.
France has not scored a goal in their last four World Cup (finals) matches. Their last goal in the World Cup came against Brazil in 1998. For a team that has Henry, Zidane, Trezeguet, Saha, Wiltord, and Ribery, that’s not a good sign.
Brazil 1 – Croatia 0
Kaka’s moment of magic is all that separated Brazil from Croatia. The goal was well taken, a left-footed curler that was almost imossible to stop. The Brazilians did create chances but somehow didn’t have the finishing. The Croats were quite a handful and should be quite upbeat about their chances to make it to the second round, though they’ll have to win twice to do it. They were well-organized defensively and created a few close chances. Brazil must be glad to get the full three points but they need more from their lineup to threaten the bigger teams.
Bring on day 6.