Saturday, 26 June 2010

Group H - final games

Spain 2 - 1 Chile
Villa 24 R Millar 47
Iniesta 37

Honduras 0 - 0 Switzerland

Another disappointing team bite the dust, and I'm not talking about the Honduras.

It's like my junior school headmaster said in assembly once. I had two pieces of work given to me last week. I accepted Boy A's work because I knew it was his best. I gave Boy B's work back to him to do over, even though it was better than Boy A's work, because I knew it wasn't his best.

He wouldn't have been impressed by Switzerland. If he was running the World Cup, they'd be playing their games again and again until they got them right.

The Honduran team would have got a B plus. Despite being a lesser kind of a team, drawn mainly from domestic teams and Europe's lesser leagues and consisting almost entirely of brothers, they've made the most of their slender resources. They haven't scored, but they've tried to score. They let one in against Chile and two against Spain, but kept out a Swiss team that must have wanted to win. No goals, but a point, and a measure of self respect.

Switzerland, though. Talented players, but none of the virtues that impress headmasters. For the second World Cup in a row. Now go home, and next time try harder.

The real action was in the Chile v Spain game. Chile started really well, but fell behind when their goalkeeper ran out to clear a ball five yards from the byline, and instead of hoofing it over knocked it very precisely to Villa. Seeing the empty goal fifty yards away, Villa chipped it over the rapidly retreating goalkeeper and the covering defender, and was already celebrating by the time the ball crossed the goal line.

Thirteen minutes later Iniesta put in a second, and Chile's Marco Estrada got sent off for bringing down Torres. The replay suggested it was accidental, but sometimes defenders are unlucky.

Two goals and one player down, Chile rallied after the break. They got a goal back, at which point both teams realised that would do, and settled. Because of the extra goals, Switzerland would have needed to score twice, and that didn't seem very likely. And so it proved.

So Spain play Portugal, and Chile play Brazil. Something to look forward to.

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