Quarter-final 1: Brazil / The Netherlands
Soccer fever started on Friday afternoon at 16h00, with a fast-paced match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth. It had us on the edge of our seats (see Match Report in the Guardian).
After the Brazilians scored a goal in the first 10 minutes, the tension on the field increased. Both sides were getting increasingly physical, in that sneaky-yet-blatantly-defiant way that soccer players have of tripping up their opponents, pulling on their shirts, side-swiping them, tackling late and dangerously, and of course flying and landing theatrically at the lightest of touches.
Twits. Don’t they realise that there are CAMERAS EVERYWHERE? It’s about bloomin’ time that cameras are used to identify intentional fouls and unsporting viciousness, in addition to double-checking offsides, handballs, and actual goals! Beautiful game, my foot!
In the second half, the Dutch side suddenly had a surge of energy, and scored two goals. The first of these was an accidental and embarrassing own goal by Felipe Melo. (Oh dear. I wonder whether there’s a ‘witness protection programme’ for famous soccer players who’ve screwed up royally?)
Shortly afterwards, the same Felipe Melo, who knocked down Arjen Robben in his eagerness to get the ball, was seen to stamp viciously and deliberately on Robben’s thigh. In slow-motion replay, from all angles, it was even more blatant. He was rightly sent off in disgrace by the referree.
And not much later, the game was over, 2-1 to the Netherlands, and the Dutch fans went crazy! Well, even crazier than they usually are! 😀
Quarter-final 2: Ghana / Uruguay
After the function at the Castle on Friday evening, we made it to Mum’s at 20h30 with seconds to spare for a nail-biting and thumb-chewing hyper-tense match between Uruguay and Ghana. (see Match report in the Guardian). Ghana was the last surviving representative of the African continent in the World Cup, and all our hopes, and the hopes of many in South Africa, were on them to make it through to the Semi-Final.
Right at the end of the first half, seconds before the whistle, Ghana scored a fabulous goal to make it 1-0. The stadium erupted! In the 55th minute, Diego Forlán aimed a perfect shot into the back of the net. The score was still 1-1 at the end of the 90 minutes plus additional time, and remained unresolved at the end of the extended 30 minutes.
It culminated in a tummy-knotting penalty shoot-out with the sole surviving African team losing 2-4 against Uruguay! Africa was now officially out of the World Cup!
Quarter-final 3: Germany / Argentina
Germany was off like a bullet train, scoring a goal in the third minute, with Muller gently but effectively heading in a ball from Schweinsteiger. A shell-shocked Argentina took a while to work up their fighting spirit, but managed no equalising goal before the whistle signalled the end of the first half.
Argentina played a lot better in the second half, but even a flurry of defensive activity right in front of their own goal wasn’t able to prevent Miroslav Klose just tapping a rolling ball into the net in the 68th minute. A mere six minutes later, Germany scored their third goal. And in the last minutes before the end of the game, Klose landed another ball in the net!
4-0 to Germany!!
WE WON! WE WON!! WE WON!!!
(See Match Report in the Guardian.)
Loudly cheering, we performed a little war-dance of triumph in Mom’s lounge.
Quarter-final 4: Spain / Paraguay
The 20h30 match between Spain and Paraguay at Ellis Park in Johannesburg turned into another fantastic and thrilling encounter (see Match Report in the Guardian).
Shortly before half-time, Paraguay’s Valdez landed a ball in the net, but he was judged offside. In the second half, Paraguay was granted a penalty kick, but the ball was caught neatly by the Spanish goalkeeper. One minute later, at the opposite end of the field, Spain was granted a penalty kick too!
Alonso scored, but the referree declared that the kick had to be re-taken, because half the Spanish team had encroached into the penalty area just an instant too early. Alonso nervously aimed another kick at goal, but this time the Paraguayan keeper palmed it away from danger. The replays of the Paraguay penalty made it clear that the Spanish players had also encroached on the penalty area before the ball had been struck – meaning that that that penalty too should have been retaken. Ah well… too late now.
Right near the end, Spain scraped to a 1-0 victory thanks to some excellent teamwork by Iniesta, Pedro and David Villa, who earned the final glory of scoring the goal!
Now we are looking forward to the two semi-finals:
- The Netherlands against Uruguay on Tuesday, 06 July at 20h30, played at the Cape Town Stadium
- Germany against Spain on Wednesday, 07 July at 20h30, played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban
I wonder who will make it through to the Final on Sunday evening? Will it be Germany against The Netherlands???