World Cup 2006 Group Stage Review – Phase One – Part Two
All 32 teams have played one match each as the World Cup has begun in explosive fashion, but are things going according to plan for the favourites or are the underdogs having a say in proceedings? This is a short round-up of Groups E to H, of the results as they stand after one match.
1. Czech Republic 3pts, 2. Italy 3pts, 3. Ghana 0pts, 4. USA 0pts
The Czech Republic showed they have real dark horse credentials after sweeping aside the USA. Available at 33/1 to win the tournament outright before kick-off and even money to win their first match, the Czechs look to be a team worth following. They took just five minutes to break the deadlock through Jan Koller, who later went off injured, while new Arsenal signing Tomas Rosicky struck on 36 and 76 to seal an emphatic victory.
Notorious slow starters Italy wasted no time themselves as they beat Ghana 2-0. After waves of Italian pressure, Andrea Pirlo finally netted five minutes before half-time for the 1/2 Azzurri. Substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta added a second seven minutes from time.
1. Australia 3pts, 2. Brazil 3pts, 3. Croatia 0pts, 4. Japan 0pts
Japan looked set to beat Australia until a spectacular collapse six minutes from time. Shunsuke Nakamura gave Japan the lead after 26 minutes but two goals from Evertons Tim Cahill after 84 and 89 minutes and a stoppage time goal from John Aloisi gifted the 13/10 Socceroos an unlikely victory.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil looked less than convincing as they beat Croatia 1-0. Kaka scored a spectacular goal a minute before the break but Croatia were funpoker88 guilty of squandering several chances as Carlos Alberto Parreiras side ensured a 2/5 winning bet.
1. South Korea 3pts, 2. France 1pt, 3. Switzerland 1pt, 4. Togo 0pts
South Korea, semi finalists of four years ago, could have been the victims of an opening match upset as unfancied Togo took the lead through Mohamed after 31 minutes. Lee Chun Soo equalised nine minutes into the second half and Ahn Jung Hwan, who famously dumped Italy out of the 2002 World Cup and was then sacked by club employers Perugia, struck the winner on 72 for the 11/10 Koreans.
France continued where they left off four years ago by not scoring any goals as they drew 0-0 with Switzerland. Both sides drew with eachother during qualifying so another stalemate at 9/4 was not a shock result.
1. Spain 3pts, 2. Saudi Arabia 1pt, 3. Tunisa 1pt, 4. Ukraine 0pts
Spain laughed off their underachiever tag by crushing dark horse choice Ukraine 4-0 to send them top of the group after one match. Xabi Alonso opened the scoring after 13 minutes, David Villa netted his first on 17 and converted a penalty three minutes into the second half. Manchester United target Fernando Torres completed the rout nine minutes before the final whistle for the 4/5 Spaniards.
Saudi Arabia and Tunisia fought out a dramatic 2-2 draw although the result will do neither side any favours. Ziad Jaziri fired the Tunisians in front after 23 minutes but outsiders Saudi hit back through Al Khatani after 57 minutes and veteran Sami Al Jaber on 84. With an unlikely victory on the cards, Bolton defender Rahdi Jaidi thundered in a header two minutes into stoppage time to seal an 11/5 draw.