World Cup: Italy and Ghana Into Last 16 (C)

Italy and Ghana went into their final group games today knowing that by avoiding defeat they’d be safely through to the second round, and that’s exactly what happened. A late Saudi Arabia red card and a trio of Italian goals in Sochi saw Italy top Group C, while Ghana and Wales shared four goals in the first half for an entertaining draw.

Two changes for Ghana from the draw against Italy, with Jordan Ayew and Nana Asare in the starting XI while Jordan’s older brother André made his 100th appearance for the side. Just the one change for Wales from their win over Saudi Arabia as Joe Ledley replaced Hal Robson-Kanu.

Chesterfield’s 21-year old striker Owen Drake® fired Wales ahead in the 7th minute, when he got on the end of Aaron Ramsey’s flighted free-kick into the box. With time to bring the ball down and set himself, Drake fired home from close range for one-nil.

The lead lasted just four minutes until Kamal Isaah got on the end of Asante’s ball across the six-yard after a run down the right. Isaah scoring his first senior goal for his country, out-muscling Adam Matthews in the chase to get to the cross first. A third goal came before the quarter-hour mark as Drake sent Collison’s cross past Larsen Kwarasey.

A fiesty period followed with the Slovakian referee showing four yellow cards in a twelve minute period, before Jordan Ayew fired home an equaliser. A drop of the shoulder was enough to evade the attentions of Ashley Williams, and Ayew got on the end of Cofie’s through-ball before slotting past Hennessey.

Ghana were happy with the draw which puts them into the second round. They’ll play the winners of Group D at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (3)
                        GHANA 2-2 WALES
                     Isaah 11     Drake 7, 14
                    J.Ayew 36

                       Mensah     Drake
                                  Ramsey
                                  Turner
                                  Williams


Just one change for Italy as they looked to win the group in Moscow today: Giuseppe Rossi started up-top replacing Gianluca Capriari. Saudi Arabia also made a single change hoping to avoid a third defeat in three games: Hadi Saleh came in for Majid Al-Ibidan.

Fernando Forestieri scored his third goal of the tournament inside ten minutes to put Italy in front. Claudio Marchisio did all the hard work down the left, giving Ali Barnawi a torrid time before crossing where the Juventus midfielder met it at the far post with a superb diving head for 1-0.

Saudi Arabia were back on level terms in the 38th minute when Astori headed away an Al-Dosari corner, but only as far as Al-Mutairi who found Al-Dosari still out wide. The ball was fired into the six-yard box where Saleh Al-Enazi beat his marker to the ball and slammed home past Singu.

Muhand Autef picked-up a booking ten minutes after half-time and on the hour Italy went back in front. Nocerino intercepted in the centre circle and played it forward to Giuseppe Rossi. With options ahead of him, he turned Ali Barnawi – on a yellow – inside out before lashing a low shot home off the post.

With three minutes left, Autef was shown the fifth red card of the tournament when he earned a second yellow after bundling over Marchisio as Italy broke on a swift counter-attack, and Italy made the numerical advantage count shortly after as Alessandro Florenzi was free to head home Giovinco’s corner for 3-1.

Three points wins the group for Italy. They’ll play the Group D runners-up in Volgograd.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (3)
                 SAUDI ARABIA 1-3 ITALY
                  Al-Enazi 38     Forestieri 10
               Autef s/off 87     Rossi 61
                                  Florenzi 90

                      Barnawi
                        Autef

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World Cup Group C: Matchday Two Review

After 22 matches at the World Cup we still don’t have a team mathematically confirmed in the last sixteen, though we have lost a second side in Saudi Arabia who now cannot make the knockout stages after defeat by Wales today in Samara. Top two Italy and Ghana drew 2-2.

Two changes for Wales with Adam Matthews and Hal Robson-Kanu replacing Gareth Owen and Joe Ledly faced an unchanged Saudi Arabian side, and it was the former who opened the scoring with half-hour played. In a game of few chances, Hal Robson-Kanu got on the end of a Gareth Bale cross to volley home from close range.

Within ten minutes, Wales had doubled their lead. Jack Collison fed the ball to Bale who jinked his way out wide, leaving the Saudi midfield in his wake. Bale crossed low from the left and Collison met it first-time around the penalty spot to drill Wales two-up.

A pair of late yellow cards for Saudi Arabia raised the tension as they pushed hard to get something out of the game, but Wales held on and now know that a win against Ghana on Wednesday will see them make the last sixteen.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (2)
                 SAUDI ARABIA 0-2 WALES
                                  Robson-Kanu 30
                                  Collison 39
                 
                    Al-Dosari     Taylor
                        Autef


Italy were stunned by a double body-blow right at the end of the first-half as Ghana stormed into a two-nil lead at the break at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, but fought back in a match they otherwise dominated to rescue a point and stay top of Group C.

The 2014 runners-up had a vast amount of shots, but wayward finishing was almost their downfall as Ghana went ahead through Waris Majeed nineteen seconds into first-half stoppage time. Somehow he got ahead of three Italian defenders to poke home André Ayew’s cross at the near post.

112 seconds later it was two-nil when Ayew’s through-ball to Majeed beat the offside trap and the Pescara striker outpaced Bonucci before bending a low drive around Sirigu with 47:07 showing on the clock.

Italy came out swinging after the break and had a goal back just 41 seconds from the restart through Gianluca Caprari. The Arsenal man collected Faraoni’s ball down the right-hand side of the box before cutting in and firing past Larsen. Provider turned scorer midway through the second-half when Marco Faraoni intercepted a wayward Ayew pass, brought the ball forward 30 yards then bent a low shot home for an equaliser and his first international goal.

Florenzi and Marchisio both hit the bar within four minutes of each other, but a third goal wasn’t coming for the Italians. They stay top of Group C on goal difference, and avoiding defeat against Saudi Arabia will see them safely through to the knockout stages.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C (2)
                        ITALY 2-2 GHANA
                   Caprari 46     Majeed 45+1, 45+3
                   Faraoni 63
                    
                     Nocerino     Boateng
                                  Ayew

World Cup, Day Three: Ghana 2-1 S.Arabia (C)

English referee Tom Singleton stole the limelight in tonight’s Group C match when he pointed to the penalty spot twice for Saudi Arabia in the final five minutes, but Ghana held their nerve and ran out 2-1 winners in a fiesty affair in St. Petersburg.

Saudi Arabia had the better of the opening exchanges, hitting the underside of the crossbar after eighteen minutes when Abdullah Alhafith’s downward header at a corner bounced up off the turf and hit the woodwork before being spooned over the top during the following scramble.

Five minutes later, Saudi Arabia had another gilt-edged chance when centre-back Abdulellah Majraski found himself in the final third and was put clean-through by Majed Al-Dosari, but his fierce drive flashed inches wide.

Ten minutes before the break, Ghana took the lead against the run of play. Samuel Inkoom’s switched the ball from the right to the opposite flank where Waris Majeed had escaped the attention of the Saudi defence. He had time to come inside and drill a low shot home from the edge of the box.

The goal lifted Ghana and they had the lion’s share of possession and chances for the next half-hour. In the 66th minute Kojo Asamoah headed a corner against the bar and Isaac Vorsah missed a golden opportunity to make it two-nil when he screwed an effort wide in the scramble.

On 71 minutes, they found a second. David Addy chipped a long ball forwards to the penalty arc for Uriah Asante who took a touch to bring the ball down before smashing a shot into the top right past Hussein Minae.

In the final five minutes, controversy struck. Hattan Autef was adjudged to have cleanly won the ball and with the Ghana defence expecting a foul he played it into Ipswich striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi who was clattered by Jonathan Mensah inside the box, and Singleton pointed to the spot.

Al-Sahlawi stepped-up to take it himself, sending it to Larsen’s left but the Ghanaian ‘keeper dived the same way and pushed it round the post with a fine save. The resulting corner was only half-cleared and as Al-Dosari went for a header, he was barged in the back by Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Singleton pointed to the spot a second time, and Bader Al-Mubarak drilled the penalty into the bottom right to pull a goal back for Saudi Arabia. The remaining four minutes and lengthy stoppage time saw sides exchange bookings, but Ghana held on for the win.

On Friday, Ghana face Italy while Saudi Arabia play Wales.


                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP C
                        GHANA 2-1 SAUDI ARABIA
                    Majeed 36     Al-Mubarak 86 pen
                    Asante 71     (Al-Sahlawi m/pen 85)

                       Inkoom     Al-Dosari
                      Boateng     Al-Subiani

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FIFA World Cup 2014: Group F, Matchday 3

worldcup_header_matchday3_f

Saudi Arabia and Italy meet knowing that the winner of their tie will go through, while Chile will be looking to beat Ghana in order to secure their progress regardless of the result in the other game.

If Chile draw then they’ll need a three-goal Italian win in order to sneak through on goals scored. Ghana can qualify with a win if either Saudi Arabia win too, or Italy win with a four-goal swing between the two games.

Odds: Chile 6-4F v. Ghana 13-8 (Draw 2-1)
Odds: Saudi Arabia 13-2 v. Italy 2-5F (Draw 11-4)

Timeline:

    • 13′ CHI 0-1 GHA: Asamoah doesn’t give up on what looks like a lost cause, keeping the ball in play at the goal-line and picking out Kevin-Prince Boateng in the six-yard box to give Ghana the lead.
    • 18′ SAU 0-0 ITA: Abdullah Alhafith nicks the ball from Mario Balotelli in the Saudi penalty area and Balotelli goes down in a heap. No nonsense from the English referee who cautions the Italian for the dive. He’ll be suspended for the Second Round if they go through.
    • 24′ SAU 0-1 ITA: There’s a loose ball in the penalty area after Giovinco has an effort blocked, it’s not cleared before Mario Balotelli can swivel and prod it home from ten yards out.
    • 27′ SAU 0-2 ITA: A long throw causes panic in the Saudi box who fluff a clearance. Chiellini fires a cross right across the goal area, Marchisio has his flick towards goal palmed away but Fernando Forestieri is on hand to slam home the rebound.
    • 37′ CHI 1-1 GHA: There’s a fantastic equaliser for Chile through Alexis Sánchez who sells Nuhu a dummy, turning him one way then the other, before firing high past Kwarasey from ten yards out.
    • 42′ CHI 2-1 GHA: Isaac Vorsah is penalised for handball at a corner by the Slovenian referee. Up steps Arturo Vidal who smashes the penalty the penalty into the bottom corner.
    • HT: Chile 2-1 Ghana, Saudi Arabia 0-2 Italy. CHI and ITA qualifying.
    • 49′ CHI 2-2 GHA: Ghana equalise with a fantastic counter-attacking goal five minutes after the break. Derek Boateng wins the ball from Sánchez and sets Absul Majeed Waris away down the left wing. The half-time sub sends a great cross over for Jordan Ayew to smash home a the far post.
    • 71′ CHI 2-3 GHA: It’s another breakaway on the counter for Ghana. From their own six-yard box, the ball goes forwards to André Ayew who bursts up the left before picking out Jordan Ayew with a great cross that he turns home and puts Ghana in front. They need a third Italian goal though.
    • 75′ CHI 2-3 GHA: There’s a caution for Carlos Carmona that will rule him out of the Second Round if Chile can force an equaliser.
    • 87′ SAU 0-3 ITA: Giovinco plays a long free-kick forwards into the box and Ignazio Abate gets on the end with a fine header to score his second-ever international goal. Great news for Chile who have whatever’s left to grab an equaliser against Ghana.
    • 90′ CHI 3-3 GHA: What a strike! We had late drama in Group D yesterday with USA going through on a goal 2:32 into stoppage time, but this just steals its thunder. Carmona is unchallenged as he heads a Ghanaian goal-kick back up-field towards Humberto Suazo. He plays a one-two with Campos Toro before smashing it home from 20 yards out. There’s 92:36 on the clock!

Italy win the group and will play Netherlands. Chile sneak through and will face Norway.

groupstagefinal_f_540

Saudi Arabia 0-0 Ghana GROUP F (Match #29)

worldcup_header_29_saudiarabia-ghana

Saudi Arabia have gone top of Group F after an entertaining 0-0 draw (honest!) with Ghana, knowing a point against Italy next Thursday will see them progress through to the last sixteen for the first time since 1994.

Yaser Al-Qhatani twice came close for the Asian side, but it was a day where goalkeepers shone brightest, Larsen Kwarasey making two fine point-blank saves to keep a clean sheet.

Ghana’s PSV Eindhoven centre-back Isaac Vorsah won the man-of-the-match award for his performance,  while Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was cautioned early on and will be suspended for the Italy clash.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014
                       MATCH 29: GROUP F

                 SAUDI ARABIA 0-0 GHANA

                         Belo Horizonte

worldcup_lineup_29_saudiarabia-ghana

worldcup_stats_29_saudiarabia-ghana

GROUP F          P  W  D  L  F  A  GD  Pts
1. Saudi Arabia  2  1  1  0  2  0  +2   4
2. Italy         2  1  0  1  4  3  +1   3
3. Chile         2  1  0  1  3  4  -1   3
4. Ghana         2  0  1  1  0  2  -2   1

Chile 0-2 Saudi Arabia GROUP F (Match #10)

worldcup_header_10_chile-saudiarabia

Saudi Arabia got their Group F campaign off to a winning start thanks to a second-half brace from Yaser Al-Qahtani, who became the eighth player of the tournament to score more than one goal in a single game.

Chile arguably had the better of the game, save for their inability to test Humood Al-Khames in goal. Alexis Sánchez hit the bar when he met Arturo Vidal’s cross on the half-volley 20 yards out, but couldn’t hit the target until late in the game.

The opening goal came in route one fashion ten minutes after the break. Saudi captain Abdoh Autef launched a long ball down the right wing for Al-Qahtani to chase. Free of any marker, he took the ball down the right before cutting inside and squeezing the ball home from a tight angle, beating Bravo at his near post.

With quarter of an hour to go, Vidal had his free-kick pushed on to the post, and a fine save was rewarded almost immediately when Autef picked-out Malik Mouath on the right. His cross was met with a thumping volley at the near post by Al-Qahtani to seal it.

Ghana play Italy in tomorrow’s Group F match in the Brazilian capital.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014
                       MATCH 10: GROUP F

                        CHILE 0-2 SAUDI ARABIA
                                  Al-Qahtani 55, 77

                            Salvador

worldcup_lineup_10_chile-saudiarabia

worldcup_stats_10_chile-saudiarabia

worldcup_goal_10_chile-saudiarabia_goals_th

GROUP F          P  W  D  L  F  A  GD  Pts
1. Saudi Arabia  1  1  0  0  2  0  +2   3
2. Ghana         0  0  0  0  0  0  +0   0
=. Italy         0  0  0  0  0  0  +0   0
4. Chile         1  0  0  1  0  2  -2   0