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Saturday, June 19, 2010


Slovenia went two up against USA after Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic goals, but Landon Donovan got one back before Michael Bradley rescued a point. Maurice Edu looked to have scored a winner for the Americans but it was controversially disallowed.

It leaves all to play for in Group C going into the final round of matches. There was a very early stoppage when Clint Dempsey caught Ljubijankic with an elbow to the head as the pair challenged for a high ball near the halfway line. The Genk striker was fine to continue and Malian referee Koman Coulibaly opted to take no action against Dempsey.
Birsa created the first chance with a whipped cross from the right which Milivoje Novakovic failed to connect with on the volley, but the classy Slovenia number 10 took charge himself after 12 minutes. He was allowed to turn and take stock before curling a shot past the helpless Tim Howard from 25 yards, with no American defender going to close him down.

Francisco Torres tested Handanovic with a left-foot free-kick from a wide angle, with the Udinese goalkeeper probably expecting a ball into the box rather than a cross.

It lifted the US, who had Robbie Findley booked for a handball in the Slovenia box which ruled him out of the final group match against Algeria, and Slovenia full-back Miso Brecko had to get a vital touch to deny Donovan a far-post tap-in after a flowing move involving Altidore, Findley and Dempsey.
But in a flash Bob Bradley's men were 2-0 down as Novakovic slotted a pass through to strike partner Ljubijankic, who beat the offside trap and calmly rolled a right-foot shot under Howard. The US coach responded by bringing on Rangers midfielder Edu for Torres and Benny Feilhaber for Findley at the start of the second half.
Within three minutes of the restart the Americans had halved the deficit when right-back Steve Cherundolo's ball down the flank evaded Bostjan Cesar and Los Angeles Galaxy star Donovan raced into the box at an angle before drilling the ball hard and high past Handanovic at his near post.
Marko Suler then injured himself as he climbed over Altidore and from the resultant free-kick Dempsey's glancing header from Donovan's inswinging ball was just wide. Howard then had to claw away a Birsa free-kick as Suler threatened to head it home and Suler was then involved at the other end to tackle Altidore after the former Hull loanee looked set to get clear of him just before the hour mark.

The game was now evenly poised and after Suler manhandled Altidore once too often for the referee's liking and was booked, the burly striker fired a shot straight at Handanovic. Andraz Kirm joined Suler in the book for going in late on Cherundolo and so too did Bojan Jokic for a clumsy foul on Donovan.
Bradley's final change was to bring on forward Herculez Gomez for defender Oguchi Onyewu as the US pressed for the equaliser - and it was the coach's son who got it. Altidore climbed high to nod down a long ball into the box and Bradley junior sprinted into the box to fire past Handanovic and send the majority of the Ellis Park crowd into hysterics with eight minutes to go.

They thought they had a winner when Edu turned in Donovan's free-kick but the referee disallowed it, apparently seeing a tug in the box although both sides appeared equally guilty of that. Slovenia pushed forward for the glory goal and Aleksandar Radosavljevic forced an excellent parry from Howard from 25 yards as time ticked away.

"It was, at times, like anything except a football match at both ends of the field. The penalty boxes looked like wrestling rings. Everything was going on in there and surprisingly it all, somehow, went unpunished. To be fair, this is a game nobody deserves to lose"

Man of the Match: - Michael Bradley. He may not have had the same impact in the first half, but the son of coach Bob was a key part of the USA's turnaround. It was fitting that he was the one to apply the finishing touch to grab the equaliser.

Slovenia verdict: A wonderful opening half with attacking football, neat moves and two goals. The pace of the game eventually caught up with the minnows, though, and when USA hit one back, they sat back and invited pressure. Luckily for them, the referee ruled Maurice Edu's goal out, for reasons best known to himself.

USA verdict: Awful in the first half, but whatever Bob Bradley said at half-time seemed to work and their attacking ambition was in full view. Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan as a front three can rattle anybody on their day, but questions will be asked where they were in the first 45 minutes?


There was no happy birthday for Fabio Capello in Cape Town as England were booed by their own supporters following a dreadful performance against Algeria that leaves them needing to beat Slovenia to guarantee their World Cup progress.

Although they exerted some late pressure, if Capello's men had denied Algeria a point it would have been a massive injustice on a night when Franz Beckenbauer's assessment of England being a "kick and rush'' team was proved to be false. They weren't as good as that.
The maths are now quite simple. Beat Slovenia - when they will be without the suspended Jamie Carragher - in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and England have scrambled their way into the second round. Fail and in all probability they will go home.
Having told the world he would not confirm the identity of his chosen goalkeeper until two hours before kick-off, it transpired Capello's mind had been made up by the final training session on Thursday night.

A couple of mistakes from Rob Green were enough to convince Capello the West Ham man could not be trusted, so David James was in for his first competitive start in 15 months.
Really though it was supposed to be a watching brief for the man who stood between the sticks. Against a side ranked 30th in the world, and from a continent that has never beaten England, in front of Prince William, the Three Lions were supposed to deliver a performance fit for a king.

How wrong that assumption was. England's lack of guile was embarrassing at times and it took Capello's men until three minutes before the break to retain possession for any decent period. Every time they got hold of the ball, it seemed England were in a rush to get rid of it, or at least try to force something to happen, which ultimately amounted to the same thing.

Wayne Rooney did not appear fit and he certainly endured a frustrating time of it. Penalised after two muscular tangles, England's talisman eventually managed a shot when the opening period was in its death throes. Like so many England efforts, it was struck from the edge of the area and posed little threat. The best chance fell Frank Lampard's way after Aaron Lennon's cross had been half-cleared by Rafik Halliche but it was saved. For the first hour Algeria were the more inventive side. They were quicker, slicker, possessed greater imagination and incisive movement. In short, they were superior in all the technical aspects of the game.

After waiting so long for Gareth Barry to recover from his ankle injury, the England boss watched his preferred holding midfielder lose the ball to Karim Matmour.
Possession was quickly transferred upfield and after cutting inside Glen Johnson, Karim Ziani - a menace throughout - drilled his shot into the side-netting rather than testing James fully with the controversial Jabulani ball Capello hates so much. The Italian could not have been happy, and the England supporters certainly weren't. And the second half did not start any better.
Steven Gerrard and Lampard both wasted possession after finding themselves in decent positions, while at the other end Carragher stuck out an arm to deny Hassan Yebda a chance to race into the box and was booked.

The yellow card had additional significance and means Capello must either turn to Matthew Upson for next Wednesday's encounter with unbeaten Slovenia, or hand Michael Dawson his debut.
Finally England's fitness was allowing them to dictate the game. Yet old failings remain and the introduction of additional pace in the form of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jermain Defoe could not rectify them.

After 83 minutes of fruitless toil, Capello turned to Peter Crouch. Back to the long ball, but even that did not work and Algeria stood firm, even coming close to winning the game themselves moments from the end.
Belhadj whipped a dangerous ball into the box, but with three Algerian players loitering with intent at the back post, James clung onto the ball like his life depended on it.

At the end of the day, the 3 Lions went to bed hungry. They just couldn't sink it in. They had no teeths.

Man of the Match: - Nadir Belhadj. He showed plenty of acceleration throughout and was always looking to get the cross in, causing Glen Johnson plenty of problems. In defence, he also made a crucial interception when Emile Heskey was through on goal. Karim Ziani was also impressive early on, pulling the strings in midfield, although he faded as the game went on.
England verdict: Completely outfought and constantly outnumbered in the middle of the field, England always seemed hurried and never had the opportunity to build their self-confidence. As the game went on, their passing grew steadily worse and worse. Despite having suffered similar problems using a 4-4-2 against a 4-5-1 in the first half of the warm-up match against Japan, it was surprising to see Fabio Capello so reluctant to bring on someone like Joe Cole or even Michael Carrick to help assert some control.
Algeria verdict: From the off, they looked more composed in possession and comfortable with their gameplan, restricting the space for England in midfield by playing a 4-5-1 formation and breaking at pace. While they never looked likely to win it, they will feel they have carried out their plans to perfection and were the better team on the night.

England were abjects; useless & hopeless
There has been a sequence of shocks in South Africa in recent days and now England have provided an addition to the catalogue.

They were shockingly bad.

Unlike Spain and Germany, they remain unbeaten but, besides the assured return of Gareth Barry, there are few other positives.
At least, it might be said, they are not France. But, cross-channel gloating apart, they failed to beat an Algeria side containing 10 French-born players who, in most cases, were never likely to be capped by Les Bleus - they were more their G team than their B team.

"We've got no excuses," said Steven Gerrard, who tends to be more candid than most, including his manager. "Not good enough." It was honest, but an understatement nonetheless. Start with 'abject' and 'abominable' and select any number of similarly disparaging adjectives from the dictionary - they would all be accurate.
There were misplaced passes, misjudged touches and misguided ideas. Too much was missing: invention, incision, inspiration.
Beat Slovenia and they are through, probably undeservedly. The backdrop may provide a consolation but Cape Town, for England, was the Cape of No Hope.

Beat Slovenia? Fat hopes ..... hahahaha!!!

From what we had witness up2date >>> This is without a doubt the worst England team of the past half century.

Fark Rooney, fark Gerrard & most of all fark Capello :D


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