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For the conclusion of the group stage of competition all eyes were on Team USA against a tough German team. With a little luck from Portugal beating Ghana, the Americans are through to the next round. Belgium take the top spot in Group H, predictably, and Algeria move on with a draw against Russia.
Group G: Portugal v Ghana, 2-1
Portugal were a favorite to win this game, but we just never knew what would come out of the team that lost, or at least not as badly as they did, to Germany, going against the team that most predicted would lose to Germany but tied.
Portugal were a long shot to move onto the next round, being back 4 goals based on goal differential, but Cristiano Ronaldo and company were determined to get the win. With close-calls and near-misses from both sides of the pitch during the first half, Portugal would get lucky with a 1-0 lead from a Ghana own-goal at the 30th. It would only take 12 minutes though for the African nation to pull level. Ronaldo finally led up to the hype, and got his first, and only, goal from this World Cup. Not only the game winner, but this would also serve as CR7’s 50th international goal.
Though bittersweet, the win for Portugal would not be enough to move to the next round, with both teams being eliminated from the tournament.
Group G: USA v Germany, 0-1
Dodging a massive bullet, even with a loss to the No. 2 ranked team in the world, and holding them only to one goal with a man-of-the-match worthy Tim Howard, Team USA squeak through to the knockout rounds. This is the first time the Americans have made to the knockout stage in two consecutive World Cup tournaments.
Although not a great outing for Team USA, because no goals were scored, coach Jurgen Klinsmann stated, “We should have created a bit more chances. That's something we have to improve on.”
Group H: Algeria v Russia, 1-1
Though Russia led most of the game with a goal in the 6th minute, Algeria would score at the 60th, and that was all they needed to get to the next round of competition.
Russia won a corner early in the game and striker Alexander Kokorin received the cross and headed it in the back of the net. Russia would control the rest of the half with that goal, and Algeria would go in the locker room understanding if they didn’t make up that goal, they would be headed home. Following a set piece at the 59th though, it would be Algeria’s striker Islam Slimani that would head the ball in the bottom corner.
Algeria would walk out of the group stage in second place, and will face Germany on Monday June 30.
Group H: South Korea v Belgium, 0-1
Goalless for much of the game, and going down to 10 men just before the half, Belgium were able to get a late goal and go undefeated into the knockout stage of competition.
With a blatant shin-stopping foul, Belgium’s Steven Dafour would go off with a red card, giving the competition’s underdogs a more difficult task. With several attempts fired, Jan Vertonghen would finally find the back of the net at the 77th minute, sending South Korea home without any wins in the tournament.
Being touted asBelgium’s ”golden generation," the young team will face Team USA on Tuesday July 1, notes Yahoo Sports.
With the group stage of competition over, we now move into the Round of 16, knockout rounds, to determine who moves on to the quarterfinals. First up on Saturday June 28, Brazil take on an inspired Chile, and an undefeated Columbia take on a Suarez-less Uruguay. The rest of the schedule is as follows:
Sunday June 29 – Netherlands v Mexico, Costa Rica v Greece
Monday June 30 – France v Nigeria, Germany v Algeria
Tuesday July 1 – Argentina v Switzerland, Belgium v USA
Image Credit: INFphoto.com