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2014 World Cup Roundup: Groups G & H
KingFut.com’s Omar Morsy recaps all the action from Groups G & H of the 2014 World Cup.
Germany 4-0 Portugal
Germany kicked-off their 18th appearance in the World Cup finals (joint-second with Italy, and two behind hosts Brazil) with an emphatic victory over Group G rivals Portugal, to take the top spot in the group. The Germans started the game on the offensive, and Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s careless clearance was almost converted by Khedira, but the Real Madrid midfielder somehow managed to miss an open goal. Nevertheless, Die Mannschaft took the lead in the 12th minute thanks to Thomas Muller’s penalty, which referee Mazic awarded after Gotze was pulled back by full-back Perreira inside the penalty area.
After the opener, Germany further increased the pressure on Portugal’s goal, and despite Gotze’s wastefulness, they managed to double their lead in the 32nd minute when Mats Hummels charged into the Portugal area to guide home a header from team-mate Kroos’ corner. The worst was yet to come for Portugal however, as centre-back Pepe experienced one of his not-uncommon moments of madness; after Muller made a little too much out of Pepe’s trailing arm touching his face, the Real Madrid man inexplicably headbutted his German counterpart as he sat on the ground, causing the referee to promptly brandish the red card.
Just as the first half was drawing to a close, Muller forced the ball past Patricio for his second goal of the game. The second half was less eventful, although Portugal felt they should have had a penalty of their own after Schalke defender Howedes appeared to trip Eder as he ran into the area.
The fourth and final goal came 12 minutes from the final whistle with Muller tapping in the rebound after Patricio failed to catch – or clear – a low cross, as the Bayern Munich midfielder completed the first hat-trick of the tournament.
In the second Group G game, Ghana faced off against the USA, in a game where both teams were hoping to stake their claim for 2nd place in the group. The Western Africans got off to the worst possible start by conceding the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history; Clint Dempsey skipped past defender Boye, and his shot made its way into the back of the net after just 30 seconds.
James Kwesi Appiah’s men enjoyed the majority of possession throughout the game but failed to make a breakthrough until the 80th minute, when Marseille forward Andre Ayew levelled the score with a powerful shot from inside the area. A comeback wasn’t on the cards for Ghana, however, and heartbreak was in store for the Black Stars highest ranked team when youngster John Brooks scored the winner for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men in the 86th minute.
On Tuesday, the last of the first round of group stage matches kicked-off as Africa’s fifth and final representative in Brazil wasted a 1-0 lead at half-time to lose 2-1 to dark horses Belgium. The Desert Foxes took a surprise lead in the 25th minute after Valencia midfielder Sofiane Feghouli won and converted a penalty to send the travelling support into fits of ecstasy.
The Algerians managed to hold the scoreline until late into the second half when substitute Marouane Fellaini got a touch to Kevin De Bruyne’s in-swinging cross and crashed the ball off of the underside of the crossbar and into the helpless Mbolhi’s net. Minutes later, the comeback was complete as Eden Hazard’s smart ball to Mertens sent the Napoli winger through on goal, and he gave the keeper no chance, unleashing a ferocious shot into the back of the net to get Belgium off to a winning start.
Russia 1-1 South Korea
Group H’s second game was assigned the late kick-off spot on Tuesday, and both sides labored to a 1-1 draw that gave neither of them first place in the standings. The South Koreans struck first, when substitute Lee Keun-Ho shot tamely at CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev from 25 yards, who inadvertently fumbled the ball into his own net instead of making an easy catch. It wasn’t Akinfeev’s first error of the game – he almost awarded the opposition two easy rebounds at the start of the second half – but it was by far his gravest, and Russia coach Fabio Capello responded by bringing attacker Alexandr Kerzakhov into the game.
That very substitution bore fruit just a couple of minutes later; quick passing and a slice of good fortune allowed Kerzakhov to slide the ball past Suwon Bluewings ‘keeper Jung Sung-Ryong despite having his back to goal, giving Russia a share of the points and allowing Belgium to remain at the top of the group standings.