(Results: Slovenia 0-1 England, Algeria 0-1 USA, Ghana 0-1 Germany, Australia 2-1 Serbia)
It was a day of just one goal as England, USA and Germany scored a solitary goal each, though under different circumstances, to progress to the knock-out round. Such was the mystique surrounding this scoreline that Ghana advanced even after losing to the Germans, thereby giving some respite to the African continent. Here are the noteworthy moments of the day…
Hand (anovic) of the day: Samir Handanovic (Slovenia)
Before and after Defoe’s goal, nothing could escape the hands of the Slovenian keeper, as he kept his team in the hunt for the knockout stage. Milner, Gerrard, Terry and Rooney saw their attempts being brilliantly saved by Handanovic and if it was not for him, the scoreline would have given England a massive ego-trip.
Goal of the day: Mesut Ozil (Germany)
After his first match for Germany in South Africa’10, fans wanted their clubs to sign him. After the crucial goal against Ghana that ensured German presence in the knockout round, he became a household name. The World Cup is often a platform for the young and talented players to showcase their potential; Mesut Ozil is doing just that and much more – he is winning hearts. Calmness, technique and creativity, which were the key ingredients of his left-footed strike, make him a very special player.
African respite of the day: Ghana Football Team
With the World Cup being held in Africa for the very first time, it would have been extremely disheartening for the entire continent, if none of their teams had advanced to the next round. Despite losing to Germany, Ghana made it to the knockout round, and this will keep the African spirit intact. An African team’s success is very important to the overall success of the tournament; the better Ghana does from here on, the better would be the atmosphere and crowd support in South Africa. The Black Stars will now face USA, and should back themselves to reach the quarter-finals at least.
Heartbreaker of the day: Landon Donovan (USA)
Slovenia lost to England, but would have still progressed if not for Landon Donovan dramatic 92′ minute goal. The Americans were on their way out, but Donovan turned the tables in breath-taking fashion, showing Slovenians the door and relegating England to second place in the group , thereby setting up a high-profile clash between England and Germany.
Brothers of the day: The Boatengs
Two brothers representing two different countries in a match against each other – it could have been an oxymoron, but after the match between Ghana and Germany, it no longer is. Jerome Boateng lined up for Germany at left-back, while the one-time most hated man in Germany Kevin Prince Boateng started for Ghana in the midfield; and they are indeed brothers!
Star of the day: The Three Lions
After their first two games, the English stars got what they deserved. They were criticized and booed for the lack of intent shown on the pitch. The erstwhile captain was projected as a rebel after an interview wherein he had questioned the coach, whereas the present captain was dismissed as a man who does not command the respect of the dressing room.The stage was set for them to emulate the French, but what one does not realize is that it’s not that simple.
The Three Lions roared again – Milner delivered crosses that would’ve made even Beckham proud, Lampard and Gerrard finally rose to the occasion, the rebel was a monster in defense, and Defoe scored the most important goal of his career. It’s time for the media to rest, and let the team focus on football. After all the Germans are waiting for them.