After Germany set the tone for the tournament on Sunday, another pair of Europe’s big guns took centre stage.
First up were Holland and their group E match against Denmark. After yet another goalless first half, Holland took the lead seconds into the second half, Daniel Agger putting past his own keeper.
Robin van Persie ‘s cross was headed by Simon Poulson onto the back of Agger, hit the post and finished in the back of the Danish net. Holland wrapped the game up with five minutes left. Eljero Elia ran through on goal but his shot hit the post and rolled for Dirk Kuyt to tap home. Nigel de Jong played 88 minutes of the game but was also booked. Another card for him will see him miss Holland’s final group game.
So Holland off to a good start, but what about those other two Group E heavyweights Japan and Cameroon?
Well it was another yawn fest which saw Japan scrape a 1-0 win thanks to a first half goal from Keisuke Honda, who controlled a far post cross superbly before slotting home a left foot finish.
Cameroon seemed to lack the spirit of their previous World Cup campaigns, despite boasting star striker Samuel Eto’o in their ranks and seem to have lost the passion that took them to the quarter finals in 1990 when they narrowly lost 3-2 to England after leading 2-1.
And so to the third game of the day and Group F’s opener. Roque Santa Cruz was named on the bench for Paraguay ahead of their clash with Italy. The holders were looking for a comfortable win but were behind when Antolin Alcaraz headed home in the 38th minute.
The unconvincing holders managed to gain a point when alleged City target Daniele de Rossi prodded home in the 63rd minute after the Paraguay keeper flapped at a corner. Santa was brought on five minutes later but failed to make any real impact in the game as the tournament saw its fourth draw in eleven games.
Tuesday sees the mighty New Zealand taking on Vladimir Weiss’ Slovakia at 12.30, live on the BBC website if you can get away with it, while the afternoon match sees Kolo and Yaya Toure in action for the Ivory Coast as they take on Portugal. Come on Ivory Coast.
And in the evening, Brazil are going to show us exactly how it’s done as they face North Korea. Let’s hope Robinho proves his worth so we can get a good price for him.
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