Finally, it was England’s turn to take centre stage in South Africa but before we get to that, there were the two games in Group B.
Firstly, South Korea became the tournament’s top scorers when they beat Greece 2-0. A first half strike from Lee Jung-Soo after just seven minutes was doubled by Ji Sung-Park in the 57th minute to send South Korea top of the group.
In the group’s other game, Gabriel Heinze scored a bullet of a header for Argentina as Diego Maradona’s team beat Nigeria 1-0. Lionel Messi was in fantastic form but was unable to beat the even better Vincent Enyeama, who produced a series of excellent saves to keep out the Argies.
Carlos Tevez played the full 90 minutes but he too was unable to beat Enyeama when he saw his curling shot brilliantly tipped away. Supposed City target Angel Di Maria played 85 minutes before being substituted and giving his replacement an affectionate kiss on the cheek. Nice.
And so to England v USA, conveniently starting just as Doctor Who finished, so a huge round of applause for the TV schedulers there. City target James Milner started for England, as did Emile Heskey up front.
And it was Heskey who laid on the tournament’s quickest goal so far, playing a neat pass to Steven Gerrard who took one touch before flicking the ball beyond Tim Howard for the opener. Heskey was playing brilliantly when he wasn’t being caught offside but it was Aaron Lennon who could have doubled England’s lead but decided to pass rather than shoot.
But England’s dream start was dashed by west Ham keeper Robert Green, who allowed Clint Dempsey’s shot to roll from his grasp and into the net for the equaliser. Green later made up for his error when he palmed a Jozy Altidore shot onto the post and Heskey could have given England the lead but shot straight at Howard.
Shaun Wright-Phillips replaced Milner after 30 minutes following Milner’s booking but, despite some good runs, failed to provide a spark for the Three Lions.
So the game ended in a draw between the two favourites to qualify from the group and England now have to wait until next Friday night before playing again against Algeria, while the USA take on Slovenia.
Sunday sees Group C completing their first games when Algeria and Slovenia meet in the day’s first game, while Group D opens with Serbia v Ghana and Jerome Boateng’s Germany take on the Socceroos of Australia.
Should be another good day of football.
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