As the St George flags droop rejectedly outside Tenerife bars, other nations are pushing on towards the next stage, but are the referees starting to lose their grip?
Ghana 1, Australia 1
Australians wouldn’t give a 4 X for most World Cup referees, in 2006 they were hard done by and it’s happening again. Hopes were high with Harry Kewell in the line up and after 11 minutes they were ahead via a Holman free kick that caught the keeper out with a squirming bounce. The joy was short lived when a Mensah shot hit Kewell on the arm, the referee ruled that it was a deliberate hand ball and sent the former Liverpool player off. Gyan stepped up and converted the penalty to level the score.
The Aussies showed great character to come back fighting in the second half, Chipperfield saw his header clear the bar and Wilkshire forced a good save out of Kingson. Ghana couldn’t turn the screw despite a late assault that featured Mensah heading over and Abeyie bringing a one handed save from Schwarzer.
Cameroon 1, Denmark 2
And so we say farewell to the African Lions of Cameroon. Despite taking an early lead through Samuel Etoo, pouncing on a defensive howler from Poulson. The Danes responded well and a defence splitting pass from Kjaer opened it up for Bendtner to nip in and equalise aftet just 15 minutes. Denmark grew stronger with poor marking the order of the day on both sides. Tomasson had his goal bound shot blocked by Song but at the other end Etoo picked up a loose ball only to strike it against the post.
The winning goal came 15 minutes into the second half and was a worthy one. Rommedahl made a clever run down the right and cut in to beat the keeper and score. Webo and Makoun wasted late chances for Cameroon but at least in this game they gave a good account of themselves.
Japan 0, Holland 1
Still not firing on all cylinders, Holland ground out their second win, although Japan kept snapping at them all game. Kuyt and Van der Vaart explored the wings for Holland and Sneijder saw an early shot go over the bar. Matsui controlled much of the game for Japan but their end product let them down.
Into the second hald and Holland grabbed the decisive goal, Sneijder smashed in a curling shot after 52 minutes but the Dutch sat back a little after that. Nakamura was denied by a hooked clearance from Van Persie and Nagatomo made a confident penalty appeal after De Jong floored him. Holland did just enough and look a good bet for the quarter finals.