De Futebol

Portugal wore the choke collar in the dreaded PK shootout. Chile won this sucker 3-0 to advance to the finals of the Confederations Cup.

The Guradian:” In his pre-match press conference the Chile manager, Juan Antonio Pizzi, predicted “it is going to be a beautiful semi-final”. He was right. Breathtaking attack and staunch defence failed to separate Chile and Portugal over 120 minutes before Claudio Bravo saved three penalties to send the South American champions into the Confederations Cup final.

This was a match between ascendant football powers. Before 2015, neither Portugal nor Chile had won a major international competition. In the 18 months that followed, Portugal won the European Championship in Paris and La Roja twice won Conmebol’s Copa América. For both sides, Russia 2017 was a debut at this peculiar World Cup warm-up event and each manager had spoken of a desire to win the often-derided tournament.

Within six minutes, it was evident that it would be an enthralling end-to-end encounter. A stunning pass from Alexis Sánchez found Eduardo Vargas alone in the penalty box, perhaps marginally offside, only for Rui Patrício to make an exceptional save. Moments later Cristiano Ronaldo burst down the left flank and placed a perfectly weighted long pass towards André Silva, who hit an easy opportunity straight at Bravo.

While the attacking manoeuvres continued with regularity – there were collectively almost a dozen attempts in the first half – it would be the defensive units from each team that entered the dressing rooms feeling enthused. Neither continental champion was able to break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes, with Southampton’s Portuguese right-back Cédric looking particularly comfortable against Sánchez. A rumoured move to Manchester City might have been on the Arsenal man’s mind, although on Tuesday the Chile coach Pizzi denied that Sánchez is unsettled.

The second half began in much the same manner – marauding moves forward from both sides with little end-product. Arturo Vidal outjumped Benfica’s Eliseu but sent his header into the stands, while Vargas directed an exquisite rotating bicycle kick into the outstretched gloves of a diving Patrício. Even the unflappable Ronaldo, who had been named man of the match in all three of his appearances, sent a free-kick wide in the 65th minute.

The lack of goals did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 40,855 crowd, who filled the 2013-constructed Kazan Arena close to capacity. After the group stage was played in front of half-empty stadiums, complemented by suspiciously optimistic attendance figures, the large number comes as welcome relief for tournament organisers. Chilean fans, who have travelled to Russia in large numbers, were in full voice throughout the evening.

As the scoreless game moved to extra time, Portugal began to build pressure against an obviously tiring Chile. Yet the South American champions still found attacking opportunities, and Sánchez nodded just wide from Mauricio Isla’s cross early in the additional minutes. The fatigue of three group matches in a week increasingly troubled both teams and chances were sparse as the clock ticked towards a penalty shootout. Late excitement came when Chile twice hit posts in the 118th minute but Portugal held on for spot-kicks.

Having won the 2015 and 2016 Copa América on penalties, Chile were feeling confident as Vidal calmly converted the opener. Bravo then saved attempts from Ricardo Quaresma, João Moutinho and Nani to secure his team a place in the final against either Germany or Mexico.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/28/portugal-chile-confederations-cup-semi-final-match-report

De Futebol

Germany blew out Cameroon 3-1 to advance to the semifinals of the Federations Cup. The Germans will battle Mexico.

The Daily Mail:” t was a night which demonstrated to the watching England manager Gareth Southgate that the next generations of Germans are something to worry about, as the current group.

But it will be best remembered for video assisted refereeing causing an episode of mind-bending confusion, to which there was still no definitive answer as the teams took their leave of the stadium on Sunday night.

Referee Wilmas Roldan appeared to have allowed Cameroon’s Ernest Mabouka to escape without caution for bringing his foot down Emre Can’s thigh as they challenged for a ball five feet from the ground, just beyond the hour mark.

The VAR booth then summoned him over – seemingly to consider a punishment. The Colombian promptly returned to the field to dismiss Sebastien Siani instead.

Ironic applause and then anger from Siani gave way to pandemonium before Roldan was called back to the video monitors, returning to the field a second time to dismiss Mabouka and spare Siani.

‘I saw a red, then a yellow, then red, so don’t ask me what happens,’ said the baffled Cameroon manager Hugo Broos.

Roldan was wrong twice. Mabouka’s challenge was neither reckless nor violent, as Germany manager Joachim Low admitted after a win which makes him the first international manager to complete 100 victories, in his 150th game at the helm.

‘Can said he had been touched but he didn’t have the impression of a foul committed,’ said Low.

‘I saw that he touched the player but I didn’t have the impression that it was a mean foul committed with the intention to foul the opponent.’

Roldan has previous. He refereed the second game of the 2014 World Cup – Cameroon’s match against Mexico in Natal – and called two Giovani dos Santos goals offside when both looked on.

He did not referee another game in the competition. His part here had seemed like a rehabilitation.

Whoever the referee, this tournament has demonstrated that this layer of VAR officialdom is damaging the pace and energy of this sport and adding complications that need not existed.

Football is about its controversies and its refereeing imperfections are a part of that.

The melee was significant because the African side’s concentration was affected for long enough to allow the Germans to double a 1-0 lead, through a Timo Werner diving header, and it was he who then finished things up with an excellent finish from close range.

Kerem Demirbay made his mark too. They’ll tell you in Germany that the 23-year-old Hoffenheim forward is so one-footed that the only purpose his right leg serves is to prevent him from falling over.

It proved to be rather more useful than that when Demirbay collected a ball Julian Draxler had rolled imperially though Siani’s legs. He dispatched the ball into the net before he could transfer it from right foot to left, early in the second half.

Low was effusive in his praise of the young squad he has gambled on here, giving most of the seniors a break and calling on the trio of Can, Joshua Kimmich and Draxler to marshal the side.

His outlook was a contrast to that of Cameroon and Broos, whose side have struggled to make a statement for the African continent, to which they now return. They displayed energy in the first half of this game, which they had to win.

They had physicality in the tackle and were helped in the first half by the European side’s ponderous approach play. But the gulf in class showed both before and after that moment of controversy.

‘There’s still a difference between us and modern football,’ Broos said of his nation.

‘We still live on our past successes. I’m not accusing any player here – just pointing to training issues in Cameroon. A lack of pitches and infrastructure which is why it is impossible to train good football players. This is our main disadvantage.’

Broos’ players did fight to the last. They gave themselves a prayer when Vincent Aboubakar capitalised on Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s indecision with substitute Nicolas Ngamaleu’s cross at the near post, late on, and headed in.

But Low’s young stars can bask a little longer in the sunshine of Russia’s Black Sea coast where Thursday’s semi-final with Mexico takes place – looking very much a team for the future as well as the present.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4637394/Germany-3-1-Cameroon-Match-report.html#ixzz4l2lD9YEk

De Futebol

The Guardian:” The line between genius and insanity can be wafer thin. When Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou made six changes to his starting line-up to face South American champions Chile, many of his critics in the media centre and the stands thought he was deluded. The embattled manager left two of his best attacking players – Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic – on the bench, for an encounter Australia needed to win by two goals to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup semi-finals.

On a warm Moscow evening, Postecoglou’s surprising team selection proved inspired. Australia played with vigour and dynamism, matching and at times even outplaying a Chilean side 44 places above them in the Fifa rankings. Following two insipid performances in recent days, the Socceroos were outstanding on Sunday.

But a first-half strike from James Troisi was later cancelled out by Chile’s Martín Rodríguez, and the 1-1 draw was not enough to see Australia progress to the knockout phase of the tournament. Despite one of their best performances in recent years, the required two goal win was elusive.

After playing their earlier matches of the Confederations Cup at sparsely attended stadiums in front of disinterested spectators, the atmosphere finally arrived for the Socceroos. While the recently-constructed Spartak Stadium was not nearly at capacity, vocal Chilean fans, patches of Australian support and enthusiastic Muscovites provided an apt setting for the encounter.

Not intimidated by a rousing rendition of the opposition’s national anthem, the Australians began with an aggressive attacking style. But the Chilean threat was ever present. Goalkeeper Mat Ryan was forced to make an impressive double-save in the seventh minute, while Ryan McGowan later blocked a dangerous attempt by striker Eduardo Vargas. As the half progressed, Chile began to exert their dominance on the match.

The controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) then threatened to intervene. Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez was through on goal when veteran Australian defender Mark Milligan deftly extracted the ball from behind, Sanchez falling in the process. Almost a minute later Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi called play to halt, and while the decision ultimately came back in Australia’s favour, the frustration among the Socceroos during the delay was palpable.

The physical Australian approach took its toll, and by the 32nd minute three of Postecoglou’s players had received bookings. But there was far more to the Socceroos game plan than simply knocking the Chileans off their feet. Throughout the first half, Australia was composed in defence and measured when bringing the ball forward. The Socceroos were taking the game to world number four ranked Chile, with considerable success.

Their efforts were rewarded in the 42nd minute. Australia sent numbers forward with slicing build-up play, before a shot from Robbie Kruse was deflected into the path of Troisi. The mercurial playmaker – who qualified the Socceroos for this tournament with his winning goal in the 2015 Asian Cup final – calmly lobbed an onrushing Claudio Bravo.

Against both Germany and Cameroon this week, Australia has conceded in the shadow of the half time interval. When Arturo Vidal met a Sánchez cross with a powerful header that sailed towards the netting, it appeared the trend was to continue. But a last-ditch intervention from Trent Sainsbury prevented a certain La Roja equaliser, and the Socceroos entered the break with a one goal advantage.

Australia returned from the tunnel in a similar fashion, looking the better team at times in the early minutes following the break. But Chile hit back, substitute Martin Rodriguez putting a shot past Ryan after the South American was played onside by the Australian back three. They could have had another just three minutes later, Vargas misconnecting with a header as the goalmouth stood unguarded. There were hints of a handball in the clearance of Socceroos defender McGowan, but referee Rocchi refused to review despite pleas from Vidal.

Neither side really threatened in the final stages, the fatigue of three games in a week clearly showing in players from both sides. Try as they might Australia was unable to find a winner, let alone the two goals they needed to keep their competition hopes alive. But Postecoglou can take heart from an overwhelming positive showing, as he now starts preparing for a vital World Cup qualifier away in Japan in late August. If Australia can repeat their Moscow performance, the Socceroos will be returning to Russia in 2018.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/25/chile-australia-semi-finals-portugal-confederations-cup-match-report

De Futebol

Portugal tore New Zealand a new one four nil to advance to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. The Daily Mail:” Portugal coasted to a 4-0 win over New Zealand in St Petersburg and secured their place in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.

The win, however, came at a cost as Manchester City-bound midfielder Bernardo Silva was forced off with an ankle injury.

With hosts Russia losing 2-1 against Mexico in Kazan, Portugal progressed as Group A winners, while the All Whites finished bottom following a third straight defeat.

Captain Cristiano Ronaldo put Portugal ahead from the penalty spot on 33 minutes.

Bernardo Silva – who has joined City from Monaco for £43million – swiftly doubled the lead with a close-range finish, but in doing so landed awkwardly on his ankle and was taken off at half-time.

Forward Andre Silva wrapped up the comfortable victory with a fierce angled finish on 80 minutes and Nani added a fourth in stoppage time.

New Zealand, the OFC Nations Cup winners, had made a positive opening with Leeds forward Chris Wood seeing his shot saved.

Ronaldo rattled the crossbar before Ipswich defender Tommy Smith bundled over Danilo Pereira in the box following a corner – the Real Madrid icon stepped up to score his 75th international goal from the penalty spot.

It was soon 2-0 to the European champions when Bernardo Silva converted a low cross from Eliseu after 37 minutes.

However, the attacking midfielder turned his ankle as he landed ahead of a sliding challenge from Tom Doyle, which saw him replaced by Luis Pizzi after the break.

Just before half-time, Portugal forward Andre Silva lashed out at Michael Boxall after a tussle with the New Zealand defender, which left him with a torn shirt – but could easily have also resulted in a red card.

New Zealand almost pulled a goal back on the hour when Doyle’s ball across the face of goal from the left found Wood at the far post, but Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio recovered to make a sliding block on the line.

Marinovic had produced a string of decent saves at the other end during the second half.

However, the All Whites keeper could do little when Silva, who AC Milan signed from Porto for £35million, darted into the right of the penalty area before crashing the ball into the top corner.

Valencia star Nani, who came on for Ronaldo, then added a fourth in stoppage time.

The former Manchester United man created space for himself with a clever step over before drilling home a low drive to seal Portugal’s path to the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4635770/Portugal-4-0-New-Zealand-Match-report.html#ixzz4kxrzCXXY

De Futebol

Mexico advanced to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup with 2-1 win over Russia. The Guardian: “Russia fought valiantly in Kazan but the hosts could not avoid early elimination from the Confederations Cup, losing 2-1 to Mexico, who join the Group A winners, Portugal, in the semi-finals after the European champions beat New Zealand 4-0 in St Petersburg.

Needing a win to advance from their difficult group, Russia played well and took the lead with a goal by Alexander Samedov in the first half, but the experienced Mexico side equalised with Néstor Araujo before half-time and secured the victory early in the second half with a goal by Hirving Lozano after a blunder by the goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Russia had plenty of chances, but poor finishing resigned them to defeat. Several players missed clear opportunities throughout the match played in front of 41,585 at Kazan Arena. Russian players gathered in the centre of the pitch to salute fans after the final whistle and were applauded by the crowd.

Mexico had a second-half goal by the defender Héctor Moreno disallowed for offside after video review.

Russia were the lowest-ranked team in the eight-nation competition among continental champions plus the World Cup winners and the host nation.

Advancing from the group with Portugal, and the Gold Cup winners, Mexico, was seen as a difficult task from the start, but an opening victory against New Zealandhad left Russia in position to make it to the semi-finals despite a defeat to Portugal in the second match.

The opening goal came following pressure by the Russian attack in the 25th minute. After the striker Fedor Smolov struck the post with a long-range shot and Yury Zhirkov had his shot saved by Guillermo Ochoa, Russia kept possession and sent the ball back into the area, where Aleksandr Erokhin missed a chance before Samedov picked up his pass and sent a low shot into the far corner.

Mexico equalised five minutes later after Héctor Herrera’s long cross into the area found Araujo near the far post. The defender headed the ball into the opposite corner, over Akinfeev.

Akinfeev made a mistake that led to Mexico’s second goal after a long clearance by Herrera from near the south American side’s area. The ball took a high bounce and started to fall just at the edge of Akinfeev’s box. The goalkeeper apparently was not sure if he could use his hands and ended up taking too long to commit to the ball with his feet, allowing Lozano to nip in and head it into the open net. To make matters worse for the hosts, Zhirkov was sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of the match to go.

In St Petersburg, Portugal coasted to a 4-0 win over New Zealand but it came at a cost as the Manchester City-bound Bernardo Silva was substituted because of an ankle injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored Portugal’s opening goal from the penalty spot on 33 minutes after the Ipswich defender Tommy Smith bundled over Danilo Pereira following a corner.

Four minutes later Bernardo Silva – set to leave Monaco in a £43m deal – doubled the lead with a close-range finish from a low cross from Pereira Eliseu, but in doing so landed awkwardly on his ankle before Tom Doyle made a sliding challenge on the midfielder. He was taken off at half-time.

Just before half-time, the Portugal forward André Silva lashed out at Michael Boxall after a tussle with the defender, that left him with a torn shirt – but could easily have also resulted in a red card.

André Silva wrapped up the comfortable victory with a fierce angled finish on 80 minutes and Nani added a fourth in stoppage time.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/24/mexico-russia-confederations-cup-hirving-lozano

 

De Futebol

German and Chile tied on all. The Daily Mail:” Alexis Sanchez became Chile’s all-time leading scorer when he grabbed an early goal in their 1-1 draw against Germany at the Confederations Cup on Thursday.

Lars Stindl equalised for the world champions just before half-time although the game petered out in the second half as the high-octane Chileans appeared to run out of gas.

The result left both teams level at the top of Group B with four points each from their opening two games, although Chile have the better goal difference. Australia and Cameroon have a point apiece after their 1-1 draw earlier on Thursday.

The top two teams go through to the semi-finals and there is one round of matches in the group on Sunday, with Germany facing Cameroon and Chile playing Australia.

Sanchez’s goal was his 38th for Chile in 113 appearances as he overtook the previous scoring record held by Marcelo Salas.

Germany, now unbeaten in 12 games since their Euro 2016 semi-final exit, gifted Chile a sixth-minute lead when Shkodran Mustafi attempted to play the ball out of defence.

He sent his pass straight to Sanchez who played a one-two with Vidal and toe-poked the ball in off the post.

The referee poured cold water on Chile’s goal celebrations by appearing to call for a video reply, possibly to look at a scything tackle by Mustafi on Vidal, although the goal was quickly confirmed.

Defender Matthias Ginter made a similar mistake soon after but was let off the hook as Germany struggled to cope with the South American side’s high pressing and quick passing.

Chile came close to a second when Eduardo Vargas rattled the underside of the bar with a long-range drive and Sanchez continued to pester them with his marauding runs down the left.

But Germany equalised against the run of play four minutes before half-time when Stindl turned the ball home from close range after Emre Can’s diagonal pass had sent Jonas Hector free on the left to fire a low cross into the middle.

Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen then had to make a one-handed save at his near post to block a low drive from 28-year-old Arsenal forward Sanchez just before the break.

The second half was much quieter with Stindl producing Germany’s best effort, a low shot saved by Johnny Herrera.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4630444/Germany-1-1-Chile-Alexis-Sanche-scores-record-38th-goal.html#ixzz4kpA8Thjr

De Futebol

Mexico defeated New Zealand 2-1.

The Daily Mail: “Ugly scenes marred Mexico’s Confederations Cup victory over New Zealand as Oribe Peralta got his side out of jail at Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium.

Players from both sides became involved in an unseemly melee deep into injury time after Mexico skipper Diego Reyes dragged back Michael Boxall, who then lunged at substitute Hector Herrera.

Gambian referee Bakary Gassama reviewed the incident before remarkably issuing only yellow cards to all three players involved in the initial clashes, but no more.

The Mexicans, who saw Ryan Thomas denied an 85th-minute equaliser by the woodwork, survived a major scare after Chris Wood had fired the Kiwis into a half-time lead and then squandered a series of further chances before Raul Jimenez and Peralta spared their blushes.

Manager Juan Carlos Osorio made eight changes to the side which drew 2-2 with Portugal on Sunday, but saw his under-studies fluff their lines in a poor first-half display.

Tommy Smith might have put the Kiwis ahead with just 10 minutes gone when he only just failed too make the most of fellow defender Boxall’s header down with the Mexicans struggling to cope at set-pieces.

Giovani dos Santos could have eased the nerves three minutes later when he was picked out in front of goal, but he headed wastefully wide.

Smith tested goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera with a firm header, but it was Wood who was causing most of the problems, and Osorio was grateful to his goalkeeper for denying the Leeds striker one-on-one after he made the most of injured defender Carlos Salcedo’s misfortune, much to Osorio’s fury.

But it was Wood who finally broke the deadlock three minutes before the break when midfielder Clayton Lewis turned the ball around the corner to put him through on goal, and he finished expertly to give New Zealand a shock lead.

Osorio sent on midfielder Herrera at the break and his side perhaps should have been level within four minutes when Javier Aquino’s shot from a tight angle was well saved by Stefan Marinovic and Giovani blazed over from the loose ball.

Wood passed up another glorious opportunity when he got in behind the Mexican defence once again four minutes later, and he was made to pay within seconds when Jimenez smashed an equaliser past Marinovic.

But they finally got their noses in front with 18 minutes remaining when Peralta swept home Aquino’s astute pull-back, although substitute Rafael Marquez was fortunate to escape a red card for an ugly challenge seconds later.

Mexico’s luck held five minutes from time when Thomas’ piledriver crashed against the bar and ran to safety before the red mists descended.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4627088/Mexico-2-1-New-Zealand-Game-marred-injury-time-brawl.html#ixzz4kjUK28xc