South Africa, the 15th of June 2010 [PDN]: Brazil, the only team to appear at every World Cup finals since the competitions inception, achieved a 2-1 win against relative unknowns North Korea overnight. The match, albeit decidedly dull, showcased the Brazilians typical flair and tenacity, despite them being held scoreless for over one hour by the negative North Korean tactics.
The opener came via a deft power drive by Brazils right-back Maicon, as coach Carlos Dunga looked to exploit long-range opportunities following his team’s inability to breakdown a 5-man North Korean defence. Elano gave the former champions a two-nil lead late-on with a finely cut shot following a perfect Robinho through-ball.
North Korea, in an attempt to get something from the match, got a late consolation goal from Ji Yun-Nam as the Brazilians took their foot off the gas. Following the other result in the so-called ‘group of death,’ Brazil takes a commanding lead into their next match against Ivory Coast at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
The exciting matchup between African heavyweights Ivory Coast and the Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portuguese promised much but never really delivered in a relatively dour match that ended with a disappointing 0-0 draw.
Apart from a Cristiano Ronaldo long-range rocket, which cannoned off the post in the first half, this match was devoid of any notable events as both teams appeared to be content to play out a draw. Just two efforts on target for the entire match signified the paucity of attacking football on display.
Portugal extended their unbeaten streak in international competition to 17 matches whilst new Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will be content with a point in his first competitive match in charge. Both sides will need to significantly improve if they are to make a genuine mark in this tournament or get out of a difficult group which also includes Brazil.
In their Group F match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, New Zealand earned a hard fought injury-time draw against tournament debutants Slovakia. Having gone one goal down early in the second-half New Zealand showcased the determination to come back with a late equaliser.
Appearing at their first World Cup match in 26 years, New Zealand looked destined for defeat after a precision Robert Vittek header put Slovakia ahead in the 50th minute. It wasn’t to be however as a defender Winston Reid glanced a header of his own into the back of the Slovakian net in second-half injury time.
The draw means that all four teams in Group F will enter their second matches on 1 point a piece after reigning champions Italy played out a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Monday.
Wednesday’s night of action kicks off with Honduras v Chile followed by a display from the reigning European Champions Spain against the always competitive Swiss. Playing in their second match of the tournament in the later fixture will be South Africa against former champions Uruguay.