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FIFA World Cup: Days 18 and 19

Arjen Robben led the Netherlands past Slovakia with a 2-1 win Arjen Robben led the Netherlands past Slovakia with a 2-1 win

The odds-on favorites all did what they were expected to do on the final days of Round 2 at the FIFA World Cup of soccer from South Africa. European powers, Spain and the Netherlands, each advanced, while the ever dominant Brazil sent a message to its final eight counterparts with a lopsided win over Chile. Paraguay, on the other hand, barely squeaked past Japan on penalty kicks.

The Dutch continued their quest for their first ever championship by draining two big goals in a 2-1 defeat of Slovakia. The Netherlands have been impressive in this World Cup, and look better all the time. Their offense is finally starting to click the way it is capable of, which is good news for this goal-starved tournament.

In fact, the goals-per-match is steadily inching up as the games proceed. Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder struck for Holland, while Slovakia managed to get on the board with a too-little-too-late penalty kick in injury time. Robert Vittek scored the Slovakian marker and raced into the net to retrieve the ball, hoping to hasten the resumption of play, but the whistle blew immediately, signaling the end of his country’s run.

In the quarterfinals, Holland will face Brazil, who routed South American rivals Chile 3-0. Brazil has been a powerful force in this tournament, and the match with the Netherlands will mean the elimination of one of this World Cup’s two top teams.

It will also make for a meeting between two of this year’s most offensively gifted sides. Brazil’s three goals came courtesy of Luis Fabiano, Juan, and Robinho, respectively. Brazil will expect continued output of that level in their quest for a sixth world championship.

The final day of the Round of 16 saw Paraguay get past Japan on penalty kicks. After a 0-0 full time draw, Oscar Cardozo scored Paraguay’s fifth try to clinch a 5-3 decision in penalty kicks. Japan’s Yuichi Komano was the only shooter to miss, sending his shot off the crossbar. That was the difference maker.

Spain won a similarly low scoring match 1-0 versus nearby rivals Portugal, who allowed just their first goal of the 2010 World Cup. David Villa continued his incredible tournament by scoring in the 63rd minute, tying him for the lead with four goals overall.

Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, was held to 34 touches, way down from his average of 51 for the rest of the tournament.

The final eight teams in the 2010 FIFA World Cup include only three European squads, the fewest in the tournament’s history. Meanwhile, a South American team will compete in each of the final four matches -the Netherlands vs. Brazil, Argentina vs. Germany, Uruguay vs. Ghana, and Paraguay vs. Spain. The soccer action continues Friday after a two-day break, the first pause in action after 19 straight days of matches.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 09:07

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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