World Cup 2006 Round Up – Quarter Finals

World Cup 2006 Round Up – Quarter Finals

The World Cup is down to eight countries as we approach the business end of the tournament. This is what happened the four quarter finals and who will be squaring off against who in the semis.

In a match billed as the 1990 World Cup final replay, hosts Germany ousted second favourites Argentina on a penalty shoot-out. Roberto Ayala headed Argentina in front four minutes into the second half and Jose Pekerman’s side looked to have booked their place in the last four until leading goalscorer Miroslav Klose levelled 10 minutes from time. No more goals were scored and the impeccable Germans maintained their 100% penalty record in a major finals by defeating their opponents 4-2 from the spot. A large brawl broke out after the final spot kick and Pekermen resigned in the aftermath of defeat.

Italy vs Ukraine was expected to be a low scoring affair but the Italians stepped up a gear and swept the World Cup first timers aside 3-0. Italy were out of the blocks early and Zambrotta broke the deadlock after just six minutes. Luca Toni, tipped by many as a dark horse for the World Cup Golden Boot, finally scored his first of the tournament, heading in after 59 minutes and netted another 10 minutes later to set up a semi-final clash against Germany.

Arguably the biggest shock of the tournament was France against Brazil. The ageing French side who had surprisingly got this far after an unconvincing group stage performance were expected to lose against pre-tournament favourites Brazil. However, an inspired performance by veteran Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry’s goal after 57 minutes was enough to see France through to the final four. Before they met Spain in the second round, France were 20/1 outsiders but now see themselves as 2/1 second favourites behind hosts Germany.

Whereas France’s victory over Brazil was a shock, the most dramatic match of the quarter finals was unquestionably England vs Portugal. England had arguably better of the chances until the crucial turning point after XX minutes when Wayne Rooney was sent off. Rooney apparently stamped on Ricardo Carvalho and Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo gestured to have the striker sent off. Rooney pushed Ronaldo away and duly received his marching orders. Sven Goran Eriksson had no more ideas to call upon, despite banking £25 million during his five year tenure and with the score still 0-0 after 130 minutes, the match was to be decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

Simao scored but Frank Lampard’s was saved by goalkeeper Ricardo. Hugo Viana hit the post and the impressive Owen Hargreaves scored. Armando Petit struck his effort wide but with the chance to put England in front, Steven Gerrard saw his tame effort saved. Helder Postiga converted from the spot but Jamie Carragher saw a third penalty saved by Ricardo. Ironically, it was Ronaldo who netted the third crucial penalty to send Portugal into the semi final by a 3-1 scoreline.