Portuguese fans had to wait 40 years to see their team advance to the round of 16. Their national team downed Iran 2-0 on goals by Deco and Ronaldo to guarantee a spot in the round. Scolari established a record with his 9th consecutive win in the tournament after, in 2002 , he successfully coached an undefeated Brazil all the way to first place. Iran, unfortunately, will play their last game in a few days and then return home.

Ghana surprised the world with a comfortable victory over the Czech Republic earning its first 3 points in the competition and increasing its hopes for a second round breadth. Gyan opened the score for the African nation in just over one minute into the game. Missing two strikers to injuries, the Czech team was unable to respond in a game that continued at a breath taking pace. The Europeans found themselves in a very difficult position having a player ejected at the 65th minute. Ghana used their speed and continued to press forward eventually increasing their lead in the 82nd minute. Muntari found himself in a good position inside the box and simply executed a helpless Czech goalkeeper. The final whistle gives the Africans both their first ever win in the tournament as well as much hope for a spot in the next round considering that they meet the USA in their last game while the Czechs have to play Italy.

The third match of the day saw Italy play to a draw with an upbeat USA team. In fact, the Americans playing with 9 men since the 47th minute dominated creating a myriad of quality chances but failing to earn a win. Alberto Gilardino netted the game’s first goal in the 22nd minute with a perfectly executed diving header. The Americans continued to attack and scored the equalizer 5 minutes later when Reyna Claudio crossed the ball into the box and Christian Zaccardo, in his attempt to clear it, scored an own goal. The second half started with Pope being ejected after receiving his second yellow card for a hard tackle. The game continued at a fierce pace until the very end with Italy failing to convert any of multiple chances. Keller rightfully deserved the “man of the match” award for his excellent performance in the entirety of the game but especially in the dying minutes. The final result leaves the two qualifying spots open to any of the four teams in Group E which should make June 22nd a very interesting day.


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