Well, this World Cup is absolutely bonkers. So much of the unexpected has happened and more of it continued on Friday as we continue our daily World Cup coverage here at the Area 51 Sports Network.
The group stages have reached the conclusion and the knockouts begin on Saturday. The 2022 World Cup has shown that anything can really happen. This was just the group stage. The fun just began.
But first, let’s go over the games that were played today.
South Korea stuns Portugal and moves on to the knockouts
Portugal played a decent lineup despite already qualifying for the knockouts. South Korea needed a win to qualify for the knockouts. The last time they went that far was at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It was a tight contest. Portugal got on the board in the fifth minute with a goal from Ricardo Horta. That was the Braga winger’s first World Cup goal. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t been called up for Portugal since 2014. South Korea was running to get back but it was too late. They looked very flat-footed chasing down Pepe’s long ball which found Horta.
South Korea tied in the 27th minute when Kim Young-Gwon pounced on a loose ball. That was from Son Heung-min ‘s corner kick which went off the back off Cristiano Ronaldo’s back and Kim shot it in. The marking from Portugal on this corner kick was just poor.
Kim Seung-Gyu was a busy man in goal as he made five saves.
Both teams looked very patient and cautious in the first half while in the second half, it looked like Portugal was content with a draw.
However, after Portugal had their corner cleared and Son was off to the races…and found Hwang Hee-Chan running nearby and he beat Diogo Costa and sent the South Korean fans into a frenzy. That is easily the biggest goal of Hwang’s career.
You got to give credit to how South Korea defended Portugal in this game as well as Kim Seung-Gyu
Uruguay is going home despite a win over Ghana
The Ghanaians were looking forward to this match. This match with Uruguay was the rematch of the infamous 2010 quarterfinal when Luis Suarez’s handball in extra time turned out to be the catalyst for a Uruguayan victory in the penalty shootout.
But Ghana and Uruguay had the opportunity to go through to the knockout stage. Both of these teams battled hard. Giorgan de Arrascaeta got two goals for Uruguay got two goals in six minutes in the first half. Both goals resulted in great passing from Uruguay.
Uruguayan goalkeeper Sergio Rochet came up big with a first-half penalty save on Ghana’s Andre Ayew. It wasn’t a good penalty, to begin with.
But as soon it was announced that South Korea have taken a lead over Portugal, the Uruguayans took their attacking to 100 while the Ghanaians took their defending to 1000. Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi came up huge in stoppage time with a massive save off Edinson Cavani’s header.
Thanks to South Korea scoring more goals, Uruguay was knocked out of the group stage for the first time since 2002.
Luis Suarez sat on the bench in tears and that is probably a very happy sight for Ghanaians. It’s just like how Vancouver Canucks fans and other NHL fans loved seeing Brad Marchand cry after the Boston Bruins lost the 2019 Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues.
Switzerland clinch second in Group G with a thrilling win over Serbia
The first half alone was wild.
Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri got the party started for Switzerland in the 20th minute with a great finish off an excellent pass from Djibril Sow.
But the Serbians wanted to spoil the party. Aleksandar Mitrović scored for Fulham and for Serbia and he got one hear. That was just a perfect header. Dusan Vlahovic took advantage of some weak Swiss defending (or Swiss Cheese defending, pun intended) to put Serbia in front in the 35th minute.
But just like Cassian Andor, the Swiss never wanted to give up. (Andor is amazing and the best Star Wars series by the way.)
Breel Embolo got the game tied shortly before halftime after some great ball movement by Switzerland. A stunning shot from Remo Freuler who received a slick backheel pass from Ruben Vargas turned out to be the match-winner in the 48th minute.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Swiss held on to the ball more and had plenty of chances to seal the game. That is how you defend a lead folks, sitting back doesn’t always work.
Cameroon become the first-ever African side to beat Brazil
We all know how good Brazil is. They are so good, they are the favourites to win the World Cup. In fact, they are so good, their B team could beat more than half of the teams in this tournament.
But Cameroon had other ideas.
Despite being knocked out, this game will be forever etched in Cameroonian history. Brazil dominated this game. They controlled possession and were constantly testing Devis Epassy. Gabriel Martinelli looked the most dangerous.
But it was Vincent Aboubaker’s header that got Cameroon their famous victory. He was on a yellow but got a red card for taking his shirt off in celebration. But I don’t think he’ll care.
Goal of the day
We are going with Freuler’s winning goal against Serbia. The pass and the goal were both sexy or noice as Michael Rosen says.
Stat of the day
Seriously, this is crazy. Then again, this whole World Cup has been crazy.
Tweet/Meme of the day
“I’m taking you down with me!” Not the revenge Ghana wanted, but revenge is a dish best served cold. Ghana can also thank South Korea for putting a quick end to what is definitely Suarez’s last World Cup.
Round of 16 predictions
Here are my predictions for the round of 16. I expect more than half of these to be wrong
Here are the matchups:
Here is who I think will go through:
England, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil and…Japan with the power of the Blue Lock inspired jerseys. Croatia is a very good team but what this World Cup has taught us is never count anybody out.