Saturday, 3 July 2010

Robi scores but de Jong through

What a night of football. Two Manchester City players going head to head for a place in the semi-final. Robinho v Nigel de Jong. And City legend Elano, still injured, could only watch.

Robinho started well, playing with the imagination and audacity we saw at City and the energy and bite that we didn't. His tracking, tackling and efforts to win the ball back made him look like a different player altogether from our £32m man.

Only five minutes in he thought he put Brazil ahead, ghosting behind Andre Ooijer, receiving Dani Alves' pass and scoring. Just as he wheeled away to celebrate the flag shot up - Alves had been offside. Tight call. But five minutes later Robinho put Brazil ahead. Holland lost the ball, and their transition from an attacking to a defensive set-up was haphazard at the least. Robinho drifted into the chasm between Ooijer and Johnny Heitinga, and was half-heartedly tracked by Arjen Robben. But he received a straight ball from Felipe Melo and replicated that open body right foot finish we saw against Chile (and against Portsmouth in the 6-0.)

Once ahead Brazil dominated. Robinho's movement was too much for Gregory van der Wiel to comprehend, and Robi was even involved in spats for - get this - over-zealous tackling. Nigel de Jong had to restrain him once. But Brazil couldn't double their advantage and went into half-time one ahead.

The game looked sewn up. The one thing I was sure of was that Brazil would never implode, never capitulate. So the second half was shocking. The Dutch were brighter but could have expected to be gifted a goal. Wesley Sneijder swung a cross in, Felipe Melo and Júlio César jumped into one another and the ball was deflected into the net. Soon after a Dirk Kuyt near post run was ignored, he flicked a corner on and Sneijder buried the second ball.

But there was disappointment in between the goals for de Jong. His harrying and tackling was so relentless, so heroic that he picked up a yellow card. This was his second booking of the tournament and means he misses the semi-final. A personal blow but how else was he meant to keep Kaká quiet? It was a noble act of self-sacrifice to rival Jesus of Nazareth Luis Suárez.

When Felipe Melo was sent off for stamping on Arjen Robben the game was up. Ten man Brazil were stunned and could not create anything. Holland's extra man told and they had their own chances on the break. Robinho and Elano are flying home, and while Nigel de Jong won't play in the semi final he might just be strutting around Soccer City next Sunday night.

1 comment:

city_slacker said...

given we have de jong boateng and silva, we need to sign a uruguayan (forlan?) asap- then we can guarantee a city player winning the world cup! Would be a nice touch