The second round kicks off tomorrow, but there are plenty of big names on their way home.
France’s shambolic tournament, marred by allegations of mutiny within the squad and striker Nicolas Anelka’s sending home, ended with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of hosts South Africa, who themselves also crashed out of the competition – the first host nation to exit the World Cup at the group stage. Uruguay and Mexico progress, the Mexicans narrowly scraping through on goal difference at the expense of Bafana Bafana.
Argentina maintain a 100% record in Group B following a 2-0 win over a defensive Greece side. South Korea’s 2-2 draw with Nigeria also puts them through at the expense of the African side.
Having disappointed in their opening two games, England finally secured a victory against Slovenia, Jermain Defoe netting an early goal against the Slovenians. USA join England in the round of 16, a sensational late winner from Landon Donovan against Algeria placing them top of the group.
Group D was wide open ahead of the final round of fixtures, and Germany made up for their defeat to Serbia with victory over Ghana, the Black Stars also going through thanks to Australia’s victory over Serbia.
The Netherlands have been quietly getting on with things in Group E. Last night saw their third successive victory, a 2-1 win over a Cameroon side that had already been eliminated after two straight defeats. Japan progress for only the second time in their history, their 3-1 victory over Denmark featured two stunning free-kicks which are both contenders for goal of the tournament so far.
World Champions Italy are on their way home after an incredible 3-2 defeat to unfancied Slovakia, who now go through to the next round with unbeaten Paraguay. Italy coach Marcello Lippi immediately took responsibility for the Azzuri exit after the game, admitting he had failed to prepare and train the team properly.
Elsewhere, Portugal face Brazil this afternoon in Durban, both sides already through to the next round (unless Ivory Coast overturn a 9-goal swing in goal difference to surprise the Portugese), while Chile face Spain tonight in Pretoria knowing they may need 3 points depending on the outcome of the Swtizerland versus Honduras match.
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