Today’s matches saw all of the teams in Group F playing their second group matches, with Argentina facing off against relative minnows Iran, whilst Nigeria face Bosnia & Herzegovina with both knowing a win would significantly boost their chances of progression to the last 16. And finally after thrashing Portugal 4-0, Germany’s next opposition were Ghana, who had lost a tight opening game against the USA.
Argentina 1-0 Iran
For the greater part of this match, Argentina did not look like a side who would be a serious contender for the tournament, as they were struggling to break down an Iranian side who to be fair, were fantastic defensively and had their keeper on top form. Iran actually had the first chance of the match when Jala Hosseini headed wide from Ashkan Dejagah’s free kick. But from that moment onwards, Argentina were in control but couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net. Both Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero were foiled by Iran keeper Alireza Haghighi whilst Messi’s free kick was off target. Iran were surprisingly not willing to just roll over to the heavyweights; Reza Ghoochannejhad had a golden opportunity but headed straight at Argentina keeper Romero, whilst Ashkan Dejagah had a good case for an Iranian penalty turned down, before the same player stung the fingers of Romero with a powerful header. Lionel Messi also had a couple of opportunities but his free kick kit the side netting and he slotted wide following a quick break, but it looked as though Iran would hold on. They had a chance to grab all three points but Charlton’s Ghoochannejhad couldn’t get past Romero, who made a great diving save. That missed opportunity would prove costly for Iran though, and it was that man Lionel Messi who broke Iranian hearts, with a brilliant curling 91st minute winner from outside the area. That goal guaranteed Argentina’s place in the last 16 so they are still on course to win their first World Cup since 1986.
Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina
For these two teams in Group F a win would be crucial, as Nigeria and Bosnia got a draw and a defeat in their opening matches respectively. The game was quite open at the start, with Bosnia’s attacking mentality getting them chances but also made them vulnerable in defence. Premier League players Peter Odemwingie and John Obi Mikel both had chances to open the scoring for Nigeria. Bosnia & Herzegovina though should have taken the lead when Edin Dzeko put the ball into the back of the net from a great pass, but was disallowed for offside, even though Dzeko was clearly level with the defence. Nigeria completely took advantage of this when Peter Odemwingie shot through the legs of Asmir Begovic to give Nigeria the lead. Dzeko then wasted several chances to bring Bosnia level after some great work from team-mates. The second half followed a similar pattern, with the open nature of the game giving both teams opportunities, but neither could capitalise. Nigeria forced two saves in quick succession from Begovic with Babatunde and Emenike before Vedad Ibisevic wasted a cross when in acres of space. Dzeko had one final chance to save Bosnia’s World Cup dreams but his scuffed shot was saved by the Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama onto the post and away, meaning Bosnia & Herzegovina will not progress from their group in their first ever World Cup.
Germany 2-2 Ghana
This game was a match of two halves, but it could be said that for the entire duration, the match was rather open. The first half though produced no goals, mainly due to lacklustre final balls, although it was end to end in nature. The second half started in the same manner, but six minutes later Germany took the lead when Thomas Muller found Mario Gotze, who scored despite the ball coming off his kneecap. But Ghana weren’t just going to roll over and get smashed and equalised just three minutes later with Andre Ayew converting Harrison Afful’s brilliant cross. Then less than ten minutes later, a huge shock looked to be on the cards when Ghana took the lead. This time a mistake by Philipp Lahm allowed a perfect pass to come through to Asamoah Gyan who put the ball past Manuel Neuer to become the joint-highest African scorer at the World Cup of all time. Jordan Ayew had a chance to make it 3-1 and surely game over, but chose to go alone rather than pass to team-mates who were in better scoring positions. Germany capitalised on this and only seconds after coming on as a substitute, 36 year old Miroslav Klose scored from a corner which, as well as getting Germany back level, also made him the joint-highest goalscorer in World Cup history, alongside Brazilian legend Ronaldo on 15 goals. Germany continued to attack and only a block off the line from Jonathan Mensah prevented a goal, whilst Ghana had chances through Gyan and Christian Atsu, but a draw was probably a fair result for both teams after a hugely entertaining encounter.