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FIFA World Cup 2010: Days 13 and 14

Germany and Ghana both advanced to the elimination round Germany and Ghana both advanced to the elimination round

The 2006 defending champions have failed to make it beyond the group stage. Italy joined France as the other European soccer superpower to make an embarrassingly early exit from FIFA World Cup 2010 this week after losing 3-2 to Slovakia in group play.

It’s been a strange and dramatic year, and the action continued this week with Japan advancing for only the second time ever. Ghana also became the first of this year’s African nations to advance, and could be the only one of six teams from the host continent to move on. Meanwhile, New Zealand managed to go undefeated in group play, but failed to advance to the final 16 after their scoreless draw with Paraguay.

England finally managed their first win of the tournament following two consecutive draws to kick things off. Their 1-0 defeat of Slovenia was enough to earn them a spot in the knockout stage and avoid the fate of some of their notable continental cohorts.

The U.S.A. barely stole a 1-0 win over Algeria on a goal from Landon Donovan 45 seconds into injury time. It was the Americans’ first World Cup win in eight years, and the first time they have finished first in their group since the inaugural World Cup tournament back in 1930.

Ghana and Germany both advanced from Group D following Germany’s 1-0 defeat of the Ghanaians. Australia’s 2-1 defeat of Serbia gave them a record that matched Ghana’s, but an earlier four-goal loss to the Germans meant that Ghana’s superior overall goal differential would oust the Aussies regardless of the win.

Thursday’s first game was the shocker of the week, as Slovakia defeated defending champs, Italy, 3-2 to send the Azzurri packing. It was the first time since 1974 that Italy has failed to advance. Slovakia, meanwhile, heads to the round of 16 as one of only two teams with a negative goal differential. (South Korea is the other.)

A 0-0 draw with New Zealand was good enough to place Paraguay at the top of  Group F. The Kiwis went undefeated, managing three straight draws, but are eliminated from the tournament nevertheless.

Denmark failed to advance for the first time in its four World Cup appearances after falling 3-1 to Japan. Japan moves on for just the second time, and will face Paraguay in elimination play next week.

Holland cruised to the round of 16 with three consecutive wins, the latest of which came at the expense of Cameroon. The 2-1 win gives the Dutch top spot in Group E.

The final elimination slots will be determined Friday. If the rest of FIFA World Cup 2010 has been any indication, at least one of the final four soccer matches in group play will provide some fireworks. All eyes will be on Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast, who need a big win to become Africa’s second and final team to advance.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 09:24

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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