Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina will return to
Anfield next month as World Cup winners after Spain's extra time
victory over Holland in Johannesburg.
But Liverpool will be keeping their fingers crossed that the injury
which forced Torres to leave the field before the final whistle
isn't as bad as first feared.
The Liverpool striker only joined the action for the second period
of extra time, after replacing David Villa with the scores goalless
and the game seemingly heading for penalties.
Andres Iniesta then scored what proved to be the vital goal for
Spain, and with the clock ticking towards its final seconds Torres
chased a long ball upfield before pulling up sharply and falling to
Torres left the field immediately and wasn't involved in the
immediate post-match celebrations among his teammates on the final
whistle, but he reappeared in time to collect his World Cup winners
Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina have the chance of
adding World Cup Winners medals to their European Championship
Winners medals from 2008 after Spain made the World Cup Final.
Torres, who has had a difficult tournament for the Spanish, was
dropped to the bench for the Semi Final against Germany however he
can on for David Villa in the final minutes of the 1-0 win.
Pepe again had to be content with a place on the substitutes bench
as he continues to bide his time before one day becoming the Spanish
number one. The Reds goalkeeper will do this in the not too distant
The Spanish Reds will come up against two more of their current
Anfield team mates in Sunday's final as Dirk Kuyt (who has been a
regular) and Ryan Babel are both in the Netherlands squad. There are
also several former Reds stars in the Spanish squad as well so there
will be plenty of interest for us Reds supporters.
It's now certain that we'll have World Cup Winners, and runners up,
at Anfield next season. Good luck to all of the Reds stars involved
and may the best team win on Sunday.
Holland 3-2 Uruguay
There was delight for Liverpoolís Dirk Kuyt this evening as Holland
beat Uruguay 3-2 in the World Cup Semi-Final at the Green Point
Stadium in Cape Town to book themselves a place in Sundayís Final.
After impressive first half strikes from Giovanni van Bronckhorst
and Diego Forlan saw the teams go in level at the break, the Dutch
were given a stroke of luck when Wesley Sneijderís shot found its
way into the back of the net with 20 minutes to go.
Just minutes later Holland put the game beyond the South Americans
when Kuyt provided a great cross which Arjen Robben met and headed
home Hollandís third of the night. Only earlier today, Kuytís fellow
countrymen were singing his praises.
In the second minute of injury time Maxi Pereira pulled one back for
the Uruguayans, but despite a late surge on goal it was too little
It was Hollandís sixth straight victory of the tournament and now
they look to the final on Sunday night where they will meet the
winner of Wednesday nightís semi-final between Germany and Spain
By Martyn Ziegler - Press Association Sport, Johannesburg
Fernando Torres believes that this Spain team will
be talked about for years to come if they beat Germany - the only
doubt is whether the Liverpool striker will start the match.
Torres has been in the starting XI for all of Spain's games bar the
opener against Switzerland where the European champions were shocked
to be defeated 1-0.
Since then the 26-year-old, who arrived in South Africa short of
fitness following a knee operation in April, has been chosen to
start by coach Vicente Del Bosque but has yet to score or even look
close to living up to his reputation.
The Torres question has dominated Spanish thoughts in the build-up
to the semi-final in Durban, with many keen for Cesc Fabregas to
start after La Roja played with much more conviction once the
Arsenal midfielder replaced Torres in the quarter-final against
Fabregas picked up a leg injury in training yesterday however and
though the Spanish federation say it is not serious, it may just
persuade del Bosque to keep faith with Torres, the man whose goal
against the same opponents in the final of Euro 2008 gave Spain's
multi-talented side their greatest success so far in football.
Torres said: "No player is assured of a place in the starting XI. A
player has to give 100% in his fight for a place in the team. But if
he isn't given the nod by the boss, then he has to cheer on the side
from the sidelines.
"If I score against Germany and it takes us to the final that would
"I hope history can be repeated but above all, that the team wins.
"We have done well in our last games against them but this German
team is much better than the previous sides we have faced.
"They have proved to be one of the favourites in this tournament
without a doubt."
Spain in fact have never reached even the semi-finals of the World
Cup, though they did make a final group of four in 1950 which
eventually determined the winner. Torres insisted that it was
important the team did not believe their job is already done.
He added: "I don't just settle for being in the semi-finals, I want
"Of course it's a success for us as this is the first time our
nation has achieved this but we are aware that we may never get this
chance again. We have the right to dream and to play a wonderful
game against Germany.
"We want to make sure that people will still be talking about this
Spain team in two years' time or even longer."
Torres has also had to endure continued speculation over his future
at Liverpool, though even when given the opportunity he had not
definitely nailed his colours to the Anfield mast. He wants to speak
to new manager Roy Hodgson, and view how the sale of the club is
developing, before he makes a final decision.
"Once the World Cup is over I will speak to Liverpool and they will
explain to me the real situation of the club right now and for the
future," said Torres. "I will also speak to the new coach.
"There's time to do that. Right now I want to finish the World Cup
and go on holiday. I've been three years without holidays and I want
to rest. The situation is not going to change whether I speak to
them before or after (the World Cup)."
When asked about reports linking him with a move to Inter Milan,
Barcelona or Chelsea, he said: "Honestly, the teams cannot do
anything until the end of the World Cup. The players that are here
prefer to wait and there is time."
Liverpool's Spanish international striker Fernando
Torres will talk with the club's new manager Roy Hodgson about his
future after the World Cup.
Torres, 26, has been linked with moves to Manchester City and
But having missed the final stages of the Premier League season
after knee surgery, he has yet to score in South Africa and has
looked off the pace.
"I've an important week and after that I'll have time to talk with
Hodgson and talk about my future," he said.
Despite Torres' stuttering form, the European champions have reached
the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history and
will meet Germany in Durban on Wednesday.
Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez signed Torres from Atletico
Madrid in 2007 for £20m, but left Anfield last month to join Inter
Since then Hodgson has taken over the reins at Anfield with the
former Fulham boss saying he hoped he could hang onto his star
"I was happy Hodgson got the job," added Torres. "I haven't had a
chat with him yet but I will talk with him soon and we will see his
ideas about the future.
"For now, my future is here. South Africa and the World Cup is too
important to think about things after that."
Torres appearances at the World Cup have come after an injury-hit
season with Liverpool.
In April he had an operation on a torn cartilage in his right knee
and had already been sidelined for a month after another knee
operation in January. He also struggled with a groin injury before
"It is a difficult tournament for me because my fitness is not the
best but I am improving every game," said Torres, who scored 22
goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season.
"I am happy for the things I did in the game against Paraguay in the
quarter-finals and in the last game as well. I am feeling better but
I still have to improve - obviously.
"I have to accept my role in this tournament. I didn't arrive in the
best moment especially in terms of fitness especially after two lots
"But I am happy with the things I am doing and hopefully the manager
and the team are as well."
On Sunday, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque hedged his bets as to
whether Torres, who scored the winning goal in their Euro 2008 final
victory over Germany, would start Wednesday's semi-final.
"He continues to be an important player for us and one that the
other squad members are used to," said Del Bosque.
"All strikers go through good and bad runs but he brings his work
rate and his personality to the team and he is still our forward.
"You should not necessarily take my words to mean that he is
definitely going to be starting [the Germany match] but we have full
confidence in him."
Javier Mascherano's aspirations of captaining
Argentina to World Cup glory are over after Germany sent Diego
Maradona's men crashing out of the quarter-finals with
a 4-0 victory.
In perhaps the most stunning result of the tournament so far,
Germany fired a clear statement of intent with a comprehensive rout
of one of the competition favourites.
Mascherano and clubmate Maxi Rodriguez both retained their places in
Maradona's starting XI, but the Germans made a blistering start to
proceedings at the Green Point Stadium and duly took the lead inside
Bastian Schweinsteiger's wicked in-swinging free-kick from the left
was glanced over the line by Thomas Mueller with goalkeeper Sergio
Romero caught out of position.
It should have been 2-0 moments later as Mueller strode through the
Argentinean defence before cutting the ball back for Miroslav Klose,
who uncharacteristically blazed over the crossbar.
Argentina slowly began to find their way into the contest, though
the Germans remained a threat on the counter-attack.
Maradona's troops raised the tempo of their play in the opening
exchanges of the second period as they poured forward in an attempt
to find a leveller.
Still, the mercurial talents of Lionel Messi were failing to trouble
Manuel Neuer's goal - and Germany doubled their advantage on 68
minutes when Lukas Podolski teed up Klose for a close-range tap-in
after more good work by Mueller.
Soon after, they confirmed a place in the last four as the
eye-catching Schweinsteiger waltzed through the Argentina defence to
set-up Arne Friedrich for his first international goal.
Klose volleyed home a fourth late on to seal a 4-0 win and the
Germans will now meet either Spain or Paraguay in the semi-final
next Wednesday evening.
Jamie Carragher insists his return to the England
squad was a 'one-off', and believes Fabio Capello deserves to stay
on as coach.
Liverpool defender Carragher was brought out of international
retirement to take up a place in Capello's World Cup squad and made
two appearances in South Africa.
He missed the vital win over Slovenia through suspension and was
unable to reclaim his spot in the team for the disastrous 4-1 defeat
by Germany which sent England crashing out at the last 16 stage.
Carragher was delighted to be involved in the tournament, but the
32-year-old has confirmed he is not planning to be available for
national team duty next season.
"This was a one-off thing," he said. "The manager said he had a few
injuries and I came into the squad and helped.
"I was delighted with the opportunity to play in a World Cup and
work with Capello, but I have always said the most important thing
for me is Liverpool Football Club."
England's early demise in South Africa led to calls for Capello to
be replaced as coach, but the Football Association has given its
backing to the Italian - a decision which finds favour with
He added: "Obviously I wasn't involved in the qualifying stages, but
that went great. The World Cup hasn't gone as well - so maybe I'm
the problem, not Capello!
"Bobby Robson went out on a high in 1990, but a few tournaments
didn't go too well for him.
"That's part of the game and I am sure with the experience of this
tournament, hopefully the lads will get to the next one and be a lot
better for it.
"I don't think there are many managers out there with the record he
has got. I think with that itself he certainly deserves another
crack at the England job."
Carragher admits England were poor, but has rubbished suggestions
that there were divisions within the camp during their time in South
He continued: "I have not been in the squad for a while so it was
new to me in terms of the manager and different things.
"But I do think with England when things don't go well people are
always looking for things.
"People are looking for different reasons why it went wrong, but the
bottom line is we just didn't perform well as a football team rather
than anything else."
Brazil 1-2 Holland
There was delight for Liverpoolís Dirk Kuyt today as he helped
Holland to a famous victory over Brazil in the World Cup and book a
place in the tournamentís semi-finals.
Kuyt played the full 90 minutes for the Netherlands, flicking on
Arjen Robbenís corner to Wesley Sneijder to head home Hollandís
winner in the 68th minute.
The Dutch actually came from behind to win the quarter-final clash.
Robinho had given Brazil the lead as early as the 10th minute,
before Felipe Melo scored an unfortunate own goal shortly into the
second half to cancel it out.
Minutes after Sneijderís winner, Brazil were reduced to ten men when
Felipe Melo, having earlier scored an own goal, was sent off for
bringing down, and then stamping on Robben.
Late on, Kuyt became a defensive hero for the Dutch, scrambling the
ball out of play when Maarten Stekelenburg made a mess of Maiconís
Holland now play the winner of Uruguay vs Ghana (tonight) in the
semi-final on Tuesday night in Cape Town.
Tomorrow sees the World Cupís other semi-finals. Javier Mascherano
and Maxi Rodriguezís Argentina take on Germany at 3pm BST and
Paraguay play Fernando Torres and Pepe ReinaĎs Spain at 7.30pm BST.
Fernando Torres today acknowledged he has so far
failed to hit top gear in the World Cup - but the striker is
confident the goals will soon begin to flow in South Africa.
The 26-year-old was unable to find the back of the net in 154
minutes of group stage action for Spain and admits he is yet to fire
on all cylinders after recovering from a knee operation that ruled
him out of the end of Liverpool's 2009-10 season.
However, as La Furia Roja prepare to take on Portugal in the last 16
of the tournament tonight, Torres believes his fitness will continue
to improve with each run out, enabling him to return to his
He said: "I am the first person to hold his hand up and say that 'I
have to give much more', but I'm sure that the performances will
"I always think to myself that I could have played better. I'm still
not yet playing at the standard expected of me from fans, and at the
very least I should be offering the supporters that level.
"I've always been very demanding when it comes to how I play and I
know I'm not at the standard that everyone expects from me. But with
every game I feel much better and I've still got a lot more to
With Torres yet to get off the mark, Barcelona-bound David Villa is
the Spaniard's top scorer in South Africa having helped himself to
three goals in as many matches.
El Nino is well aware strikers are judged on their goalscoring form,
but he is adamant he is not feeling any pressure.
"I would have been anxious back when I was 17, but anxiety doesn't
affect me anymore," he said. "Now I'm looking for the collective
triumph, which is basically for Spain to win.
"Strikers are rated on the back of their goalscoring. I have been
reading the English press and nobody expected that Wayne Rooney
would return from the World Cup without scoring a goal.
"If I had scored two goals in the game against Honduras, where I had
chances to score, there would be no topic or debate, but that's
"It's the result that counts, but it's important that the boss and
his coaching staff value the rest of my contribution. I am calm as I
know that I have Vicente Del Bosque's full backing."
He added: "Everyone has their role. David Villa has always been our
main scorer and his impressive goalscoring record for Spain speaks
"Everyone has to do the job assigned to them, which is not always to
score goals. The goals will come, of that I have no doubt. And yes,
I know that scoring goals is also part of my role."
Torres's substitute appearance in Spain's opening match of the World
Cup against Switzerland was his first competitive action since
firing a brace in Liverpool's Europa League clash with Benfica on
The No.9 has been forced to undergo two operations since the turn of
the year and therefore accepts he may be lacking a bit of match
But the striker claims inclusion in Vicente Del Bosque's 23-man
squad for South Africa provided a boost of confidence ahead of the
He said: "I'm very grateful to Vicente Del Bosque for handing me the
opportunity to be a part of the national team without quite yet
reaching the playing level that's expected of me. His belief in me
is a great boost of confidence."
Spain head into the clash with Portugal on the back of two solid -
if not spectacular - victories over Honduras and Chile, which
followed a shock 1-0 reversal to Switzerland.
However, Torres knows their Iberian counterparts will provide a
stern test of La Furia Roja's World Cup ambitions - and stressed
there is much more to the Portuguese threat than just Cristiano
"Cristiano has shown with his performances that he works for the
team. Portugal play as one," said El Nino. "They also concede very
few goals and they are very dangerous in the final third of the
"The team defends very well. Pepe, who is back from injury, is a
guarantee at the back and Carvalho is an excellent player. Bruno
Alves is very good, and their full-backs - Miguel, Ferreira and
Costa - are very solid, yet they also contribute in attack.
"Coentrao out on the left is a dangerman, but there's also Mendes,
Tiago, Meireles and Deco. Ronaldo and Simao offer plenty in attack,
with Hugo Almeida up front. Hugo knows what's expected of him and he
knows how to deliver."
The winners of tonight's Cape Town showdown will set up a
quarter-final tie with either Paraguay or Japan on Saturday evening.
Spain remain firmly amongst the leading favourites to claim the
trophy after their impressive European Championship success of two
And Torres is in no doubt that this is his country's best chance of
winning the World Cup in living memory.
He said: "The European Championship victory changed everything. But
we cannot live in the past. The current group of players must seize
"A French side led by Zidane won both the European Championships and
the World Cup.
"This is our golden era, and we can't let the opportunity pass us
by. If Spain fail to win the World Cup it would be a missed
opportunity, and who knows if we will get another chance."
Spanish goal hero David Villa has rallied behind
Fernando Torres after his strike partner turned in another
disappointing World Cup performance in the European champions' 1-0
win over Portugal.
Torres has looked well short of his best after returning from knee
surgery days before the tournament and Spain's passage into the last
eight, where they will face Paraguay, was only secured after he was
replaced in the second half by burly Basque striker Fernando
Llorente succeeded in sowing chaos among the Portugal defence where
Torres had failed and was involved in the move that led to Villa
scoring the second-half goal that gave Spain a 1-0 victory over
their European neighbours.
"We know what state his knee was in a month ago and I don't agree
with those who say that Fernando Torres's performances have been
below par," Villa told reporters at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium.
"The only blame you can pin on him in the opening stages (of the
World Cup) is that he hasn't scored," he added. "His desire to be
with the team has been spectacular."
Spain play their quarter-final against Paraguay at Johannesburg's
Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday and the winners will take on
Argentina or Germany for a place in the final.
Dirk Kuyt helped bring Martin Skrtel's World Cup
dream to an end as Holland beat Slovakia 2-1 in the last 16 of the
tournament on Monday afternoon.
Goals in each half from Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder secured
victory for Oranje, who now face a mouth-watering quarter-final
clash against either Brazil or Chile on Friday, while Robert Vittek
netted a consolation from the penalty spot deep into injury-time.
Kuyt and Skrtel both figured for 90 minutes in Durban, while Ryan
Babel was again named amongst the Dutch substitutes.
Buoyed by their elimination of current World champions Italy,
Slovakia made a bright start at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and
Manchester City starlet Vladimir Weiss flashed a low drive narrowly
wide inside the opening three minutes.
However, their early promise was undone by fit-again Arjen Robben in
the 18th minute. Racing onto a long ball forward from Wesley
Sneijder, the winger cut inside from the right and drilled a
powerful shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The Netherlands could not increase their lead before the break,
though the opening exchanges of the second period saw Robben bring a
fine stop out of Jan Mucha following a jinking run into the box.
The Slovak 'keeper produced an even better save moments later,
thwarting Mark Van Bommel at close quarters with the ball striking
him in the face.
Holland custodian Maarten Stekelenburg was then called into action
twice in quick succession on 68 minutes, first tipping Miroslav
Stoch's strike over the bar before blocking Vittek one-on-one.
Back came the Dutch and Kuyt's powerful run and shot from 20 yards
was turned around the post by Mucha - but the forward helped put the
result beyond doubt by claiming an 84th-minute assist.
A quickly-taken free-kick from Giovanni Van Bronckhorst drew Mucha
from his goal, but a deft headed touch from Kuyt took him around the
stopper before Liverpool's No.18 squared for Sneijder to tap home.
Vittek's stoppage-time penalty reduced the arrears, but Holland
maintained their 100 per cent record in South Africa to march on
into the last eight.
Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez helped
Argentina reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup after a
thrilling 3-1 win over Mexico on Sunday night.
Skipper Mascherano played for the full 90 minutes and Maxi enjoyed
an 86 minute run-out before cramp forced him off the field.
Both Reds stars were impressive and Diego Maradona's side now face
Germany in Cape Town next Saturday afternoon.
Mexico were very much the underdog but they came so close to an
opener after eight minutes when Carlos Salcido struck the bar with a
fantastic effort, then seconds later Andres Guardado, fired a
rasping shot that swerved a couple of feet wide.
However, with Mascherano leading by example with his energy and
drive, Argentina began to find their feet.
Maradona's side took the lead after 25 minutes through Carlos Tevez
although it was a highly controversial moment to say the least as
the Manchester City striker was offside.
Lionel Messi's through ball saw Tevez blocked by the 'keeper, but
Messi was quickest to react as he lobbed the ball onto the head of
Tevez who found the net.
The Mexican players then surrounded the officials and the replay was
even shown on the big screen in the stadium, but despite the
protests the goal was given.
A complete gift by the Mexican defence then saw Maradona's men go
2-0 up after 32 minutes when Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain
found the net.
Mexico derfender Ricardo Osorio didn't look as he played a ball
straight to Higuain who rounded Oscar Perez before scoring.
Tevez made it 3-0 after 51 minutes with one of the best goals of the
tournament so far. He struck an awesome shot from 25-yards out into
the top corner of the net that Perez didn't even get near.
With 20 minutes to go Mexico pulled a goal back their efforts
deserved when Manchester United bound Javier Hernandez struck with a
Mexico continued to press forward and had one or two half chances,
but Mascherano and co march on and who would bet against them going
all the way?
Fernando Torres may not have hit top form in the
World Cup yet but Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque insists he remains
a major threat.
Liverpool striker Torres had to play catch-up with regards to his
preparations for the World Cup after missing the majority of Spain's
build-up having undergone knee surgery in April.
His only appearance in the warm-up matches came during Spain's final
friendly against Poland, and although he managed to score in a 6-0
win in that match, he has failed to get off the mark in three Group
H games in South Africa.
The former Atletico Madrid man has had the chances but has not been
able to make the most of them.
Nevertheless, Del Bosque is still pleased with what Torres has
contributed to Spain's qualification for the last 16, even it if has
not been goals.
"What's important is that he's played in the three games and has
progressed in his preparation," Del Bosque said.
"He's a player who even though he hasn't scored goals he benefits us
as someone who makes it hard for opposing defences and who is always
a threat to the other team. He's a very dangerous player."
Torres himself admits he is not yet back to full fitness, telling
Radio Marca: "I'm still lacking a bit, it's not easy to return after
"I think I'm still a little away from being 100%, although I'm
Spain suffered a losing start to their World Cup campaign after
going down to a shock 1-0 loss to Switzerland, but they rallied
after that and successive victories over Honduras and Chile saw them
finish top of Group H.
That saw the European champions set up a last 16 showdown with
Iberian rivals Portugal, which will be played in Cape Town on
Torres, who was substituted at the start of the second half against
Chile having complained of a muscular problem at the break, said:
"We're ready for whatever comes. We are where we wanted to be,
living the opportunity that we dreamed of.
"We only need to look ahead, be optimistic, positive and show the
people what we are capable of. We have confidence in ourselves.
"(However) anything can happen, so we will need to be more focused
"We've all seen the level that this team have and we know that we
haven't reached that yet."
Fernando Torres can look forward to a World Cup
last sixteen clash against Portugal next week after Spain sealed
qualification from Group H with a 2-1 victory over Chile.
First half goals from David Villa and Andres Iniesta secured victory
for Del Bosque's men, who have recovered from an opening match
defeat to Switzerland to top the group ahead of Chile in second
Rodrigo Millar pulled a goal back for Chile in the first minute of
the second half, but by that time they had been reduced to ten men
after Marco Estrada was dismissed for a trip on Torres and despite
pressing for an equaliser they were unable to find the goal which
would have changed the dynamic of the group.
Torres was on the field for less than an hour before being replaced
by Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and it remains to be seen whether or not
it was an injury which forced his early withdrawal and whether he is
a doubt for Spain's mouth-watering knock-out clash with Portugal
England captain Steven Gerrard believed he and his
team-mates demonstrated their ability to triumph in adversity after
a 1-0 victory over Slovenia booked a place in the last 16 of the
Jermain Defoe, promoted to the starting line-up above Emile Heskey,
scored the only goal of a nail-biting game in Port Elizabeth as
Fabio Capello's Three Lions got the win they needed to sneak into
the knockout stages as the second-placed team in Group C.
It was an improved performance to that of the stalemate against
Algeria, although it could be argued that a high-octane, Premier
League approach may have papered over the cracks of what was a
scrambled win against a side ranked 25th in the world.
Liverpool talisman Gerrard, who returned to the sort of form that he
displayed in the opening draw against the USA, was eager to point to
the positives as England wait to discover their last 16 opponents,
the side who top Group D.
"When you need to win a game and you don't get that second or third
goal, you are going to be really anxious at the end," said the
30-year-old after the final whistle at the Nelson Mandela Bay
"But I thought the lads were terrific today. Everything we asked;
passion, fight, team spirit, togetherness and quality as well. We
thoroughly deserved to go through.
"We have done it before today. When our backs are against the wall
and there are people doubting us, we roll our sleeves up and produce
"But we need to do it all the time to go to the latter stages in
this tournament. We need to find consistency now, especially in the
knockout stages, because if we perform like we did against Algeria I
don't think we will get another chance."
Gerrard produced a captain's performance against Slovenia and,
having scored England's goal in the 1-1 draw with the USA, he was
only denied another goal at this summer's finals after an awkward
bounce on the infamous Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium pitch.
"I'm really happy with my form throughout the tournament so far,
(although) I was disappointed not to get on the scoresheet again.
One bobbled for me in the first half," he said.
"But I don't think it's fair to point any individuals out today. I
thought all the players that started the game and the substitutes
Having been tipped to take the tournament by storm, goalless Wayne
Rooney has been criticised for his outings to date in South Africa
and his attitude has been questioned after his outburst at fans who
booed the draw with Algeria.
The Manchester United striker hobbled off before the end of the win
over Slovenia amid concerns over a troublesome ankle ligament
injury, but Gerrard remains convinced by his close friend's ability.
"Wayne has had a bit of criticism over the last couple of games,"
said Gerrard. "But today he worked his socks off and showed a bit of
"If people keep doubting him, that is up to them. But I'm certainly
not because I know that goals are around the corner."
England will discover who they will play in the last 16 when Group D
concludes on Wednesday night, with old enemies Germany as potential
opponents in Bloemfontein on Sunday afternoon.
Gerrard, though, is not concerned. He said when asked if he cared
who will lie in wait: "No I don't.
"All the games are difficult as it has proved from game one. But I
think it is all about us now. If we turn up and play close to our
potential, we are a match for anyone."
Greece were eliminated after losing their final group game, 2-0 to
Argentina last night. Kyrgiakos played the full 90 minutes and
helped keep Lionel Messi quiet for long periods of the game. It did
seem that Greece were going to keep Argentina at bay but two goals
in the last twelve minutes did for them.
Maxi Rodriguez played just over an hour while Javier Mascherano was
rested with Argentina already qualified.
England captain Steven Gerrard gave a frank
assessment of his side's performance as they laboured to a tame draw
The Three Lions could only muster a 0-0 stalemate in Cape Town,
leaving them tied on two points with the USA going into the final
round of matches.
The result means Fabio Capello's team must beat Slovenia on
Wednesday to guarantee progression into the knockout phase.
But three points may seem like a mirage following their performance,
which left Gerrard in doubt that his colleagues were good enough to
Not good enough
When asked after the match what was missing from the offering, he
simply responded: "Goals."
But the Liverpool star went on: "We're not happy with the
performance, we need more - we want to stay in this tournament until
the later stages (but) we need to improve. We weren't good enough in
the final third to get the breakthrough."
England looked anxious for the entirety of the match and struggled
to create meaningful chances in open play, leading to concerns over
the ability of Capello's charges to unlock opposition defences.
Gerrard was all too aware of what was missing, and while re-called
goalkeeper David James and his defence looked largely untroubled at
the back, critics will point to the lack of potency offered by the
The 30-year-old was initially coy when quizzed about why they were
under-par, saying: "I don't know. We'll have to have a look at it,
have a look at the reasons why."
He added: "We weren't aggressive enough, we never won the ball back
early enough and we never had the courage in the final third."
Gerrard defended suggestions his team froze under the pressure of
the encounter after going into the match knowing a win would put
them in control of Group C.
Look at ourselves
Instead, they face a four-way contest to make it through to the
second round, although in reality, it is between England, the USA
and Slovenia for the top two spots.
The permutations may result in an even more inhibited offering in
Asked if pressure was to blame, Gerrard said: "Not at all, we've got
no excuses. We know the job we've got to do - we've got to go and
win the last game and that adds more pressure.
"But to play at this level you've got to handle it, you've got to
play under pressure. We never hit our level today - not good
To Algeria's credit, their rearguard action was a key factor in
stifling England, however, Gerrard was not prepared to accept a draw
against the team widely expected to come bottom of the pool.
"We have to beat them," said Gerrard. "Of course, you have to give
them credit. This is their World Cup final and they've managed to
get a draw off us.
Milan Jovanovic was the Serbian hero as they
completed a shock World Cup victory over 10-man Germany on Friday
The forward - who will reportedly sign for Liverpool on a Bosman
free this summer - struck the only goal of the contest to throw
Group D wide open.
His performance during a 79-minute outing will have impressed
Kopites on a day when one of the World Cup favourites were humbled.
The Germans had looked like taking an early lead on seven minutes
when Lukas Podolski flashed wide after a neat team move.
Their chances were severely dented on 37 minutes, however, following
a clownish decision by Spanish referee Alberto Undiano, who
dismissed Miroslav Klose with two innocuous yellow cards.
A minute later the Serbs took the lead when a Milos Krasic cross was
headed back across goal by Nikola Zigic for an unmarked Jovanovic to
thrust beyond the 'keeper from three yards.
Joachim Low's men almost hit back on the stroke of half-time when
Sami Khedira walloped the crossbar, while Bastian Schweinsteiger
stung the hands of the Serbian goalkeeper nine minutes after the
Podolski was next to threaten after going one-on-one with Vladimir
Stojkovic but the striker dragged harmlessly wide. Seconds later the
2006 Young Player of the Tournament squandered another opportunity -
and on 60 minutes his day would go from bad to worse when his
penalty following a Nemanja Vidic handball was saved.
Jovanovic very nearly sealed the points for Serbia when he curled
against the post following a smart run from Krasic, while Zigic
rattled the bar after climbing above his man.
England skipper Steven Gerrard hopes to be played
in an advanced role against Algeria as Gareth Barry prepares to
return in midfield.
Gerrard was forced to drop deeper during England's opening World Cup
game - a 1-1 draw against the United States - despite scoring
England's goal early on.
But the full recovery of Barry from the ankle injury which
threatened his participation in the tournament has cleared the way
for the Liverpool star to venture further up the pitch.
And the 30-year-old believes the return of Barry will strengthen
England for the meeting with the Algerians in Cape Town.
Gerrard said: "It is great to have Gareth back. He is a terrific
passer of the ball, he is so calm in possession.
"He gives protection to the two centre-halves if they need it and he
has been fantastic for England during the past two years.
"His return to the side really strengthens the starting XI."
Barry played a key part in England qualifying for the finals with
nine wins in 10 matches in giving Frank Lampard and Gerrard licence
to go forward.
The latter looks set to operate from the left, but the Liverpool
skipper is relishing the opportunity to play higher up the pitch.
He said: "It is not for me to prejudge what the manager is going to
do and I will do whatever job the manager asks me to do to the best
of my ability.
"But, if I am able to play in a more attacking role, then it suits
me and I will look forward to that."
Gerrard also believes it will only be a matter of time before Wayne
Rooney starts delivering the goal-power and form that established
him as one of the best players in the world during the past season.
Rooney has netted 25 goals for his country in 61 internationals but
only one in eight internationals during the past 12 months in
contrast to his form for Manchester United.
Gerrard said: "Wayne has looked great in training and it is only a
matter of time before he finds the back of the net and everyone says
he is on great form again.
"During the past season, he has been one of the best players in the
world - and it is only a matter of time before he is back to that
Gerrard is also optimistic England will improve on their performance
against the USA as they look to register their first win in the
He said: "We were pleased with the majority of the performance but
in the first game there is a lot of tension and pressure.
"Hopefully in this game you will see a more fluent performance from
England. We have looked sharp in training and everyone is looking
for a convincing win tomorrow."
Sotirios Kyrgiakos played a commanding role as
Greece came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1 and give themselves
a chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages of
the World Cup.
Liverpool's No.16 played the full 90 minutes as the Greeks battled
bravely to keep their last 16 hopes alive.
With both teams losing their opening Group B fixtures at the hands
of South Korea and Argentina respectively, the race to join Diego
Maradona's side in the last 16 was well and truly on.
Played at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, both sides adopted
a cautious approach with the fear of losing very much apparent, and
it took a freak goal to liven things up.
Nigeria opened the scoring after 15 minutes when a free-kick from
Kalu Uche, curled in from the left wing, evaded everybody in the box
and ended up in the back of the net.
Nigeria were reduced to 10 men after 33 minutes when Sani Kaita was
shown a straight red for kicking out.
Greece came close to an equaliser six minutes before half-time when
Vincent Salpigidis got clear but was denied by a point-blank stop
Celtic striker Giorgas Samaras went even closer from the resulting
corner when his effort was hacked off the line.
The pressure of the extra man told and a minute before the break
Greece found their salvation with the equaliser, and, again there
was a great deal of luck involved in the goal. Salpigidis's shot
took a wicked deflection to evade Enyeama and find the net.
Both sides had chances to win the game in the second half. Kyrgiakos
headed straight at Enyeama from a corner and the Nigeria stopper
then made a brilliant save to keep out Fanis Gekas.
Straight up the other end Yakubu found himself clean through but was
denied by Alexandros Tzorvas, before Chinedu Obasi missed an
absolute sitter from the rebound when he missed the target.
Greece got their winner 20 minutes from time when Vassilas Torosidis
slotted home from close range after the previously faultless Enyeama
horribly spilled a weak shot.
Next up for Kyrgiakos is an Anfield reunion with Javier Mascherano
and Maxi on Tuesday when Greece take on Argentina in the final group
Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez played
prominent roles as Argentina all-but booked their place in the
knockout stage with a superb 4-1 win over South Korea at the 2010
on Thursday afternoon.
The Reds duo featured for the full 90 minutes as a hat-trick from
Gonzalo Higuain and an own goal from Park Chu-Young saw Diego
Maradona's men ease into top spot in Group B.
Lee Chung-Yong did give South Korea brief hope with a goal on the
stroke of half-time but, in truth, La Albiceleste were a class above
throughout the contest and gave further evidence of why they are
real contenders to clinch a third World title with a vibrant
The result means Argentina are almost certain to progress to the
last 16 needing only to avoid a catastrophe in their final group
match against Sotirios Kyrgiakos's Greece on Tuesday night.
With a side boasting a plethora of attacking talent, it was no
surprise to see them assume the ascendancy from the off in
Johannesburg, with Angel Di Maria flashing a shot into the side
netting on four minutes.
It was clear that the Koreans were hoping to restrict Argentina as
much as possible, but their game-plan was thrown into disarray on 17
minutes when Maradona's men took the lead in somewhat fortuitous
Maxi stepped over a left-wing free-kick, leaving Lionel Messi to
curl in a delicious free-kick that crashed off the shin of striker
Chu-Young and into his own net.
It was a huge blow to Korean hopes and they were almost left
devastated just seconds later when Maxi fired just wide after an
ingenious Messi run was thwarted outside the penalty area.
A response was required and Ki Sung-yong went close to restoring
parity with a sensational 25 yard dipper that careered past the
If anything the fright seemed to anger the Argentines and after
Carlos Tevez was unlucky to see a superb free-kick sizzle over the
bar, they doubled their advantage just after the half hour.
Once again Maxi was involved, exchanging a short free-kick with
Messi before crossing for Higuain to nod home after a clever
flick-on from substitute Nicolas Burdisso.
It could have been worse for Huh Jung Moo's side too, but Jung
Sung-Ryong redeemed himself with a super stop to deny Di Maria after
he had initially failed to collect Higuain's cross.
Messi then threatened to score a goal that his manager would have
been proud of on the stroke of half-time, weaving past three
defenders before dinking a sublime effort just beyond the right-hand
It could so easily have been four or five but deep into first-half
stoppage time, the Koreans were handed a lifeline.
A long ball forward seemed to pose no danger for the Argentine
defence until a defensive lapse from Martin Demichelis allowed Chung
Yong to pip him to the ball and clip a smart finish beyond Sergio
However, it did little to alter the pattern of the game and
following the restart Argentina resumed control. Not even the
introduction of Kim Nam-il, the man dubbed 'the hoover' could stop
the flow of Messi.
Indeed, it should have been three within minutes of the restart, but
Sung-Ryong showed brilliant reactions to keep out Higuain's close
It was one-way traffic throughout, but on the hour mark Argentina's
defensive set-up was called into question again when Yeom Ki-hun
burst through, only to power his shot past the onrushing 'keeper and
into the side netting.
Against tougher opposition such lapses could prove costly, but not
on this occasion, as they wrapped up victory on 76 minutes when
Messi surged down the left, saw his first shot saved by Sung-Ryong,
before his follow-up bounced off the post for Higuain to tap home.
And they saved the best for last, when a sensational move involving
Messi and substitute Sergio Aguero ended with Higuain nodding home
to complete his treble on 81 minutes.
Fernando Torres could not prevent Spain from
crashing to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game of the World Cup
finals as Switzerland produced one of the shocks of the tournament
so far on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite a dominant first-half showing, the European champions fell
behind to Gelson Fernandes's scrappy 52nd minute strike, which came
firmly against the run of play.
Torres was introduced from the substitutes' bench shortly after, but
for all their possession, the Spaniards were unable to muster an
equaliser and the Swiss held on for a famous victory.
Liverpool's No.9 joined clubmate Pepe Reina in starting the game on
the bench in Durban as La Furia Roja went into the Group H opener
aiming to live up to heightened expectations following their
stunning European Championship success of two years ago.
An own goal by Daniel Agger and a late Dirk Kuyt
effort helped Holland begin their World Cup campaign with a
comfortable victory over Denmark at Soccer City.
Both goals came in the second half after an assured first period of
defending by the Scandinavians, who constantly thwarted a Dutch
attack which appeared short of ideas without the injured Arjen
But the resistance was broken less than a 60 seconds into the second
half, when Robin van Persieís cross from the left was headed on by
Simon Poulsen - seemingly for a corner Ė but struck the back of
Agger and went in.
Kuyt doubled Hollandís advantage five minutes from the end to ensure
the highly-fancied Oranje a positive start in Group E.
Fernando Torres admits all of Liverpool's players
are still nursing the pain of a disastrous 2009/10 season.
The Reds could only muster a seventh-placed finish in the Premier
League last season, meaning they missed out on the gravy train of
the UEFA Champions League.
All of those connected with the club suffered over the course of the
campaign, with players, coaches and supporters unable to stop the
Star striker Torres admits he was left bitterly disappointed by
Liverpool's failings, but insists all of the squad know they must do
He especially feels for club captain and Merseyside native Steven
Gerrard, for whom results at Anfield mean more than most.
"This season Liverpool have been written and talked about a lot,"
Torres told the Daily Star.
"But what people forget is that fundamentally last season hurt the
players and the boss.
"The club means a lot to us and the fans mean a lot to us. We didn't
want to give them a season like that.
"Trust me when I tell you nobody will be hurting more than Stevie.
He is Mr Liverpool and he sees the Liverpool fans as family. Last
season really hurt him.
"He desperately wants to win the Premier League with Liverpool and
every season that he does not do it hurts a bit more."
Torres, who is currently on World Cup duty with Spain, hopes he will
get the chance to go head-to-head with his club colleague in South
Africa this summer as he believes Gerrard deserves to be strutting
his stuff on the biggest stage.
He added: "He is the best captain I have ever played under. As long
as we don't meet earlier, I see it being an England versus Spain
"They have fantastic players all over the pitch. I have been telling
the Spanish lads all about them.
"I see Gerrard and Rooney on the same level as Messi, Xavi, Kaka,
Ronaldo and the other top players.
"It would be a dream to play England in the final and an
England-Spain final would be a showcase of the two best nations in
Daniel Agger cannot wait to show the world what he
can do at his first major international tournament.
Despite breaking into the Danish side in 2005, Agger has yet to
feature in a big competition due to his country's failure to qualify
for the 2006 World Cup and the Euros two years later.
"Yes, there is a lot of excitement," he admitted, ahead of Monday's
opener against Holland.
"I think Denmark was a bit spoiled a few years ago and played in
almost every tournament, even though we are a small country. So yes,
the excitement is there."
Denmark have been pitted against Holland, Japan and Cameroon in
One concern for Agger is the Danish public expecting too much from
him and his teammates.
"People in Denmark don't often seem to believe in the team," said
"Then if we qualify for the World Cup or European Championships the
expectations go up an awful lot. They probably don't expect us to
win it, but they want us to go far. I'm sure that will be the same
Denmark are led by veteran coach Morten Olsen - the man who gave
Agger his international breakthrough five years ago.
"He gave me the chance with the national team quite early, so I am
grateful for that," said Liverpool's No.5.
"He is a really, really good coach. I can't say anything bad about
him. He knows everything about the game and is a proper football
England captain Steven Gerrard sees no reason why
Fabio Capello's side can't top Group C despite starting their World
Cup campaign with an unconvincing 1-1 draw against the USA.
England face Algeria next Friday before finishing their group games
against Slovenia on June 23 and Liverpool midfielder Gerrard
believes both encounters are winnable.
Gerrard, who produced one of his best displays in an England shirt,
gave his team the perfect start when, after only four minutes, he
ran on to Emile Heskey's pass before prodding the ball past Tim
Howard from virtually on the penalty spot.
However, the points were shared as Robert Green inexplicably allowed
Clint Dempsey's weak shot to slip out of his grasp and trundle over
the line five minutes before the interval.
Gerrard was in an upbeat mood after the match though, saying: "We
deserved better - just. It was a difficult game.
"The most important thing is not to lose the first game. The idea
was to win but we were unfortunate to let a poor goal in and
couldn't go on to win it. The target now has to be seven points.
"The American goal was one of those things - you can't criticise the
keeper. We have to get behind the goalkeeper and Robert will learn
from this, go from strength to strength and play an important part
down the line.
"He could make an important save to win us a game. The goal came as
a shock and it took us a while to get over it but I thought we
finished the game stronger."