HEADLINES
1107: World Cup joy for Torres and Pepe
0807: Spanish Reds make The Final
0607: Kuyt helps Holland to World Cup Final
0607: Torres sweating on semi place
0407: Torres puts Hodgson talks on hold
0307: Dream over for Masch and Maxi
0307: Carra quits after 'one-off' return
0207: Joy for Dirk in Port Elizabeth
3006: Torres: I'm not worried
3006: Goal-hero Villa rallies behind Torres
2806: Kuyt joy, Skrtel pain
2706: Mexico delight for duo
2706: Gerrard predicts new-look England
2706: Del Bosque: Torres still dangerous
2506: Torres and Spain march on
2406: Mixed emotions for Reds trio
2406: Skrtel's Slovakia stun Italy
2306: Gerrard salutes fighting spirit
2306: Greece out
2206: Spain boss backs Torres
1906: Carra: Fans have right to boo
1906: Gerrard: Not good enough
1906: Hero Jovanovic sinks Germany
1706: Gerrard hoping for forward role
1706: Soto's Greece earn first win
1706: Duo feature in Korea rout
1606: Swiss shock for Torres
1406: Contrasting fortunes for Liverpool
          pair as Holland dispatch Denmark

1306: Torres still hurting
1306: Carragher: Draw not a disaster
1306: Agger: My chance to shine
1206: Gerrard refuses to criticise Green for error

 






Torres with the WC trophy - and Liverpool-scarf. GREAT!!!
(Photo: Getty Images)


 


VIVA ESPANA !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

JULY 11
World Cup joy
for Torres and Pepe


LFC Official Website

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 the floor.

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 medal.


JULY 8
Spanish Reds make The Final

Vital Football - Liverpool

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 future.

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.


JULY 6
Kuyt helps Holland
to World Cup Final


This is Anfield

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 too late.

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 (kick-off 7.30pm).

Congratulations, Dirk!


JULY 6
Torres sweating on semi place

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 Paraguay.

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 be unbelievable.

"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 more.

"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."


JULY 4
Torres puts Hodgson
talks on hold


BBC Sport Online

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 Chelsea.

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 Milan.

Since then Hodgson has taken over the reins at Anfield with the former Fulham boss saying he hoped he could hang onto his star players.

"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 Christmas.

"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 of surgery.

"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."


JULY 3
Dream over for Masch and Maxi

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

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 three minutes.

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.


JULY 3
Carra quits after 'one-off' return

TEAMtalk

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 Carragher.

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 Africa.

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."


JULY 2
Joy for Dirk in Port Elizabeth

This is Anfield

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 inswinging corner.

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.


JUNE 30
Torres: I'm not worried

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

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 scintillating best.

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 arrive soon.

"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 offer."

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 football.

"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 for itself.

"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 April 8.

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 sharpness.

But the striker claims inclusion in Vicente Del Bosque's 23-man squad for South Africa provided a boost of confidence ahead of the tournament.

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 Ronaldo.

"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 pitch.

"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 years ago.

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 this chance.

"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."


JUNE 30
Goal-hero Villa
rallies behind Torres


ITN

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.

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.


JUNE 28
Kuyt joy, Skrtel pain

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

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.


JUNE 27
Mexico delight for duo

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

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 brilliant strike.

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?


JUNE 27
Gerrard predicts new-look England

By John Curtis - Press Association Sport, Bloemfontein

Skipper Steven Gerrard expects there to be changes in the England squad for the Euro 2012 campaign but he has urged Fabio Capello to remain as manager.

The chances of the so called 'Golden Generation' to win a major tournament may have ended after England were beaten 4-1 in their World Cup second round match by Germany in Bloemfontein.

The likes of Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Emile Heskey are already over 30 while David James will be 40 in August.

Gerrard said: "Everyone in the dressing room is hurting, the coaching staff and the players.

"We'll go away in the summer and analyse things personally and the team.

"We'll have to see what the future holds. We've got an experienced team and players who are getting on.

"I'm sure there'll be changes by the time the next tournament comes around.

"But they're questions you'll have to ask the manager."

As for Capello's future, Gerrard said: "I'm sure Fabio will stay and he'll address his own situation very soon.

"I don't know when. Personally I'd like him to stay as I think he's a fantastic manager but that's my opinion."

Gerrard refused to lay the blame for England's failure down to the match officials not allowing a 38th-minute equaliser when Frank Lampard's shot had clearly crossed the goalline.

He said: "If you look at the game as a whole we've been beaten by the better team.

"We had good parts of the game where we passed the ball well and got into good areas.

"At 2-1, if Frank's goal would have counted it could have been a turning point in the game, but we can't use that as an excuse.

"They've scored four goals and we only got one, which tells its own story.

"We made too many mistakes as a team. Germany were more organised than us and were more clinical.

"They got in five or six times and scored four goals so you've got to give them credit.

"Germany were the better team over the 90 minutes, but even at 2-0 and 2-1 I had confidence we could win the game. The third goal was the killer."


JUNE 27
Del Bosque: Torres
still dangerous


TEAMtalk

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 an operation.

"I think I'm still a little away from being 100%, although I'm close."

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 Tuesday.

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 than ever.

"We've all seen the level that this team have and we know that we haven't reached that yet."


JUNE 25
Torres and Spain march on

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

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 place.

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 next week.


JUNE 24
Mixed emotions for Reds trio

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

There were contrasting emotions for Liverpool stars Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Daniel Agger on Thursday evening as Holland powered into the last 16 of the World Cup, but Denmark were sent crashing out.

The Netherlands set up a meeting with Martin Skrtel's Slovakia after they ensured a first-placed finish in Group E with a 2-1 win over Cameroon.

Kuyt figured for 67 minutes in Cape Town and played a key role in Robin Van Persie's opener, cleverly stepping over Rafael Van Der Vaart's pass to allow the Arsenal striker to drill home.

Cameroon threatened to end the Dutch's 100 per cent record in the tournament as Samuel Eto'o drew the Africans level with a second-half penalty.

However, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sealed another victory for Holland with an 87th minute tap in after Arjen Robben's shot had cannoned against the post.

Babel remained an unused substitute for Oranje, while elsewhere in Group E there was disappointment for Agger after Denmark suffered a 3-1 defeat to Japan in Rustenburg.

Both sides went into the clash with hopes of making the knockout phase, but the Japanese raced into a two-goal first-half lead thanks to stunning free-kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo.

The Danes rarely looked like getting back into the contest, although Agger helped give them late hope when he won a penalty which allowed Jon Dahl Tomasson to reduce the arrears on 81 minutes.

But Japan made certain of the three points when substitute Shinji Okazaki netted just moments later.


JUNE 24
Skrtel's Slovakia stun Italy

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

Martin Skrtel's Slovakia produced one of the shocks of the World Cup as they beat defending champions Italy 3-2 on Thursday afternoon.

Robert Vittek was the hero of the hour, netting a superb brace, as the Fighting Jondas held on to earn the three points and claim a spot in the last 16 on their first ever appearance at the finals.

Substitute Kamil Kopunek was also on target for Vladimir Weiss's men to ensure they finished in second place, behind Group F winners Paraguay.

Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Quagliarella were the goalscorers for the Azzurri, who will now head home following a disastrous defence of the trophy.


JUNE 23
Gerrard salutes fighting spirit

Sky Sports

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 World Cup.

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 Stadium.

"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.

Consistency
"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 the goods.

"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 were terrific."

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.


Doubts
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 quality.

"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."


JUNE 23
Greece out

By Al Campbell - LFC Online

Sotirios Kyrgiakos's World Cup adventure is over.

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.


JUNE 22
Spain boss backs Torres

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

Vicente Del Bosque has backed Fernando Torres to hit the World Cup goal trail after the Reds striker drew a blank in Spain's 2-0 win over Honduras on Monday night.

La Roja now need to defeat Group H leaders Chile to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16 and Del Bosque reckons their hopes have been enhanced by Torres's return to fitness.

"Fernando is a great player, he knows really knows how to play on the limits of offside," he said.

"He has just recovered from an injury but he looks on top form physically. Let's hope in the next match he can do more sterling work for our side."


JUNE 19
Carra: Fans have right to boo

TEAMtalk

Jamie Carragher has defended the right of England fans to criticise the team if they produce the kind of performance evident against Algeria.

England's World Cup future is hanging in the balance after a goalless draw in Cape Town means they have to overcome Slovenia on Wednesday.

The final whistle was greeted with boos from some sections of fans and this led to them being criticised by Rooney.

But Carragher feels they are entitled to air their opinions particularly after spending considerable amounts of money to follow the team to South Africa.

The Liverpool defender said: "I feel the supporters in the stadium were perfectly entitled to boo the team. I've never had a problem with that.

"I've always said fans should support during the game but, at the end, they're right to let us know when they're not happy.

"It's not as if they've only travelled around the corner to watch us.

"We're on the other side of the world and they've paid a lot of money and made a lot of effort to come and see us do well.

"We need to give them something to cheer about.

"I think we have to applaud the fans for the support they've given us and make sure we're here a lot longer."

Carragher is aware of the criticism the team will receive for their inept showing although little of it will filter through to their Rustenburg base.

He said: "We know there will be a lot of criticism flying around.

"To be honest, we don't get much of a sense of what's happening, or what's being said at home, whether it's negative or positive and that's probably for the best.

"I've been at tournaments where we've played well and the country was buzzing back home, but you had no sense of it.

"It's the same when the reaction is negative. I'll get texts and hear things, but you have to take the rough with the smooth and get on with your job."

Carragher believes England can still retrieve the situation and points to his earliest memories of the World Cup to back up this claim.

He said: "England have recovered from this kind of situation before.

"Some of my first memories of watching football as a kid were of the World Cup in 1986 and 1990. People look back at those tournaments now and say we did well.

"We were unlucky against Argentina in 1986 and got to the semis in 1990 - but I remember a lot of criticism of the side after their first two games of both tournaments.

"We lost one and drew one in Mexico and drew the first two games in Italy.

"It's not about how you start, it's about how you're playing in the later stages, which is why we're desperate to improve and put these two games behind us."

Carragher admitted: "I expected the first game against the USA to be cagey, but there is no getting away from the fact it was disappointing against Algeria.

"In a funny way, if we get out of this situation I believe it will help us.

"Sometimes when you only have one last chance, if you get through it, there's a momentum which builds and the team spirit gets stronger.

"Sometimes the bigger the game, the more it brings out of us as a team. We know exactly what we have to do now. It's effectively starting the knockout stage now.

"Everything is on a knife edge. We have to go out there and win and it's possible a lot of the tension of the first few games will go. There will be no backwards steps now.

"There's no need for us to play with any fear. It shouldn't be an issue. They're the same players who did so well in qualifying and reproducing that form will see us turn the situation around."


JUNE 19
Gerrard: Not good enough

By Danny Wright - Sky Sports

England captain Steven Gerrard gave a frank assessment of his side's performance as they laboured to a tame draw against Algeria.

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 earn victory.

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 Italian's team.

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 Port Elizabeth.

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 enough."

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.

"But we've got to look at ourselves."


JUNE 19
Hero Jovanovic sinks Germany

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Milan Jovanovic was the Serbian hero as they completed a shock World Cup victory over 10-man Germany on Friday lunchtime.

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 restart.

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.


JUNE 17
Gerrard hoping for forward role

TEAMtalk

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 form."

Gerrard is also optimistic England will improve on their performance against the USA as they look to register their first win in the tournament.

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."


JUNE 17
Soto's Greece earn first win

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

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 from Enyeama.

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 game.


JUNE 17
Duo feature in Korea rout

By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website

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 World Cup
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 display.

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 fashion.

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 upright.

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 post.

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 Romero.

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 range volley.

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.


JUNE 16
Swiss shock for Torres

By James Caroll - LFC Official Website

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.


JUNE 14
Contrasting fortunes for Liverpool
pair as Holland dispatch Denmark


BreakingNews.ie

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 Robben.

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.


JUNE 13
Torres still hurting

Sky Sports

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 rot.

Star striker Torres admits he was left bitterly disappointed by Liverpool's failings, but insists all of the squad know they must do much better.

He especially feels for club captain and Merseyside native Steven Gerrard, for whom results at Anfield mean more than most.

Family
"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."

Leader
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 final.

"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 world football."


JUNE 13
Carragher: Draw not a disaster

ITV Football

Jamie Carragher admits England will be under pressure for the finale of their World Cup group against Slovenia in 10 days time if they fail to overcome Algeria on Friday.

The Liverpool defender insists sharing the spoils with the United States in their opening clash on Saturday night in Rustenburg was "not a disaster."

But Carragher, a half-time substitution for the injured Ledley King, knows the importance of not suffering a similar slip-up in Cape Town when they tackle the Algerians.

When asked if the players were now feeling under pressure, Carragher said: "The lads play for top clubs in top competitions and it's always pressure playing for your club and playing for England.

"I don't think we are at that stage yet. If the next result doesn't go for us, then for the last game there will be a bit more pressure.

"A draw is not a disaster in your first game. Obviously you want to win it but it is very important not to lose as well.

"We would have liked to have got the three points but the first game in tournament football is always very difficult.

"It has proved that in the past and it has proved it again. There are still two more games to go.

"It was not a one-off game. It is the group stages and the aim is to get through in the top two."

Carragher was disappointed England failed to capitalise on the early lead given them by skipper and Reds team-mate Steven Gerrard.

But he insists all the players have sympathy with keeper Robert Green after his error gifted Fulham's Clint Dempsey an equaliser.

Carragher said: "When you get a good start like we had, you are disappointed to give the lead away.

"We also had the better chances in the second half to win it but that's the way it goes sometimes.

"You feel for Robert Green. We've all been playing football a long time. We've all made big mistakes.

"Everyone of the players on the pitch has made a mistake like that.

"Everyone knows what he is going through. We will all get behind him because it is a team thing, a squad thing."

Carragher gave his backing to coach Fabio Capello who brought off out of sorts James Milner after only half an hour and then was forced to take off King.

He said: "Ledley had a knock so that's why he came off. I am not sure why James Milner came off, maybe something to do with the yellow card he has just picked up.

"That is what the manager is there for. He is a top manager and he is paid to make decisions and that is what he has done."


JUNE 13
Agger: My chance to shine

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

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 Group E.

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 the 25-year-old.

"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 this summer."

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 man."


JUNE 12
Gerrard refuses
to criticise Green for error


By Ben Moss - Sport.co.uk

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."


Thor Zakariassen ©