Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bulgaria 1 - Denmark 1; Czech Republic 3 - Armenia 0; Italy 2 - Malta 0

Czech Republic made the trek to Yerevan to face Armenia.  On a perfect counter attack, Armenia's Henrikh Mkhitaryan ran the ball from his own box to the middle of the Czech half of the field before he passed to his left to give Yura Movsisyan the shot, but Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech made the kick save.  Armenia were the better team for the first half hour, but the Czechs began to kick into gear as the half wound down.  The half ended as it began: goalless.

Two minutes into the second period, the Czechs were on the board.  A Jaroslav Plasil cross was met by a leaping Matel Vydra, whose header goal was his first for his country.  With under ten minutes to go, Vydra doubled his personal haul after winning a jump ball and then dribbling into open space before firing around the goalkeeper and into the net.  The Czechs added a third in stoppage time as Armenia were caught too far forward.  Tomas Rosicky hit a half-field through ball to Daniel Kolar who did the rest.  Czech Republic leave with a a 3-0 win tonight to celebrate Cech's hundredth appearance for the national side.

Bulgaria came to Copenhagen to take on Denmark in the glamour match of the night in Group B.  Denmark were sure they had the lead when Nicolai Stokholm met a cross at the back post, but a miraculous save by Bulgaria goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov left the Danes in disbelief.  Georgi Milanov tried to gift Denmark a goal when he attempted a clearance from his butt after having slipped, but luckily for him the resulting Danish shot was sent wide of goal.  The first half ended at 0-0.

Ivelin Popov began a breakaway for Bulgaria and then relesed Aleksandar Tonev up the left flank.  Tonev sent in a teasing ball across the box, and Stanislav Manolev was the first person to get to it just ahead of his sliding marker, and Manolev's first-time finish put the visitors ahead 1-0.  Denmark drew a penalty kick when Andreas Cornelius (pictured, red) was felled in the box, and the penalty was converted to even the scoreline at one goal apiece.  The match ends in a 1-1 draw that suits Bulgaria much more than it does Denmark.

Ta'Qali was the site for the match between home side Malta and visiting footballing giants Italy.  Italy could calm their nerves early after Stephan El Shaarawy was clipped in the box and dramatically emphasized the extent of the contact from Luke Dimech.  The penalty kick was put away by Mario Balotelli, and Italy led 1-0.  Malta were right back in the match when a Roderick Briffa through ball put Andre Schembri ahead of the defense.  Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tripped Schembri knee-to-knee, and Malta had themselves a penalty kick.  Captain Michael Mifsud stepped up to take the spot kick, but Buffon saved his shot low and to the right.  Minutes later, Mifsud cranked an effort on a solo run from twenty-seven yards that looped over Buffon and collided flush with the crossbar.  Balotelli scored in the final minute of the half when he provided a drop pass outlet for Mattia de Sciglio as de Sciglio was running out of real estate at the opposite goal line.  Balotelli one-timed the pass into the far side netting, giving Italy a 2-0 lead at the break.

The second half was much calmer with the stronger side having already done the brunt work in the first half and Malta having already thrown its best punches.  Italy win 2-0.

Italy 13 pts +8
Bulgaria 10 pts +7
Czech Rep 8 pts +2
Denmark 6 pts +1
Armenia 3 pts -5
Malta 0 pts -13

Czech Republic
Matel Vydra 47, 81
Daniel Kolar 90+4

Stanislav Manolev 51

Daniel Agger 63 PK

Mario Balotelli 8 PK, 45

Match Reports:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZFwjZEALNE (Czech Republic v. Armenia)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6CSntelzU8 (Bulgaria v. Denmark)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJz7uIVHQ0E (Italy v. Malta)

No comments: