Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Netherlands 4 - Romania 0; Hungary 1 - Turkey 1; Estonia 2 - Andorra 0

Tallinn was the site for the bottom-of-the-table clash between visiting Andorra and Estonia.  the first half had a couple chances zoom just wide of frame, but mere seconds into stoppage time a goal appeared.  Konstantin Vassiljev made a brilliant pass off a half-volley with the outside of his foot to set up Henri Anier from fifteen yards for a cracking strike that gave Estonia a 1-0 lead at halftime.

At the hour mark, Estonia were able to get a second header inside the box in succession with Tarmo Kink found Joel Lindpere, and as the truism states, two headers in the box equates to a goal.  Lindpere would score to double the home side's lead.  Three minutes later, it took a charge off his line for Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes to slide tackle away from an open Vassiljev.  With under ten minutes to go, a Lindpere cross from the end line gave Andres Oper a header chance which Oper turned onto the crossbar.  A late Andorra chance went begging, so Estonia win 2-0.

Istanbul was the site of the day's crucial encounter in Group D with Hungary coming into to town to face Turkey.  Midway through the period, some heroics were needed from Turkey goalkeeper Onur Kivrak to twice deny Vilmos Vanczak, whose initial open header from a free kick was parried to the side from where his second attempt struck Kivrak and climbed onto the crossbar and back into play.  Turkey really should have gone ahead with five minutes left in the half when Nuri Sahin chested a ball down in the box for Burak Yilmaz to take a shot, but Yilmaz aimed his effort wide right.  Yilmaz was a man possessed for the remainder of the half, but Turkey had to settle for a 0-0 score at the break.

As the game entered its final half hour, Turkey entered the lead.  A stinging cross by Arda Turan found Yilmaz from five yards out, and Yilmaz made no mistake as his header nutmegged the goalkeeper and thrust his side into the lead.  Nine minutes on, Hungary had a long throw-in.  Tamas Kadar unleashed a deep throw, and the bounce prevented a clearance by Turkey center back Semih Kaya, so Daniel Bode cranked the loose ball off the bottom of the crossbar and in to equalize for Hungary.  The Magyars nearly had a second in quick succession off a corner kick, but the header from Richard Guzmics was sent wide left of goal.  The game ends in a 1-1 draw.

Romania were looking to take second-place all for themselves, but a tough trip to Amsterdam to face Netherlands loomed as a difficult proposition.  Netherlands signaled their intentions early when Jeremain Lens sent in a perfect cross that Robin van Persie skied over the bar on the slide ten minutes into the match.  van Persie received a slotted pass two minutes later that he laid off for Rafael van der Vaart.  From the half circle, van der Vaart rolled the ball with perfect placement for the opening goal.  Netherlands took the 1-0 with them into their locker room.

In perhaps the best goal we have seen the entire month in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, van Persie headed from the most obtuse of angles, hitting the far netting off the far post with a header from the opposite corner of the six-yard box following a chip from Arjen Robben.  Florin Gardos put the Oranje on the penalty spot after his tackle from behind swept the legs from under Lens, and the conversion gave the Netherlands a 3-0 lead.  In the penultimate minute, Lens followed a hard shot from Adam Maher and tapped in the rebound to finish the scoring with a fourth goal.  Netherlands win 4-0 and a nearly into the field at Brasil 2014.

Netherlands 18 pts +18
Hungary 11 pts +5
Romania 10 pts 0
Turkey 7 pts 0
Estonia 6 pts -6
Andorra 0 pts -17

Henri Anier 45+1
Joel Lindpere 61

Burak Yilmaz 62

Daniel Bode 71

Rafael van der Vaart 11
Robin van Persie 55, 64 PK
Jeremain Lens 89

Match Reports:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyfHUkLzOG8 (Estonia v. Andorra)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jMED2ITEgk (Hungary v. Turkey)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3wEN53eOqk (Netherlands v. Romania)

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