On the final day of group matches, Germany beat the U.S. 1-0, a
result that put both teams through from Group G, while Algeria's 1-1
draw with Russia saw them join already-qualified Belgium in the
second round for the first time from Group H.
Germany will now play Algeria on Monday in Porto Alegre while
Belgium will battle with the U.S. in Salvador on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, Ghana, South Korea and Russia were the
day's casualties with all heading home.
Much of the talk in the last few days has, however, been about bad
behavior marring an otherwise excellent tournament and events took
another explosive turn on Thursday.
Uruguay's mercurial striker Suarez was handed a nine-match ban by
FIFA - the biggest imposed at a World Cup - for biting Italy
defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday's group match and been
suspended from any football-related activity for four months.
"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in
particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of
people are on the stars on the field," soccer's world governing body
said in a statement.
Uruguay's FA president Wilmar Valdez said they would appeal, while
its government will meet to discuss "options" relating to the ban,
which ends Suarez's World Cup involvement and forces him to miss the
first two months of the English season.
Suarez, voted England's Footballer of the Year after scoring 31
league goals for Liverpool last term, has now been involved in three
incidents of biting opponents, and one of racial abuse.
The latest ban means the 27-year-old will have missed 34 matches in
total as punishment for those offences.
Coming two days before their team's last 16 match against Colombia,
many Uruguayans slammed the latest sanction as exaggerated,
hypocritical, or even biased. Others, such as ex-Brazil striker
Ronaldo, weren't so sympathetic.
"If my kids bite me they are punished in the dark room with the big
bad wolf: that's the soccer equivalent," he said.
Ghana's preparations for their Brasilia match with Portugal were
less than ideal. Before kickoff they confirmed key midfielders
Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari had been suspended after
they clashed with coach Kwesi Appiah and a Ghana Football
Association (GFA) official. [ID:nL6N0P73AK]
Boateng was sanctioned following "vulgar verbal insults targeted at
coach Kwesi Appiah during the team's training session in Maceio this
week," the GFA said.
Muntari's punishment was handed down after he punched an executive
committee member of the GFA. The incident happened during a meeting
over unpaid money as senior players rounded on team officials for
not keeping promises, a team source said.
Germany negotiated torrential rain in Recife to ensure they topped
Group G with a 55th minute Thomas Mueller goal, the prolific forward
collecting a loose ball on the edge of the area and superbly
side-footing into the bottom corner.
The Germans dominated the game with Juergen Klinsmann's team
creating very few chances and finished top of the group on seven
points, followed by the U.S. (4), Portugal (4) and Ghana (1).
[to top of second column]
Portugal talisman Ronaldo scored his first goal of the tournament
against Ghana but the 2-1 result was not enough to avoid an exit on
goal difference behind the U.S. - which might have been avoided had
Ronaldo converted three great chances.
Ghana's John Boye sliced a cross into his own net after 31 minutes
to hand Portugal the lead, before Asamoah Gyan met a lovely Kwadwo
Asamoah cross 12 minutes into the second half.
The header marked his sixth World Cup goal making him the
highest-scoring African in finals history. Both sides then missed
chances before Ronaldo found the net in the 80th minute.
In Group H already qualified Belgium beat South Korea 1-0 with a
78th minute goal from defender Jan Vertonghen, despite losing
midfielder Steven Defour to a 45th minute red card after a needless,
studs-up challenge on Kim Shin-wook.
Korea's defeat rounded off a miserable tournament for the four Asian
sides, also including Australia, Japan and Iran, who failed to
muster a win between them and all finished bottom of their groups.
On a momentous night for Algeria, the North Africans took second
spot after Islam Slimani's powerful header on the hour canceled out
Alexander Kokorin's superb sixth minute opener, dumping Russia, who
needed a win, out of the tournament.
The group finished with Belgium on nine points, followed by Algeria
(4), Russia (2) and South Korea (1).
It was the first time two African sides had reached the last 16 with
the Algerians joining Nigeria in the second round.
Elsewhere, Argentina striker Sergio Aguero's World Cup looks to be
over after he suffered a muscle tear in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the
Brazil's Neymar also did his best not to add to the player
headlines. The forward won an appeal to have the local June edition
of Playboy magazine, which claimed to feature an ex-girlfriend,
removed from the news stands.
(Additional reporting by Mike Collett, William Schomberg, Iain
Rogers, Mark Gleeson, and Caroline Stauffer in Brazil, Malena
Castaldi in Montevideo; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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