THE DAY REPLAYED – An encore round of dazzling, post-match fireworks capped a day full of surprises on Jumeirah Beach. Day-one victors fell in three groups out of four, heightening locker room anxieties ahead of the last day of the group stage. United Arab Emirates proved too much for Solomon Islands in Group A, while Portugal were surprised by upstart Uruguay. Côte d’Ivoire relinquished the top slot to Japan in Group B, and Italy were unable to continue their winning ways in Group C, squandering an early lead in their loss to Russia.
After tough defeats on Tuesday, CONCACAF’s two representatives at Dubai 2009 – Costa Rica and El Salvador – are now destined to make early exits from the competition, as are African champions Nigeria and Bahrain. But life was a beach for those deserving sides who qualified for the quarter-finals with a day to spare.
Goal of the day
Coco 34’38’’, Portugal-Uruguay
Today’s honour goes to Uruguay’s Coco, whose stunning long-range strike sailed smartly into the far corner of the net to give his side a much-needed victory over powerful Portugal with just a minute remaining in the match.
Gloved goal-getter: Shortly after his side had fallen behind, Solomon Islands goalkeeper Fred Hale made amends by snapping a long shot that slipped through for the equaliser.
Acrobatic Stankovic: Dejan Stankovic smacked home a picture-perfect overhead strike, as well as a delightful volley after a punched ball from goalkeeper Abdullahi Isa fell right into his lap, as Nigeria became unwilling witnesses to his four-goal exhibition.
We’ll take it: Italy’s Paolo Palmacci got the first goal of his side’s match with Russia, after an errant ball took a fortuitous bounce off of his back and into the net. Palmacci later had a more purposeful, overhead kick slap the crossbar, as Italy tried to find their way back into the match.
Anything you can do, I can do better: Just seconds after El Salvador took the lead for the second time, Spain’s Javier Torres smashed home a stunning overhead kick to equalise for Spain. And he repeated the feat, slamming another equaliser directly from the kick-off that followed El Salvador’s third goal.
Rapid-fire start: In the opening moments of Japan’s match with Côte d’Ivoire, they peppered their opponents goal no less than four times, striking the post and forcing good saves in the process.
Three in three: As his third goal sliced into the Bahrain net, impressed onlookers could merely marvel at the fact that Brazil’s Buru required less than four minutes to score his hat-trick. He would add a fourth later on.
Have your say
Nico Jung of Switzerland, Mao of Brazil, and Diego of Uruguay were among the stingy goalkeepers whose efforts made Tuesday substantially less of a goalfest than Monday. Who will take home the adidas Golden Glove from Dubai 2009?