THE DAY REPLAYED - Two from Dudu, including a golden goal in minute 95, saw Brazil claw their way back from a one-goal deficit to sink brave Slovakia in Dubai. And just as it looked like the hosts were headed to extra time themselves, superstar Matar came up with the goods to send Australia packing in minute 89. Paraguay became the first South American side eliminated at the finals, losing out 0-1 to Spain, who have not conceded a goal since their opener with Argentina. Continental neighbours Colombia had the fright of their lives against Ireland, but managed to win out 3-2 thanks to an Erwin Carrillo golden goal.
Al Ain: Paraguay 0 – 1 Spain; Ireland 2-3 Colombia (Golden Goal)
Paraguay became the first South American competitor knocked out of the finals following a 0-1 loss to powerful European champions Spain. La Furia were the better side for the full 90 minutes, but the result was still up for grabs until minute 66 when Sergio Garcia, who had slammed an earlier attempt against the post, steamed through to send the regal Iberians well on their way to the Last Eight. But Rolando Chilavert’s men fought like warriors to the final whistle. After two good chances to haul themselves back from the precipice, Dante Lopez steamed in heroically on Spanish keeper Riesgo at the death. But after his shot skipped agonisingly wide, it was time for bitter tears. As the final whistle went, the brave Paraguayans sprawled on the floor in agony, while the classy Spaniards did all they could to console their vanquished, valiant foes in a familiar, soothing tongue.
olombia – one of the day’s three Conmebol competitors – kept up their reputation for inconsistency. After only eleven minutes, Victor Montano’s deadly through ball picked out star striker Edixon Perea racing on goal. A fabulous finish off the post and Perea was running to the Colombian bench, to hug each and every reserve and coach Reinaldo Rueda too. Quite comfortable moving the ball around, they looked like cruising when Montano turned scorer in minute 70. But two goals in seven minutes from Cork City’s Kevin Doyle (85’) and Paddy McCarthy (92’) sent the Irish – full of fighting spirit – into extra time. But on this occasion fortune did not favour the brave, as Erwin Carrillo finished off a fine move in minute 104 to send Colombia into the quarter-finals.
Sharjah: Brazil 2-1 Slovakia (Golden Goal); Australia 0 - 1 UAE
Brazil came oh-so-close to joining neighbours Paraguay in the breadline, down 0-1 with a little over a half-hour to go. Slovakian striker Filip Sebo, back from two-matches on the bench with a bout of flu, soared above the Brazilian backs to bang a fine header past keeper Jefferson with his first touch of the match. But despite a courageous second half from Slovak keeper Peter Kostolani, Brazil – stunned into response – finally found their ancestral form. With only seven minutes to go, a wicked cross from Daniel Carvalho was woefully mismanaged by Juraj Halenar, falling perfectly to the toes of Dudu who made no mistake, firing simply past Kostolani at full stretch. With the Slovaks down a man after seeing substitute Kamil Kopunek ejected in stoppage time, Brazil were simply too much to handle. The inevitable finally happened in minute 95. It was Dudu again. With acres of space to waltz into, all the harried Slovaks could do was watch and pray. But there was to be no mercy as the ball bulged the back of the net sending the Brazilians and their throngs of supporters into wild celebrations – a poignant counterpoint to the dignified, defeated Slovaks who marched off proudly.
smail Matar was every bit the shining star as he led his fairytale UAE on to victory before 15,000 screaming fans in the hosts’ first match outside of Abu Dhabi. With a gigantic flag draped the entire length of the main stand at the Sharjah stadium, the young captain was a constant source of frustration for the Group C-topping Aussies. Putting his head down and charging like a bull at the defence, he was an inspiration throughout the first half. But after 89 minutes without a climax to his heroics, the foraging captain set the Round of Sixteen alight with a goal at the very death – no less than his brilliant vision and desire deserved. Collecting a ball at the corner of the box and cutting inside, his swerving shot took a deflection off Spase Dilevski and bobbled, almost apologetically, beneath lunging Aussie keeper Nathan Coe.