Yesterday was the final day of the summer season for many footballers as their international squads break up to begin the European domestic seasons. Despite having only one competitive match, the Euro qualifier between Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands, there was plenty of excitement to go around as there were quite a few entertaining friendlies for passionate fans and neutrals alike.
Northern Ireland vs. Faroe Islands
The lone competitive match of the day was Group C Euro 2012 qualifier that had the minnows from the Faroe Islands traveling to Belfast to take on Northern Ireland. A rainy night in Windsor Park had some very nice football to show for it as Norn Iron captain Aaron Hughes scored his first international goal, burying an early attempt. Chances kept coming for Northern Ireland as Steven Davis buried an opportunity 20 minutes after half-time. However, the star of the show was “the Derry Pele” Pat McCourt, who managed to earn himself two very nice goals and commanding the midfield throughout the game. Northern Ireland would finish the match winning 4-0, bringing them within 2 points of second place Slovenia with a game in hand. Pat “Messi” McCourt’s second goal, a fantastic effort weaving through the Faroe defense can be seen below.
Brazil vs. Germany
Elsewhere, the friendly between Brazil and Germany was probably the most entertaining match of the day. Although the Germans dominated most of the possession in the first half, they could not manage to break ahead until early on in the second when Bastian Schweinsteiger netted a penalty. Mario Gotze would follow it up a few minutes later latching onto a great through ball from Schweinsteiger. Robinho would get one back for Brazil on a penalty following a foul in the box on Dani Alves, but it would not be enough as Schweinsteiger assisted Andre Schurrle in the 80th minute to put the Germans up 3-1. Neymar managed to earn a consolation goal as he fired home a clinical finish from outside of the box making the final score 3-2. All the goals below:
Italy vs. Spain
Italy and Spain faced off in a match that will sadly have impact on the upcoming domestic seasons as it saw both Fernando Torres (concussion) and Gerard Pique (thigh) both pick up injuries. Ricardo Montolivo scored early on following a nice run of play with a chipped finish off the bottom of the crossbar. Xabi Alonso blasted a penalty past Buffon after a foul in the box on Fernando Llorente to even the score. Alberto Acquilani put a deflected shot past Victor Valdes in the 84th minute to give Italy the lead and the win. Italy appear to be bouncing back from their World Cup woes quite nicely as they sit atop Group C. All the goals below:
France vs. Chile
France and Chile played a good close contest. The scoring was started in the 19th minute when Loic Remy beautifully headed home a cross from Karim Benzema. The game was a testy affair that saw the sides earn a total of five yellow cards and had a goal from France’s Kevin Gameiro disallowed. Chile would eventually equalize late in the game, following a nice run of play and great assist from Alexis Sanchez before Nicolas Codova fired home a perfectly placed shot. Both goals below:
Ivory Coast vs. Israel
The Ivory Coast and Israel played a very entertaining game as well that saw the sides score a total of 7 goals. Cote d’Ivoire jumped out to early lead following first half goals from Yaya Toure and Didier Ya Konan and added another after the half from Didier Zokora. Israel would fight back though, with a 78th minute goal from Itay Shechter and an 80th minute goal from Maor Melikson. It wasn’t meant to be though for the blue and white side as Didier Drogba converted from the penalty spot just two minutes later giving Cote d’Ivoire the 4-2 lead. Melikson would peg back a consolation goal in the closing moments of the game, giving him a brace for the evening in an entertaining affair in Switzerland. All seven goals here:
United States vs. Mexico
The Philadelphia crowd was in form as America took the field, sadly the USMNT’s level of play was not up for the occasion early on, with Mexico dominating possession and earning the majority of the scoring chances in the first half. Oribe Peralta would score from a nice flick on a pass from Andreas Guardado after a short corner to give Mexico the early lead in the 17th minute. Despite several more scoring chances, Mexico would be unable to put any additional shots on target for the remainder of the game.
The second half saw a reinvigorated USA squad take the field and gain a larger share of the scoring chances. Guillermo Ochoa, fresh off his “tainted meat” suspension from the Mexican squad, made a nice save on a header from American captain Carlos Bocanegra. The introduction of Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea, and Robbie Rogers into the game saw the USA attacking with more vigor and they were rewarded a few minutes later when Robbie Rogers slotted home the equalizer following a perfect pass from Shea in the 73rd minute. Rogers and Shea’s immediate impact on the game was continued as the USA enjoyed several more scoring chances in the final 20 minutes. Landon Donovan drew shouts for a penalty when he was taken down in the box by Francisco Rodriguez. There were additional cries for a red card when Gerardo Torrado pulled down Robbie Rogers, who looked to be clear in on goal. Torrado was only shown the yellow card and the match ended even at 1-1. Full match highlights can be found here:
Klinsmann lived up to expectations in his first match as manager, making impactful substitutions and showing faith in the youth that he had brought into the squad. Despite both sides missing key players, Mexico’s Javier Hernandez and USA’s Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, both sides looked good for stretches of time. I look forward to the next time the USMNT take the field on September 2nd against Costa Rica and a true test against Belgium on September 6th.