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Shooting the Breeze: World Cup 2010 Day 12 - Group B Final Games

Nigeria missed out one an unlikely place in the next round of the World Cup by a single goal as Yakubu arguable missed the best chance any team will ever have to score a goal in these finals as they could only draw 2-2 with South Korea. Meanwhile, Argentina left it late to finally crack the stubborn Greek resistance and win 2-0 with both goals scored in the last 10 minutes.

With complex mathematics being applied throughout the last two games, it seemed that the Greeks had arrived with just one plan to play against the Argentines.

Lionel Messi was man-marked by Socratis Papastathopoulos as Otto Rehhagel opted to keep the Argentines out and hope for a snatched goal or a positive result in the other match. It nearly work as well as a much changed Argentina side worked the ball well but could find little joy against the massed ranks of the Greeks.

All the excitement seemed to be in the Nigeris vs South Korea match where Nigeria capitalised on uncharacteristic mistakes to go 1-0 up in the 12th minute with Uche scoring his second goal of the tournament and hitting the woodwoork soon afterwards.

South Korea equalised through Lee Jung-Soo from a set piece after 38 minutes and then took the lead soon after the break when Park Chu-Young struck a low free kick round the Nigerian wall to score direct.

Yakubu missed the golden chance of the World Cup so far when he was laid on a golden chance to equalise when Yussuf crossed and the Everton striker conspired to miss the open goal from point blank range.

Credit to the big striker, though, Yakubu finally had a chance to atone for his earlier howler to send the 'keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot when Kim Nam-Il felled Chinedu Obasi in the area. With 20 minutes to go Nigeria knew they had to score to have any kind of chance.

When Argentina finally took the lead against Greece in the other game, the Nigerians knew one more goal would send them through but Obafemi Martins and Victor Obinna spurned their last chances to join the Argentines in the next round.

Greece had stuck rigidly to their gamble that they could get a result in the Nigeria vs South Korea match and perhaps secure something in their match even if it was a draw against Argentina.

In the end, the result they wanted, a Nigeria win and a draw against Argentina, failed to come for them but they will feel they only fell short by a matter of minutes and some woodwork.

Martin Demichelis reacted first to the ball bouncing off Diego Milito from a set piece and lashed home the first Argentine goal into the top of the Greek net.

The game finally opened up in the last few minutes and Lionel Messi started to break away from his marker but he saw one effort come back off the post but the other was palmed away by the superb Alexandros Tzorvas but only fell to veteran striker Martin Palermo who finally made sure of victory one minute from time with a sidefooted finish.

With permutations changing throughout the match, this group was tighter than many, but perhaps in this case the best performing teams have progressed from the group stages this time.


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