It was so very nearly a glorious day yesterday for Concacaf and all who hashtag within her, if it wasn't for those pesky last 5 minutes.
First up we had Netherlands vs Mexico and the Mexicans desperately hanging on to the one goal lead that Giovanni Dos Santos gave them until Wesley Sneijder hammered home an equaliser in the 88th minute. The in injury time Arjen Robbed did what Arjen Robben does, a lot of fancy footwork to tempt the defender into trying a tackle, make sure there's a bit of contact and then sell it. Sell it hard! The ref blew for a penalty, the penalty was scored, the Dutch were through. Heartbreak for the Mexicans, but I must say the post game complaints about Robben cheating and the ref deciding the game were hilarious, the Mexicans outdone at their own game. The fact is was Rafa Marquez called for the foul was delicious.
So, the Empire struck back once to maintain it's pre assumed grip on things, next up it was two surprise qualifiers Costa Rica vs Greece. Once again Concacaf took the lead, Bryan Ruiz scuffing a shot in from the edge of the box, and despite going down to ten men, they once again took that lead into injury time. They'd knocked out Italy and England, could they add a 3rd European scalp? Well not that simply as Greece equalised in injury time and surely against ten men, Greece would prevail. they didn't, and their efforts included an absolutely terribly botched 5 on 2 breakaway, and so it sent to penalties.
It wasn't the greatest game but it was probably the highest quality penalty shootout I've ever seen, infinity times better than Brazil v Chile's shambles. 8 of 9 went in, not even close, and the one that was saved was a well struck penalty and all about the very difficult save. Costa Rica through, yes they could take another European scalp, though the extra time and the suspension surely can't help with their chances against the Netherlands in the quarter final.
Today, we get more of the footballing old guard hoping to maintain the status quo. First up France vs Nigeria at 12, followed by Germany against Algeria at 4. I'd back Germany to do what needs to be done, though I'd be less confident about France despite their cohesive, everyone's on the same page, high scoring exploits so far. At some point that has to stop, right?