1. Diving Header Of The Day
Do you even have to ask? Robin van Persie’s brilliantly soaring header which put the Netherlands on the way to their remarkable 5-1 win over Spain has to take the goal of the day award too, as it was a skill which is so difficult but was performed in a manner which made it look simple. Van Persie and the Netherlands owe a lot to the excellent cross from Daley Blind, and on a day which will live long in World Cup folklore this goal probably deserves its own special place too.
2. Rubbish High Five Of The Day
You could probably have celebrated it better though, Robin.
3. ‘I’ve Seen That Goal Before’ Of The Day
Tim Cahill. Back post. Header. How didn’t Chile see that coming? The 34-year-old Aussie joins Van Persie in becoming one of the rare players to score at three different World Cups. The goals probably all looked like this one did, too.
4. Wrong Decision(s) Of The Day
Why do we get the feeling that this will be a regular feature? Following the failings of Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura in the opening match on Thursday, Colombia’s Wilmar Roldan Perez and his assistants took centre stage for Mexico v Cameroon in Natal as they ruled out two perfectly good Giovani Dos Santos goals. Dos Santos was onside both times he turned the ball into the back of the Cameroon net, but the flag was raised on both occasions, as were Mexican frustrations until Oribe Peralta’s winner.
5. Player Of The Day
Van Persie has a right to feel hard done by here, but the honour goes to Arjen Robben for his terrific performance in pinning Spain back in Salvador with a display of alarmingly blistering pace. Robben’s two goals were both taken expertly, and although we all know of his quality already, it was heartening to see such a fine display from a player who must still have nightmares over his miss when clean through in the World Cup final four years ago. On his day Robben is unstoppable.
6. Former Premier League Misfit Of The Day
This honour goes to Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje, who once spent three years on the books at Liverpool without actually managing to make it onto the pitch for a Premier League game. That was probably good news for the Reds as he invariably proved a liability when picked for cup matches, but he’s seemingly not enough of one to keep him out of the Cameroon reckoning. He made a good save from Peralta early in the second half, and that’s despite being late for a training session earlier this week because he got lost when trying to find a Bureau de Change. Priceless.
7. Masked Pain Of The Day
Netherlands defender Stefan De Vrij was just about to drop to the ground in agony when he collided with a post as everyone else was watching Van Persie and Iker Casillas smash into each other in the second half in Salvador. De Vrij then realised that the ball had hit him and crossed the line to put his side 3-1 up (although we’d need Fifa to confirm it) and so any pain he felt was instantly washed away. A call to the physio was replaced by him rushing towards the bench in celebration.
8. Wounded Pride Of The Day
Casillas and Spain won’t have experienced days like this before and they won’t want to ever again. It is too early to say that their remarkable 5-1 loss to the Netherlands represents the end of an era, but it isn’t out of order to call it wholly unacceptable. Pride, hearts and an air of invincibility have been wounded here, perhaps fatally.
9. A Little Pea-d Off Of The Day
Whereas one Manchester United forward had a day to remember in Salvador, another cut a frustrated figure in Natal. Javier Hernandez had started Mexico v Cameroon in his customary position on the bench, and he didn’t really give any indication that he’ll manage to get off it to start a match for his country any time soon. A delay in bringing him on already made him frustrated, and then he went and missed a sitter for good measure.
10. Classy Finish Of The Day
Let’s end on a high note though, and Jorge Valdivia’s well-crafted finish after 14 minutes of the clash against Australia in Cuiaba. At the time it looked as though the Aussies were going to get blown away by a vibrant Chile side, and although they deserved credit for getting themselves back into the game, this finish showcased the gap in quality between the sides that ultimately proved telling.
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