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Saturday's Winners & Losers
by Paul Kennedy, June 22nd, 2014 12AM

TAGS:  germany, ghana, world cup 2014


[BRAZIL 2014] U.S. fans may have had their preference in the game, but neutrals could not help but love the shootout at Fortaleza, where Germany and Ghana displayed an attacking spirit that has come to represent Brazil 2014. Lionel Messi's goal rescued Argentina against Iran and kept up the impressive string of results for South American teams. On the other hand, the struggles of teams from Europe and especially Asia continued.

Winners ...

GERMANY-GHANA. Some will give you an argument about whether it was the best game of the World Cup, but there was no doubt the second half of Germany-Ghana was the best 45 minutes of this or any World Cup in recent memory. Four goals were scored as the lead went back and forth. But there was an attacking spirit from beginning to end that was quite extraordinary and had fans on the edge of their seats.

MIROSLAV KLOSE. Klose was on the field for only two minutes when he touched on Benedikt Hoewedes' flick header to score the equalizer and tie Ronaldo for the World Cup record with 15 career goals.

ASAMOAH GYAN. Except for his backheel on Andre Ayew's equalizer, Gyan had a quiet game against the USA in Natal, but he was a terror against Germany, creating all kinds of chances for himself and his partners Ayew and Ayew's brother, Jordan. He was rewarded with the go-ahead goal to become the sixth player at the 2014 World Cup to score in a straight tournament along with Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Tim Cahill, Clint Dempsey and Klose.

LIONEL MESSI. Messi rescued Argentina from an embarrassing tie with longshot Iran when he scored in stoppage time with another patented shot with his left foot from the edge of the penalty area.

SOUTH AMERICA. Messi's late winner for Argentina left South American teams with a record of five wins and one tie in the second set of games. The only team not win: host Brazil.

Matchday 2 Records:
2.67 South America (5-1-0)
1.33 Concacaf (1-1-1)
1.10 Europe (3-2-5)
1.00 Africa (1-1-2)
0.33 Asia (0-1-2)

Losers ...

EUROPE. Bosnia-Herzegovina became the third European team after Spain and England to get eliminated after two games when it dropped a 1-0 decision to Nigeria. In the six groups that have played two matches, just three of the 12 top two spots are held by European teams: Netherlands, France and Italy (on goal difference ahead of Uruguay).

PETER O'LEARY. Bosnia-Herzegovina, the only team at the World Cup making its first appearance, had a right to be upset with O'Leary, the game's referee from New Zealand and his crew for its early exit. Edin Dzeko called O'Leary "shameful" after he whistled the Manchester City for onside on his apparent first-half goal. Replays showed him to be at least a step onside when Zvjezdan Misimovic played him a through ball. Minutes later, Nigeria scored after the Bosnians felt Emmanuel Emenike had fouled Emir Spahic as he dribbled toward the goal and fed Peter Odemwingie for the game's lone goal. "Had they allowed the [Dzeko] goal," BiH coach Safet Susic said, "this would probably have changed the match. I was told in the dressing room that Dzeko was well onside. As far as the reported foul on Spahic, if the referee didn't whistle there was no foul."

ASIA. Despite a valiant effort, Iran fell to Argentina on Messi's late goal. The loss left the tournament's four Asian teams still looking for their first win. They have just three points in seven games for an average of 0.43 points per game, less than half the 0.89 points per game from Africa's five teams, the next lowest average.

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