Andriy Shevchenko scored his first World Cup goal yesterday as the Ukraine put their nightmare performance against Spain behind them with a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia. Chelsea’s record signing headed in the third goal and made the fourth in an impressive performance considering he is still some way short of full fitness. Former Tottenham forward Serhiy Rebrov was also on the scoresheet with a superb strike from thirty plus yards, while Andriy Rusol and Maxim Kalinichenko also scored for the Ukraine. A win over Tunisia in Berlin on Friday will put Shevchenko’s men through to the last sixteen.
Spain overcame Tunisia 3-1 in Stuttgart with an impressive second half performance, but only after suffering an attack of nerves when they went behind to a goal from Joahar Mnari with less than ten minutes on the clock. The introduction of second half substitutes Raul, Joaquin and Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas finally changed the game with twenty minutes remaining. Raul equalised from close range and Torres turned the game around when he lifted the ball over Tunisian keeper Boumnijel as he rushed off his line to put Spain ahead. The Athletico Madrid striker, linked with a Premiership move this summer, added a late third from the penalty spot to make the game safe. Spain progress to the knockout stage, while Torres now heads the race for the Golden Boot with three goals in two games.
Switzerland improved their chances of making the second round after a 2-0 win over Togo in Dortmund. Alexander Frei and Tranquillo Barnetta scored for the Swiss putting the African World Cup debutants out of the competition, although Otto Pfister’s team could still have a say in the final outcome of Group G when they face France in Cologne on Friday.
As the final round of group games commences, England face Sweden this evening in Cologne in a game that will decide the winner of Group B. Frank Lampard, John Terry and Joe Cole look set to start while the much-maligned Owen Hargreaves is likely to come in for Steven Gerrard who is rested along with Peter Crouch. Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen will start up front for England, for whom a draw will be sufficient to claim pole position. England have not beaten Sweden since 1968. The winners of the group will play the runners-up of Group A, the identity of whom will be decided this afternoon when Germany meet Ecuador in Berlin. A draw for the impressive South American side will be sufficient for them to top the group, on account of their superior goal difference. Michael Ballack is one booking away from a suspension which would see him miss Germany’s second round game, but is likely to appear for the hosts.