Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mexico must win to secure a second round ticket. With a loss, the shadow game of Iran-Angola will make the decision for them. Portugal is, with two wins, already qualified, but if they loose today, they will finish second and face the winners of Group C, Argentina or Holland.
The coach of Portugal does not start any of the five players who are booked for a yellow card, he does not need them.
"I don not care if we get thirty goals behind, I am not playing those five man," says the commentator, quoting the Portuguese coach.
Two minutes in the game, Mexico wants to start on the thirty-goal advantage the Portuguese coach does not care about. A Mexican striker dribbles past two men in the penalty box. He fires. The Portuguese keeper, in a reflex, anchors his feet on the grass. He shields the ball with his body as if it was an oncoming train.
Portugal attacks for the first time in the fifth minute. A Portuguese striker dribbles the ball into the Mexican penalty box. He looks at the target, but sees no shot. On his right, he spots a teammate running through the middle. He passes the ball through a weed field of defenders. His teammate only needs to touch the ball once, to send it to the right corner of the goal. The keeper of Mexico slaps the ball with his right hand while coming down from his dive. If he had timed his dive a minute later, he might have caught it.


"This is great stuff here," says the commentator. "Mexico, coupled with an Angolan win, could be send packing."
Portugal takes command.
Figo takes a corner in the nineteenth minute. A Mexican defender blocks the shot, five meters from the corner flag. The ball bounces back to Figo, who outplays the defender instead, before he crosses the ball high in front of the goal. The keeper plucks the ball out of the air, but the Portuguese made the Mexicans nervous.
Nervous enough for a Mexican player to stretch his hand to the ball, moments later, in a reflex.
"A bizarre move," describes the commentator it. Unintended reflex or not, the handball was made inside the Mexican penalty box, thus penalty.
The Mexican keeper plays a little theatre, jumping from left to right on the goal line. He leaves a little more space on his right then his left to entice the Portuguese striker to choose the left corner.
The Portuguese striker steps, halts, and steps again. He shoots to the left corner, answering the keeper’s request. The keeper dives to the corner, still too early. The ball shoots over his stretched hands, while gravity brings him down from the dive.


The large Mexican crowd is now urging their team to take action.
Mexico fights and earns a corner. A high ball and a classic header to the far post, deliver relief to the Mexican crowd.


"This is a heated game, we were not expecting this kind of action," says the commentator.
I was, this is the world cup, don not forget.
"I think it be a lot easier on Mexico if they score a goal," says the commentator in the second half.
The Mexicans in the stands roar on their team, but Portugal defends deep, making dangerous counters.
Portugal returns the favor of the handball in the fifty-first minute. Unintentionally, still it is a penalty.
"Oh no, what a tremendous miss," says the commentator while the ball bullets over the crossbar. The television show the Mexican people jump, then freeze midair.
More stress comes Mexican way when Luis Perez receives a yellow card, his second, thus red. He leaves the field.
Drama arrives when the News of Angola leading in the shadow game trickles into the stadium.
Mexico needs to save the match with a goal, playing with one man down.
However, the shadow match twists the plot a last time when Iran equalizes with Angola.
Mexico sighs deep, their dream is extended by Iran.
Shaken, both teams play to the whistle. Both teams go to round two.