A Good Day For Archie Thompson - And For Diego Forlan
Well, it wasn't quite the goal avalanche everyone expected but I'll bet Archie Thompson was a very happy man. I can hear you all asking: Who the feck is Archie Thompson? Perhaps he is a Bear from Bri'g'ton who backed Spain to win 10-0, maybe he is a kid in Kilmarnock who has just got his first job, or he might be a guy in Greenock who got lucky when chatting up a bird in a pub. The Archie Thompson I'm talking about is a professional footballer who is still plying his trade at 34 with Melbourne Victory. Back when Archie was 22, he played for Australia against American Samoa in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup, the Aussies edged it 31-0 and Thompson rattled in no fewer than thirteen goals to set the individual scoring record in international football. Everybody said Archie's record would stand for all time...until Tahiti qualified for the Confederations Cup and were drawn in the same group as Spain. And with Fernando Torres teaming up with David Villa, I'll bet there were quite a few punters who fancied both men to threaten Thompson's record. In the end Torres had to settle for just four goals, he also missed a penalty, Villa made do with a mere hat-trick, one from Juan Mata and a David Silva double took the total into double figures. Yes, it was a convincing win but the big smiles on the faces of the Tahitian players at the end told you who were the moral victors. In the years to come they'll be telling their grandkids of the day they lined up against the best team in the world in front of 71,806 fans at Rio's Maracana Stadium and 'only' lost 10-0! And Archie Thompson can stroll around Melbourne today with his chest puffed out, still a world record holder. With the formality of Spain's place in the semi-finals out of the way, all eyes were on Uruguay v Nigeria in Salvador. The South Americans were very lucky to get away with just a 2-1 defeat against Spain, while the Nigerians were far from impressive against Tahiti so both teams had work to do and the early signs were that they were up for it. Uruguay went ahead in the 19th minute when a Forlan cross eluded Cavani but fell perfectly for Diego Lugano who sclaffed it past the helpless keeper from six yards. Chelsea's John Obi Mikel levelled the scores after 37 minutes when he side-stepped Lugano to shoot home. The Uruguay forward partnership of Suarez, Cavani and Forlan was very disappointing. Both Suarez and Cavani are hoping to secure big money moves but their form at Liverpool and Napoli has to be their selling pitch because neither has impressed in Brazil. Maybe they are hoping a bit of liberty-taking against Tahiti at the weekend will catch the eye...and maybe give Archie Thompson something to worry about. It was Diego Forlan who settled the issue early in the second half. Suarez and Cavani linked up to feed Forlan and he marked his 100th appearance for his country by lashing the ball high into the net. There is no truth to the rumour that Effie Ambrose had nipped out for a pint to leave Forlan in acres of space. Cavani missed two great chances to put the game out of Nigeria's reach but Uruguay held out comfortably and, with Tahiti to play on Sunday, are now certs to figure in the semi-finals. But will the face Brazil or Italy? The Italians showed they are made of the right stuff by recovering from a dreadful start to beat Japan on Wednesday but they will surely be second favourites against Brazil so all the signs point to Italy v Spain and Brazil v Uruguay in the semis.
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