FMM18 World Cup Day 27

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the Quarter Final matches for South Korea and Italy.

Semi Final – South Korea V Italy

18th June 2002, Daejeon World Cup Stadium, the Last 16 – South Korea knock out Italy in a controversial match. Now there’s a chance for Italy to gain revenge and secure a place in the World Cup Final. For South Korea, there’s the chance to appear in their first World Cup Final. Portugal await the victors. There’s no slow start to this Semi Final as Seung-Woo Lee puts South Korea into a sixth minute lead. Surely, albeit less controversially, history won’t repeat itself? The South Korean lead lasts until the 24th minute, when Andrea Belotti pulls Italy level. The scores stay level until the 38th minute, when a Roberto Gagliardini goal gives Italy the lead. Two minutes before the break, Kyung-Min Ryu is replaced by South Korea due to injury. The second half is less action-packed, with only one further goal being added; Alessio Romagnoli gives Italy a two-goal cushion in the 76th minute. There’s no way back for South Korea, especially after Heung-Min Son is dismissed in the 83rd minute.

Find out what happens on Day 28.

FMM18 World Cup Day 26

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the Quarter Final matches for Portugal and Belgium.

Semi Final – Portugal V Belgium

The opening Semi Final pits a team full of attacking players in Belgium against a team in Portugal with arguably Europe’s best ever player in Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a big game for both nations, with neither having ever reached the final before. Nerves at this stage of the tournament are to be expected and it’s a relatively slow start. Danilo Pereira limps off injured for Portugal in the 39th minute, forcing them to make a change. The change instantly results in a goal – Joao Mario breaks the deadlock in the 40th minute to put Portugal into the lead. As the game progresses, Belgium’s urgency becomes greater. With ten minutes to go, Ronaldo ensures that the game is wrapped up for Portugal and that they will get the chance to play for the biggest prize in football.

Find out what happens on Day 27.

South Africa 18-20 New Zealand

New Zealand recorded a narrow victory over South Africa to book their place in the World Cup Final and continue their quest to retain the Webb Ellis trophy. South Africa started well and were soon in the lead courtesy of a penalty. New Zealand hit back quickly with a try through Kaino that was converted by Carter. New Zealand had plenty of pressure in the first half, but were unable to score further as South Africa’s defence held firm. South Africa enjoyed success with box kicks, claiming many that they used. New Zealand’s discipline was poor and South Africa added three further penalties to give them a half time lead, the third seeing Kaino receive a yellow card for a blatant offside.

New Zealand opened the second half with more pressure despite having a player less and Carter scored a drop goal. They then followed this up with a try when Kaino returned, the try also seeing Habana sent to the sin bin for an offside in the build up. New Zealand kept their lead for the rest of the game, with further scores being added through penalties as the rain increased. New Zealand managed the clock well in the closing minutes to see the game out and record the win.

New Zealand looked less formidable than they did in the previous game against France, which perhaps shows the different intensity levels between the Northern and Southern hemisphere teams. South Africa kicked and chased well and it is surprising that they didn’t look to use the tactic more in the second half. New Zealand’s discipline improved in the second half, denying South Africa the chance to keep the scoreboard moving. New Zealand will need better discipline in the final to give themselves the best chance of winning as I think it will be difficult for them to win again if they concede too many penalties against either Australia or Argentina.