Confederations Cup: Fantastic four
Great goals, stunning saves and a remarkable upset: the semifinals of the FIFA Confederations Cup provided plenty of talking points for fans of the beautiful game.
Here are just some of the highlights:
Best player: Oguchi Onyewu. The American centre-back had a monster of a game against in the U.S.'s stunning 2-0 win over Spain on Wednesday. Onyewu, who plies his trade with Standard Lige in the Belgian first division, was a tower of strength for the Americans, anchoring a stingy defence that shut down Fernando Torres and David Villa. On more that one occasion, Onyewu threw himself into challenges in order to make a key stop and held the back line together with his poised and measured play. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore scored the goals, but Onyewu was the true star of the game of the U.S.
Best goal: South Africa had frustrated Brazil for 80 minutes on Thursday, swarming the Selecao every time they touched the ball. No matter how hard they tried, the Brazilians couldn't break through. The game appeared to be headed into extra time. That's when Brazil coach Dunga, looking to light a fire under his team, made the inspired move of replacing Andre Santos with Daniel Alves in the 82nd minute. It proved a wise move. Just six minutes after stepping onto the field, Alves lined up behind the ball for a free kick outside the penalty area and brilliantly curled it around the wall and just inside the far post past a diving Itumeleng Khune in the South African goal. 1-0 for Brazil with two minutes left in regulation. It was game over thanks to a gorgeous goal from the FC Barcelona right back.
Best scene: Even after watching their team suffer a gut-wrenching defeat, the South African fans who gathered in Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium stayed behind after the match was over to salute the Bafana Bafana. The South African team defied the odds by even getting this far, and the local fans showed their appreciation in a very classy move. Now, if they could only ditch those annoying horns….
Best surprise: Who thought the United States had any chance of defeating Spain, the best team in the world, and ending their 35-game unbeaten run - a streak that dates back to November 2006? But full credit must be given to the Americans who, unlike their Spanish counterparts, made the most of their scoring chances. This was no fluke - this was a well-deserved win by a U.S. team that was well organized, efficient in attack and flawless in defence.
Best team: See above.
Bigget disappointment: Everybody thought Spain would cruise through to the final of this tournament, but the European champions couldn't peg back the plucky Americans and crashed out of the competition after being blanked by the U.S. in the semifinals.
Best save: With the score tied 0-0 in the second half, Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar made a spectacular save to keep his country in the game - Teko Modise's shot deflected off a defender, crossing up Cesar who did well do dive back and get a hand on the ball.