OK, so fine: This is another one of those games that doesn't mean anything. The Poland-Costa Rica game yesterday was supposedly "meaningless" too, and that didn't stop it from being perhaps the most entertaining game of the day.
Did we hook you there? It's Serbia and Montenegro vs. the Ivory Coast, or whatever the heck we're supposed to call them now. This is officially the Unwieldy Country Name battle of the World Cup so far.
Your live-blogger is Thomas Moyles, who's a heckuva gentleman. We hope you like him, because he's doing two other games this week. Drop us a line with your thoughts on his work, play along in the comments and do try to enjoy this one. Hey, pay attention!
FULLTIME: Ivory Coast come away with a deserved victory, having been the team who took the initiative right from the start of the match. After Serbia scored two after mistakes by the Ivorian defense, the Ivory Coast stepped it up and fought their way back into the match, aided by two penalties given by Rodriguez, who also sent two players off and was generally was the very figure of the strutting, preening, over-important ref who does his best to upstage the actual game.
Still, even Count Rodriguez can't take away the 3 points and the elation of their first World Cup win from the Ivory Coast, 3-2 winners and one of the most entertaining teams in the competition. As noted earlier, it's a real pity that they were thrown into such a strong group as they would have been a sure bet to go into the knockout stages had they been placed alongside teams of a lesser caliber. They gave the Dutch and the Argies all they could handle it's great to see them go out on a high.
For Serba (& Montenegro), this was a horrible way to end a horrible tournament. After boasting one of the best defences in Europe during qualifying, they were just ripped apart in this World Cup, giving up 10 goals in 3 matches and generally looking old, slow and without imagination. A terrible performance in their last match as Serba & Montenegro and their fans will surely hope that they'll do better as just Serbia.
This was The Electric Zarko of The Middle Foam Finger, hope you enjoyed the live-blogging and I'll be back tomorrow for Brazil vs. Japan.
93' Dindane with a fine bit of skill, snapping a behind-the-foot pass to B. Kone out on the wing, who then gets shaken up from the tackle.
90' 3 minutes of stoppage time as the Ivorians look to play out the match, Milosevic takes a knock at midfield, looks like the Ivory Coast captian, Domoraud, has been booked and he is sent off for his second yellow card. The game will end with the teams playing 10 on 10.
88' The crowd gives the Ivory Coast the "Ole!" treatment with every touch, as they are toying with the Serbians now.
86' GOOOOOAAAAAL! Kalou takes the kick, puts it right where Dindane put his and the Ivory Coast are on course to win their first World Cup match. The Ivorian keeper couldn't even watch, he was facing toward the crowd on his knees and he reacts with joy when the penalty is converted, cancelling out his mistake that led to the second goal.
84' Another handball in the area! Another penalty! A long shot catches a Serbian on the arm and Rodriguez immediately whistles for the spot-kick. A little harsh on the defender, as the shot came in very sharp.
83' A. Kone is fouled and the Ivory Coast has a free kick from 30 meters out, Boka takes and it's blocked out for a corner by an on-rushing Serbian defender. It leads to a new corner, which is then cleared out.
81' Healy makes the 5th mention of the US game tomorrow. Yes, we get it. It's a big game. Tomorrow. Who was it against? Who has to win again? Oh, good thing you reminded me.
79' Now Ivory Coast with a free header of their own, Y. Toure wide-open on the corner kick and he snaps his header wide of the post. The game is definitely starting to get sloppy with both teams looking very tired and the marking is becoming pretty loose.
77' Free header for Stankovic from 7 yards out from a Serbian free kick; however, he fails to put it on target and Ivory Coast dodges a bullet with just over 10 minutes remaining in normal time.
74' Zokora with a great run down the left side of the ball, plays a ball across the face of the goal and Serbia is lucky not to give up the winner.
73' Keita comes off for Ivory Coast and Bonaventure Kalou comes on for him. B. Kalou can play as a striker or an attacking midfield and has played both for his club team, Paris Saint Germain.
70' IC gets a corner as they have 20 minutes now to get the winner and walk out of the World Cup with a bit of pride. Corner is cleared to midfield.
67' BOUF! Eat my goal! Dindane puts in the equalizer for the Ivory Coast! The score is 2-2. The S&M defense loses Dindane on the second post and he nods in a cross just inside the upright.
66' Milosevic in for Zigic. One lumbering huge guy goes off for uh, another lumbering huge guy. Should be Milosevic's last game for S&M as he's announced his retirement after they were eliminated.
65' S&M is defending for their lives here and the tension is rising as the Ivory Coast relentlessly come forward, hoping to get something out of this game other than another 2-1 defeat.
64' Dindane flashes a header just wide of the far post from just outside the 6-yard box. A great chance there for the Ivory Coast with the keeper again caught completely off-guard by the quick cross from the left side.
62' Oh! 35-meter shot from Kouassi crashes off the crossbar with the keeper bolted to the ground. A thunderbolt of a drive, Ivory Coast unlucky not to equalize.
61' Ball over the top finds A. Kone, whose shot is blocked, he gets back the rebound and sends a bouncing shot just wide of the far post from just inside the area. The Ivory Coast continues to pound the ball down the field, earning a corner, which comes to nothing.
60' B. Kone in for Akale. Dindane makes another good run on the byline; his weak effort goes straight to the keeper though.
59' I think Smythe just referred to the Serbian keeper "earning his corn". Oookay. Of course, since it's Tommy, it sounds like "carn".
57' Dindane brought down just outside the area, offset a bit to the right. Gavrancic is given a yellow card and this is an excellent scoring chance. Shot goes off the wall, Y. Toure gets to the rebound and his shot is stoned by the Serbian keeper, using his feet well again. Rodriguez ignores what appears to be two hard fouls by the Serbians and the crowd is letting him have it.
53' Healy refers to Montenegro as the "beach enclave" of the former Yugoslavia. I guess it makes sense. People on the beach tend to be pretty laid-back and I could see them not getting along well with their overly intense Serbian neighbors. (Also, one of my blogmates used to live in the area and he says that the Serbs are jerks.)
52' Serbia has done well to take the ball out of the air, with Rodriguez seemingly unwilling to make foul calls for either team. B. Kone appears to be warming up for the Ivory Coast, he being the player who scored against the Netherlands with a sensational long shot into the side-netting.
47' As expected, the Ivorians start off the half by pinning the Serbs deep in their own half. S&M are doing well at keeping them at arm's length, blunting their attacks before they can provide the killer ball.
HALFTIME: The half ends as it began, with Ivory Coast threatening the Serbian goal. The Ivorians have had a lion's share of the ball and are undeservedly 2-1 down at the break. However, they also have the advantage of the extra man after Nadj is sent off for his second yellow card in first-half injury time.
We've had one penalty called (and re-taken), two penalties go un-called and generally, this game has been pretty entertaining to date. The Serbs scored twice after taking advantage of the Ivory Coast's inability to clear long balls out of the box, then the Ivorian pressure finally paid off in the form of a penalty for handball. After having to retake it, Aruna Dindane slotted it home and gives the Ivorians a real shot to come away with points from their first World Cup.
46' Back and forth play as both teams are rushing from box to box, Nadj, the substitute, comes in hard on Keita and it's his second yellow card, which means red. Serbia will play the rest of this game down a man. A deserved yellow card as he came in late and from behind.
43' Yellow card for Dindane for diving and it looks like a horrible call. He'd rounded the keeper and had a player on his back and the keeper going at his feet. Clear penalty and Rodriguez should be sent home after this game. His reputation for showboating is certainly coming to the fore, with both teams having clear complaints about his performance so far.
41' Djordjevic fouled, called outside the area when it was clearly inside. Smythe rightly takes Rodriguez to task for wussing out and refusing to call the penalty. 4 Serbs behind the ball. Gavrancic to take, it's partially blocked by the wall and cleared out by the defense.
40' Predrag Djordjevic with a well struck free-kick from around 25 meters out, a great save from the Ivorian keeper, resulting corner comes to nothing, Ivory Coast strike on the break and Dindane has another great chance saved by the Serbian keeper, with the rebound killing some poor old lady in row 60.
38'Yellow card for a Serb, Duljaj I think, the commentators are no help. Resulting free-kick goes into the wall.
37' GOAL for the Ivory Coast! Dindane puts the ball in the same spot; however, the keeper goes the same way that he did last time and Ivory Coast gets a deserved goal. Healy is now making Smythe explain enroachment and he uses the word "peniggity". I think.
36' Dindane converts; unfortunately, Rodriguez is indicating that there was enroachment in the area and is forcing Dindane to retake the penalty.
35' PENALTY! Dudic appeared to handball in the box, ref calls the penalty and he gives the yellow card. Definitely a handball as Dudic had both hands above his head and punched the ball away from Kone.
34' More pressure from Ivory Coast, just lacking the final ball.
33'Yellow card for Keita after a late tackle from behind on Predrag Djordjevic, Stankovic to take the free-kick, wide of the goal by a couple meters.
31' Kone fouled close to the S&M area, Zokora over the ball. Quick ball to Y. Toure, whose shot is blocked, Ivory Coast get the ball back again; however, the defender who blocked the shot is down and injured, Ivory Coast does the sporting thing and plays the ball out of play.
28' Corner for Ivory Coast as Dindane goes on another mazy run by Dindane. Cleared by S&M but not too far away, Ivory Coast continue to pressure and the eventual long shot is smothered by the Serbian keeper.
27' Back to the earlier trend of Ivory Coast holding the ball around the S&M area; yet coming away with nothing.
24' It's raining very heavily right now and Ivory Coast are at sea. Both goals are a direct result of the defenders reacting poorly to Route One buildup by Serbia and after looking so good for long stretches of the game, it must be very demoralizing to go down 2-0.
22' S&M are on the attack again, Stankovic with a short cross to Zigic, who sends his header wide of the second post. Ivory Coast defense is like a wet paper bag right now and the gigantic Serbs are smashing right through it.
20' GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL again for Serbia. Ivory Coast's defence is completely at sea without Kolo Toure, another long ball into the box deflects off a defender and straight to Sasa Ilic, who freezes the keeper and the defender before bulging the ol' onion bag.
19' Ivory Coast with a great breakthrough, Dindane hits a sitter from 6 yards out off the goalie's foot, then Akale sends the rebound wide of the goal
17' Yellow card for Nadj. Just needed to hear his name again, I guess. Look ma, I'm on TV!
16' Krstajic down for Serbia after a collision with Eboue, looks like he won't be able to continue. Replaced with Nadj. Apparently there's still some vowel shortages in the former Yugoslavia.
11' Horrible defending by both the central defenders and the Ivorian goalie on that goal. Kone picks up the ball at the top of the Serbian box, whiffs and the ball is cleared.
10' GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL for Serbia. Zigic scores a "ridiculously easy" goal, taking a long cross from Stankovic, knocking it down, rounded the keeper and slots it into the empty net.
10' Ivory Coast looking like the better side so far, having generated a couple of good chances and generally just controlling the flow of the game. I've been very impressed with Y. Toure and Zokora in the middle of the park.
7' Serbia finally with some posession, then they turn the ball over, Ivory Coast on the break, Kone has his shot blocked at the top of the box.
6' Boka takes a long-range shot with his left-foot, about 30 meters out, well wide, never troubling the keeper. Tommy Smythe wants us to know that the game will end in a victory for one team, unless there's a draw. Thanks, Tommy.
5' Corner headed out, Ivory Coast (again) takes possession and is knocking it around the pitch. Serbia appears content to try and hit on the counter attack.
4' Great run by Dindane, run comes to nothing as he cuts it back behind Kone in the box. Ivory Coast regains possession, plays a cross to the second post, put out for a corner.
3' Free kick comes to a waste, Ivory Coast continues to hold the ball. Today's ref is known as "The Mexican Dracula" and had a horrible first game during England vs. Paraguay.
2' Ivory Coast holding possession fairly well, Serba fouls about 35 yards away from goal.
0' Heavy rain here in Munich with Ivory Coast in Orange and Serbia in Blue.
PREVIEW: Unfortunately, this game is meaningless in terms of the competiton as both teams have lost their first two games and as such are both going home after this game, meaning the only thing to play for is pride.
It's also being played at the same time as one of the classic match-ups in World Cup history, Netherlands vs. Argentina. Best-case scenario, people will be watching that match and reading this here live-blogging, right? Otherwise, it's just me and whichever Ivorians and Serbs can't get out of the office/are too depressed to actually watch the game.
And to make it better, the game isn't being broadcast on Univision, meaning that it's ESPN time. I'll try and keep my complaining to a mininum; however, I promise nothing. Announcers for today: Adrian Healy and Tommy Smythe (purple horseshoes!).
I'll also throw in a plug for the blog I write for, The Middle Foam Finger. Check it out as we bring the Haterade.
SERBIA & MONTENEGRO (soon to be just Serbia): After famously only allowing 1 goal in 10 qualifying matches, the S&M squad has given up 7 goals in 2 games, including 6 in their last game against Argentina. Without their defense, they've had to fall back on their second-best talent, ethnic cleansing. This hasn't worked out too well for them either, as they accumulated a bunch of cards and they'll have 4 players unavailable for this match.
Lineup: (according to FIFA)
1. JEVRIC Dragoslav
2. ERGIC Ivan
4. DULJAJ Igor
6. GAVRANCIC Goran
(C)10. STANKOVIC Dejan
11. DJORDJEVIC Predrag
14. DJORDJEVIC Nenad
15. DUDIC Milan
19. ZIGIC Nikola
20. KRSTAJIC Mladen
22. ILIC Sasa
IVORY COAST: The Ivory Coast is the strongest African team in the competition, with a great balance of players at every position and a wealth of options in the attacking third. It's a pity that they were drawn into the Group of Death and after two very close losses, should be looking for the win before they go home. They will be missing their best player, captain Didier Drogba, who picked up two yellow cards in the first two matches. The danger men will be Arouna Kone, Aruna Dindane and Kader Keita.
Lineup: (again, according to FIFA)
23. BARRY Boubacar
2. AKALE Kanga
3. BOKA Arthur
5. ZOKORA Didier
6. KOUASSI Blaise
9. KONE Arouna
15. DINDANE Aruna
17. DOMORAUD Cyrille (C)
18. KEITA Kader
19. TOURE Yaya
21. EBOUE Emmanuel