Live Blog: Ukraine Vs. Tunisia

This one's a potentially pivotal game; Ukraine is into the second round with a win, but Tunisia could end up in the same boat. A win could push them in as well, assuming Saudi Arabia doesn't shock Spain. But Ukraine has to be happy to be here; remember, they were hammered 4-0 in the first round.

So, it's Ukraine vs. Tunisia. It might not necessarily be the most marquee matchup, but that doesn't mean it's not important. Because it is. It's important. And so are you. Don't ever let anyone make you think otherwise.

Your live-blogger is Craig Barker, who has been around these here live-blogging parts before. He was pretty good then and he'll be pretty good now; follow along in the comments, and enjoy a peppy Friday morning.

End Game:
And that's the final whistle. Ukraine 1, Tunisia 0. The Ukraine advances to the round of 16, the second debutante in this World Cup to make it out of group play, along with the Black Stars of Ghana.

And that's all she wrote. I want to thank all of you who hung out with me as I did these Liveblogs and left your comments. It was a great deal of fun and I want to sincerely thank Will for the oppurtunity. He have me a chance, and I just hope I didn't screw things up too much. Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the tournament. —CDB

Stoppage Time: And now a sub for Tunisia, Nafti out and Ghodhbane in. Three extra minutes. One of my friends is a referee and he likes to say that if no one notices him, he's done his job well. The only guy I have noticed today...oh, so close on a header for Tunisia. That was Planes, Trains and Automobiles close. Now, with just one minute of stoppage time left, everyone decides to pick up the pace. Hmm, Tunisia's attack blunted, and now the Ukrainians with numbers and speed on the counter and a wonderful shot, but well defended by Tunisia. And a corner for Ukraine, played out harmlessly.

90th minute: Sure, another booking...this one to Jaidi. Free kick for Ukraine away from the penalty area, and they try to play a give and go...and nothing.

89th minute: Oh NOW Ukraine decides to try something. Again, second verse same as the first. Oh, wow, the sub has clearly come in with some energy, and a nice save by Boumnijel.

88th minute: Last sub for Ukraine as they get Shevchenko out of the game and Milevskiy comes in. This is a move clearly for protection of your bread and butter.

87th minute: Yeah, you know, I don't know the 40-year old goalkeeper will be back in 2010 Shep. Call it a hunch.

86th minute: A nice shot by Trabelsi that is wide. Hey, it's a shot, it's something.

85th minute: How bad is this? Glenn and Shep are talking about what's coming up on Cold Pizza, beyond just the promo spot. It's that bad.

84th minute: Wow, the Ukrainians almost had something there, like getting six digits of a phone number at a bar.

83rd minute: Again, Sepp Blatter looks, well not pissed, but bored out of his mind. And he's the head of FIFA for crying out loud.

82nd minute: In Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby wrote that one of the criteria for a game being truly memorable is some sort of distasteful incident. While I will do my best to forget this game when it's over, the dubious Tunisian red card, the no call handball and the PK would be a set of distasteful incidents and I would feel horrible if Tunisia is knocked out of the World Cup on that front.

81st minute: The Ukrainians looked like the had something, but the Tunisians quickly closed. The Ukrainians quickly reset, the Tunisians are, again right there.

80th minute: Trabelsi with a header that is easily handled.

79th minute: Shevchenko dribbles in deep, but is met with stern Tunisian defense. And now we have a pair of subs for Tunisia: Bouazizi out, and Ben Sadda in, and Chedli out and the naturalized Brazilian Santos in.

78th minute: The free kick was a good idea whose time hadn't come, like the Tucker.

77th minute: Hmm, Glenn and Shep have jumped back on the Ukrainian bandwagon. It's an odd switch, but you know. Free kick for Ukraine.

76th minute: You know, I love that all soccer announcing uses the phrase "the unfortunate incident" to describe a red card. It's right up there with "the recent unpleasantness."

75th minute: OK, we've got another Ukrainian substitution: Kalinichenko Out and Gusin in.

74th minute: Credit to Tunisia, despite all of the breaks going against them, they look like they are going to go down fighting. Maybe the Tunisians needs to march in straight lines to hide their numbers.

73rd minute: The Berlin crowd is still unhappy with this match, and you can't blame them. Maybe we could airlift them a quality sporting event, like an MLL game or the Booz Allen second round.

72nd minute: OK, here's the thing. I'm not saying diving is right, but if your team is tied 0-0 and needs a spark and you have a feel for the ref, you embellish a little, take the dive in the box and see what happens. The fact that the ref calls it works for you, even if you don't deserve it. As Herm Edwards likes to remind us "You play...to win...the game."

71st minute: Hmm, Glenn and Shep have clearly turned on the Ukrainians. They basically said it was an undeserved PK, on top of the uncalled hand ball for Tunisia.

70th minute: And yep, they have called a penalty kick. Shevchenko was fouled on that last play, and here's the 12th PK of the tournament and as you might expect Shevchenko goes right, the goalie goes left, he finishes and Ukraine takes a 1-0 lead.

69th minute: Shep's still harping on the no call handball, and while I agree, it's a blown call, it's also over. Oh, and bad defense by the Tunisians leads to a chance for Shevchenko.

68th minute: It has been pointed out that no team a man down has scored during the 2006 World Cup. Our friends from Paraguay were the last to do so, scoring a pair in the 2002 WC.

67th minute: You know, I'm trying not to play favorites, but at least Tunisia looks like they care.

66th minute: And the Tunisian corner kick leads to...another Tunisian corner. And the second corner leads to a masssive collision in the box, and a goal kick.

65th minute: OK, something sort of exciting here. A booking of Rusol leads to a dangerous free kick just outside the penalty area for Tunisia. And the kick, goes into the wall and deflects out. And the replay shows that, yeah, that was a hand ball in the box. For sure. But it's a corner kick for Tunisia.

64th minute: Still nothing yet.

63rd minute: I haven't heard this much whistling from Germans outside of a Scorpions song. There's a shot into the penalty area for Ukraine, but nope.

62nd minute: If I didn't have a little bit of integrity, I would just start making up a much more exciting game for you guys. You deserve better.

61st minute: Wow, I think Shep is channeling Donald Ramp, the chess coach played by Jim Belushi in a 1980s SNL sketch. "Oh sure, just give him the yellow card!" In this case it went to Tymoschuk, who apparently has side effects.

60th minute: The late John Spencer was born to an Irish father and Ukrainian mother in New Jersey. Best known for playing attorney Tommy Mullaney on L.A. Law and Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on The West Wing, Spencer's character had one of his finest moments in show history with the story about the guy in the hole (scroll down a little).

59th minute: This space for rent.

58th minute: I knew I should have done more research...Seriously, I wish I could describe the vast nothingness that is happening here. I love this game, and this is very painful.

57th minute: Oooh, bad no call by the ref. Tunisia got a little hosed there. A clear foul that was not called.

56th minute: You know, Glenn's right, HD is beautiful. This game, not so much.

55th minute: As you may have noticed, I haven't been able to drop many "Famous Tunisians" into the blog, but it's not for lack of effort. But, what Tunisia lacks in quantity, they make up for in quality: Hannibal. The "father of military strategy", Hannibal is best known today for being the nicknamesake of a leader of a team of soldiers of fortune that can be found in the Los Angeles underground as well as having a parade held in his honor in Terror Lake.

Or, if you want to be serious about it: Hannibal's legacy extends to the field of military history, as he is universally ranked as one of the greatest military strategists and tacticians of the Western world, alongside Epaminondas, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Robert E. Lee, Scipio, Gustavus Adolphus, Erwin Rommel, Turenne, The Duke of Marlborough, and Frederick the Great. You beat up the Romans for a couple of years, you make the history books. You use elephants to cross the Alps, everyone remembers you (even if only one elephant survived the journey.)

OK, Ukraine is going to their bench, it's Rebrov, REBROV, out and Vorobey in.

54th minute: Every time they say Tymoschuk, I swear I hear Temocil. I miss Arrested Development.

53rd minute: Tymoschuk...OK, wait, Shep just suggested that Boumnijel may have had a few too many cheeseburgers. Isn't that against the rules of Halal? I mean, I know it's not kosher.

52nd minute: Boumnijel handles a sort of nothing shot with ease.

51st minute: Shot just rolls into Shovkovskiy, nothing big. Tunisia will try and reset. The operative word being try, as they fail and now the Ukrainians look to set up.

50th minute: Fun fact on Tunisia: Tunisia was the site of the first European Tour event outside of Europe, the Tunisian Open.

Shep and Glenn mention that the crowd is disaffected. I can't blame them. I want to start performing percussive maintainence on my television: "Stupid TV, be more funny!"

49th minute: Now a free kick for Tunisia in the Ukrainian zone, and it's headed out harmlessly for a goal kick...no, wait, my bad, it's a Tunisian foul.

48th minute: Fun fact on the joke everyone has made during the last three weeks: In the game of Risk, Tunisia is lumped into "North Africa"

I give credit to the robot that writes the Yahoo! Matchcast summary, he's way better at making nothing sounds like it's something.

47th minute: Ooop, and now Shelayev will earn a booking for the Ukraine. A card to match his jersey.

46th minute: Oh, a half that's very important to the Ukraine? Really. In a World Cup? No!

Ukraine kicks off and let's see if they can do something here, but I'm not hopeful. Hey, congrats to Oregon State for advancing to the CWS finals. That's what you get for stealing Homer Simpson's pants.

Halftime: You know, during World Cup 2002, ESPN's promos used Course of Nature's "Caught in the Sun" to promote the USMNT games. And it wasn't a bad song. I love U2, but it's just seemed very forced. At least when they NFL used the lads to promote the playoffs three seasons ago, they chose the semi-obscure "Until the End of the World".

Hmm, did you know you can vote for the T-Mobile Man of the Match starting in the 75th minute? Why didn't they start doing this sooner.

Better know a World Cup host venue: Berlin's Olympiastadion: Designed by Werner March, the Stadium played host to the 1936 Summer Olympics, best known for American track and field athlete Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in a single games, helping thumb a nose at Hitler's eugenic theories of Nazi superiority. Surviving World War II with little damage beyond machine gun strikes, the complex served as the home of the British military occupation force in Berlin until 1994. Renovated for this World Cup, it is now the second largest football facility in Germany behind Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.
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Stoppage Time: Oh, thankfully, just one minute of stoppage time. Long shot punched up and over Boumnijel's head. And now, oh WOW, we have a red card! Oh and it's Jaziri being sent off his second yellow of the match. Sure, let's just take away some offensive punch from this SCORELESS match. Tunisia will play the entire second half a man down.

45th minute: Corner kick for Ukraine, but it goes way outside and nothing doing.

44th minute: FIFA head Sepp Blatter has been studying at the school of David Stern facial displeasure. Hmm, I wonder who the football world's Mark Cuban is. Actually, wait, no I don't, I know that one.

43rd minute: Fun fact on Tunisia: Our resident Middle East expert informs us that it has had a total of 2 presidents since 1957. Habib Bourguiba (1957-1987) and current president Zine El Abidin Ben Ali (1987- ). I have nothing to add to this, other than it reminds my L.A. bureau of the old Dennis Miller line about the ever-increasing size of 7-11 beverages: "I'm feeling a little bit parched, Habib, do you have anything in a depth-charge sized drink?"

Oh and Bouazizi gets booked for Tunisia.

42nd minute: Sartre maintained that "Hell is other people." I'm pretty sure this is close to that. Like a charming community garden in suburban Hell.

41st minute: ...

40th minute: Oh and for Title IX purposes, more famous Ukrainians, or at least people of Ukrainian descent:
* American figure skater Sasha Cohen
* Actress Milla Jovovich.
* Indie rock's Neko Case (as a recommendation, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is quite the album.)
* Actress Mila Kunis (shut up Meg.)

Free kick forward for the Ukrainians and Jaidi comes back on.

39th minute: Now a counter by the Tunisians, let's see what they can do...nothing. OK, at least you're consistent.

38th minute: ZZZZZ...oh, sorry, uh, yeah, now a back spasm for Tunisian defender Jaidi marks the most interesting thing to happen.

37th minute: More famous Ukrainians, or at least people of Ukrainian descent:
* Igor Sikorsky, who invented the helicopter, which is always a good fact to remember.
* Sergey Korolev, who developed Sputnik.
* Carl Sagan, America's foremost pop astronomer.
* Flip Saunders, the most successful regular season coach in Detroit Pistons' history.
* Mike Royko, the legendary Chicago newspaperman.
* George and Ira Gershwin, the famous 20th century musical duo.
* Herb Alpert, of Tijuana Brass fame.
* Randy Bachman, the musical genius behind both the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
You know, I didn't think I'd be able to work in another BTO reference, but as usual, I'm just takin' care of business.

Goal kick for Ukraine, who are now being told to just get to the locker room with the tie, and really, I can't blame them.

36th minute: Oh look, Spain's scored. That's the most exciting thing that's happened in THIS game. More back and forth in the midfield, and like a photographic dark room with poorly covered windows, nothing's developing.

35th minute: Glenn, seriously, you can concede the first goal to Tunisia, we have proof. Free kick for Ukraine, but it's long and over the top. Goal kick for Tunisia.

34th minute: Chedli gets a counter attack off the left foot and the shot goes wide. You get the feeling if it keeps up like this, it's going to be a night in Tunisia, a long night in Tunisia.

33rd minute: Long ball into the Ukrainian 18, and Shovkovskiy flies to the ball and snags it. Man's got some mad ups in there.

32nd minute: I knew it...32 flavors. Oooh and now Shevchenko with a chance that leads to a corner for Ukraine, which they proceed to waste. Bruce Arena is so proud of them for that.

31st minute: Shovkovskiy easily handles the service and then runs up and throws the ball out to his players. He sort of looks like Steve Nash, so it's a little weird to see him look like he's running the point there. And an offside for Tunisia.

30th minute: Fun fact on Tunisia: Our resident Middle East expert reminds me that Tunis was home of the Arab League between 1979 to 1989 (while Egypt was on time out for working with Israel).

You know, the blue track at the stadium is a lovely color and WOW, we have a corner for Tunisia. Something tangible I can describe!

29th minute: Tunisia is resetting. Can we put a cheat code on this game or something? Ukraine's attack is ill concieved and easily handled.

28th minute: Both teams seem to have picked up on the quick whistle and are now just looking for the calls. I think it's really bad, Mnari of Tunisia just got called for a foul on Dwyane Wade.

27th minute: Oh, in case you're wondering, still tied Spain/Saudis at zeroes. Just back and forth in the midfield.

26th minute: Hmm, possession has been split evenly at 50-50. Fouls are almost even. And the score is still 0-0.

25th minute: Hockey geek interlude: Due to his Ukrainian heritage, legendary NHL netminder Terry Sawchuk was known as "Uke". Similarly, tragic Maple Leaf player Bill Barilko is thought to also be of Ukrainian-Canadian descent. So, get your Fifty Mission Caps on.

Glenn says that you want to get that Tunisia is definitely a team you want to get the first goal against. Because the 0-1-1 record in this World Cup when getting the first goal means, what exactly?

24th minute: OK, I'll give credit to Ukraine, they have picked it back up again and are amping the pressure back up on Tunisia.

23rd minute: Now alien paratroopers have stormed the stadium and are demanding to meet with our leader, Regis. OK, not really, I just wanted to see if you were still with me. In reality, a decent cross into Shevchenko is easily handled.

22nd minute: Tunisia's counterattacking as I damn the mute graphic on my television covering the seconds on the scorebox (this is why I haven't been more specific. Sorry gang.)

21st minute: OK, here's a free kick for Tunisia, and it's headed out of the box and now here's a counter for the Ukraine and a shot right there, nice effort, and that seems to have brought Ukraine back to life.

20th minute: Wait, NOW the game has dropped a couple of notches? We already had nothing and now we're below that. What's less than square one? Negative bupkis?

19th minute: The shot goes over the wall and is right on. And now the Ukrainian counter attack by Gusev is met by a hard foul, leading to a Ukrainian free kick, and that is easily handled by the 40-year old keeper, Boumnijel.

18th minute: Ooh, a yellow card to Sviderskiy of Ukraine and a free kick Tunisia.

17th minute: This is my third game, I should know how to describe interludes of Seinfeldian nothingness yet, but I guess its the Risk you take.

16th minute: Now we see Ukraine with another free kick deep in the Tunisian zone, but it's headed out by Tunisia for a Ukraine throw-in.

15th minute: History geek interlude: As my Middle East expert reminds me, the Ukraine and Tunisia were both sites of major resistance to Nazi advances during World War II. Tunisia is the site of Kaserine Pass, one of the worst military defeats in American history. It's also the one that General Omar Bradley was surveying the aftermath of during the first scenes of Patton (not the one with the speech, the scene after that.) "Rommel, you magnificent bus stop, I read your book!"

The Ukraine is the site of Kiev, which was designated a "Hero City" of the Soviet Union in 1961 for its efforts in turning back the advances of the Wermarcht. "According to the statute, the hero city is issued the Order of Lenin, the Gold Star medal, and the certificate of the heroic deed (gramota) from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Also, the corresponding obelisk is installed in the city."

OK, now Ukraine is in deep, but Tunisia is defending well.

14th minute: A foul gives Tunisia a free kick just over the midfield stripe. Nothing.

13th minute: Offside for the Ukraine, which is nice, just because it's different. Long ball by Tunisia, saved well near the corner by Trabelsi, but nothing doing.

12th minute: In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "I've seen plays, honest to God PLAYS, that were more exciting than this."

11th minute: You know, in the first 11 minutes, Shep and Glenn have asked questions that have resulted in them not taking anything away from Spain, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and Germany. Wow, they've already run through 1/8 of the field.

10th minute: Shep thinks that Ukraine needs to dictate a faster pace in this game. I think they need to dictate ANY pace in this game.

9th minute: ...Back and forth

8th minute: In my research, I discovered that legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko is of Ukrainian descent, which is cool, because it means I can work a reference to The Question into this somewhere.

There's really no flow in this game yet, and all ready the German crowd is whistling at the teams on the pitch. It's a warm afternoon in Berlin and now here's a wide run by Jaziri for Tunisia and he goes now and now he'll be booked for taking a dive.

7th minute: A nice long ball by Tunisia, but Ukraine is more than up to the task.

6th minute: This is the first ever meeting between these two sides, which, you'd expect, since Ukraine has only been footballing internationally since 1992. Still just a lot of midfield play.

5th minute: A lot of action in the middle, and now Tunisia plays a long ball in, but the Ukrainians make short work of it.

4th minute: A free kick for Ukraine, let's see what they can do with it. And the answer would be a Donovan-like nothing. Wasted set piece.

3rd minute: A little danger for Tunisia, but now they've pulled it back together and eventually get it clear.

2nd minute: Ukrainian attack does nothing and the Tunisians send it in deep and harmless. Definitely in the feeling out stages, as you might expect. The teams both look a little nervous. Now here'a break for Ukraine, but quick defensive recovery by Tunisia.

1st minute: The Tunisians push deep into the corner, but the Ukrainians get it out. A midfield back and forth sees the Ukrainians get it out and set up.

Pre-Game: Yeah, I knew I couldn't be lucky forever, it's Glenn Davis and Shep Messing on the call. The Ukrainians are in the all yellow, the Tunisians in all red. It's food, folks, and fun.
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Another day, I call and never speak, and you would say, nothing's changed at all.

Hello again ladies and gentlemen, my name's Craig Barker, and I'll be taking you through the next ninety minutes of action from Olympiastadion in Berlin, final match of Group H...Tunisia facing off against Ukraine. Somehow, I've ended up with a game of actual import to liveblog and the stakes are very simple. Tunisia, win or go home. Ukraine, win (or draw) or go home.

Oh, and let's just get this out of the way now:
The opinions and information provided in this entry are for entertainment purposes only and are the sole responsibility of the author. These opinions do not represent the official statements or views of his employer. The author does not condone any illegal behaviors mentioned or hinted at in the entry. Alright, back to the funny.

The Zbirna of the Ukraine are participating in their first World Cup as an independent nation. Zbirna, which, from what NPR tells me, essentially means "Total", are the successors to the backbone of the Soviet Union's footballing prowess, especially Dynamo Kiev, which was the KGB backed club team in the Ukraine's capital. While several Ukrainian-born players chose to player for Russia as the Soviet successor state, the Ukraine has finally emerged into its own as a footballing power. Led by Chelsea striker and 2004 European footballer of the Year Andriy Shevchenko, whom I'm even sick of at this point (oh look, he has a son named for Michael Jordan! Oh look, there he is in a SportsCenter ad! Oh look, he has a hot American wife (SFW, but Google Images can help you out if you're looking for something in an NSFW.)

Meanwhile, Tunisia's Eagles of Carthage are fighting to become the second African side through to the second round. 2004 African Nations Cup hosts (and winners), Tunisia. Coached by Roger Lemerre, you know, the guy who guided France's successful run in the 2002 World Cup, Tunisia has had trouble holding a lead in this tournament, getting the first goal against both the Saudis and the Spanish, but coming away with just one point. We'll see how they do with today's effort.

I've got my research peeps covering my back and we're once more unto the breach, dear friends. If you were with me yesterday morning, you know I sort of do a bit of stream-of-consciousness, free-flowing rundown, so I hope you'll sit back and enjoy and hey, you might learn something.

Referees: It's an all Paraguayan crew headed by Carlos Amarilla. An electrical engineer by trade, you may remember Carlos from his efforts in the U.S./Czech Republic game. (Wait a minute, I swear I've written that before...oh, wow, I did. He was the ref in Monday's Togo/Switzerland tilt. Wow, small world.)

National Anthems: The national anthem of the Ukraine is "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" (Ukraine's Glory Has Not Perished). With words by Paul Chubynskyi and music by Mikhail Verbytskyi, it served as Ukraine's national anthem from 1917 until 1920, when it was abolished until its post-Soviet restoration. In 1949, like the other non-Russian republics in the Soviet Union, the Ukraine had its own anthem, which it used until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Tunisian anthem is "Himat Al Hima", or "Defenders of the Fatherland)". Wow, I take back everything I said about the bombastic nature of other anthems. But, from 1846 until 1958, Tunisia used a piece composed by Giuseppe Verdi, which is pretty cool. OK, it's not, but play along here.

Starting Lineups: Ukraine will be playing a 3-5-2. I would too if I had Shevchenko.
1 (G) Olexandr Shovkovskiy
2 (D) Andriy Nesmachniy
6 (D) Andriy Rusol
22 (D) Viacheslav Sviderskiy
9 (M) Oleg Gusev
19 (M) Maxim Kalinichenko
11 (M) Serhiy Rebrov
8 (M) Oleg Shelayev
4 (M) Anatoliy Tymoschuk
7 (M) Andriy Shevchenko
10 (S) Andriy Voronin

Tunisia will be running a 4-5-1, because that worked out so well for the United States yesterday.
1 (G) Ali Boumnijel
19 (D) Anis Ayari
15 (D) Radhi Jaidi
12 (D) Jaouhar Mnari
6 (D) Hatem Trabelsi
13 (M) Riadh Bouazizi
14 (M) Adel Chedli
3 (M) Karim Haggui
8 (M) Mehdi Nafti
20 (M) Hamed Namouchi
5 (S) Zied Jaziri