After the tournament’s first rest day of the tournament yesterday, the action got back underway at the Stade Mayol in Toulon with the Semi Final action. Chile reached their second Final in as many years, edging Holland on penalties, whilst France did the same in beating Argentina on spot kicks.
Both coaches kept faith with their strongest teams, although the Dutch found room for Oussama Assaidi ahead of Jeffrey Sarpong. The goalscoring action came early in the game, with Holland taking the lead after eleven minutes through Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s second goal of the tournament. The lead lasted barely ten minutes though, as Eduardo Vargas tied things up for the South Americans with his third of the competition, putting him level with team-mate Gerson Martinez and Portugal’s Fabio Coentrao as top goalscorer on three goals.
An all-action match saw chances at both ends, particularly for Chile in the later stages of the second half, before alarming controversy and some hapless refereeing stole the closing stages. After Erik Pieters had gone close with a surging run down the left, he became involved in incidents with three Chileans attempting to tackle him. The third of these was Rafael Caroca just inside the Chilean penalty area. He made contact with the Dutch left-back, and mayhem followed. What appeared to happen was that the referee sent Caroca off – a straight red card it would seem – but managed to give Chile a free-kick. In any event, it was in stoppage time, and the match ended a draw, and went to penalty kicks. Below is how they transpired.
1-0 – Donovan Deekman SCORES – low into the bottom corner, Toselli goes the wrong way
1-1 – Gerson Martinez SCORES – Chile’s supersub goes the same way, sending Mulder in the other direction
2-1 – Eelco Horsten SCORES – steps up left footed and smashes the ball down the middle
2-2 – Marco Medel SCORES – a second left foot take in a row also goes central, lower and more controlled than Horsten
3-2 – Daryl Janmaat SCORES – best penalty yet, fizzed into the bottom corner, beating Toselli’s sprawl for pace and accuracy
3-3 – Eduardo Vargas SCORES – off a short run, Vargas goes left and sends the keeper the wrong way
4-3 – Geert-Arend Roorda SCORES -almost an identical penalty to Janmaat’s
4-4 – Luis Pavez SCORES – the quality of these takes have been brilliant, Pavez steps up and passes it into the top corner
4-4 – Ricky van Wolfswinkel MISSES – as if he’s just been jinxed, a low and central penalty to Toselli’s right is easily saved
4-5 – Eugenio Mena SCORES – Chile are into the Final as Mena just beats Mulder with a low drive
Chile therefore progressed to their second Toulon Final in as many years, where they would await either Argentina or France, who kicked off just fifteen minutes later on the same pitch.
It didn’t take long for the game to get into action, with the hosts, in their change strip of red shirts, taking the lead after just five minutes. Younousse Sankharé showed great skill on the edge of the area with stepovers and when a chance to cross came, he picked out Jires Kembo-Ekoko, who took the chance first time, left footed from 12 yards out, scuffing the ball low past Marchesín. Les Bleus – or perhaps Les Rouges on the night – nearly made it two minutes later when another fierce long range shot from Bakary Sako bounced awkwardly for Marchesín, and he scrambled it away for a corner.
Two minutes later at the other end and it was 1-1, with a piece of magic from the tournament’s own magician, Diego Buonanotte. In a seemingly innocuous position just inside the left wing, he turned on the jets and darted through the middle with the ball, skipping one challenge, dancing around Mamadou Sakho’s effort, and slotting past Johnny Placide for arguably the goal of the tournament, and adding his name to those tied on three goals as top scorer. It was the Argentinian’s turns to have the momentum, and some fine play from Franco Jara earned himself a chance, a left footed effort well saved low by the agile Placide.
A breathless first half continued at breakneck speed with France coming back, and going close through Sankharé, Sako and Bocaly, the lattermost having his effort saved on the line when he really should have scored. He got hold of his next effort a minute later, from 25 yards, but Marchesín dealt well with it. The stopper was having a fine half, and made his best save with just minutes remaining in the half. Having just beaten away yet another rocket shot from Sako, he recovered to his feet in time to be set for a cross from the left which Sako headed from eight yards, forcing a fine reflex save to keep the scores level.
Perhaps it was the pace of the game catching up with the players, or the realisation of the stakes at hand, but the second half took on a slower, more cautious tempo. Diego Perotti was the liveliest player, whilst France lost Cheikh M’Bengue to injury ten minutes into the half. Things were made much harder for Argentina three minutes later with the dismissal of Santiago Gallucci for a second booking. He pulled the shorts of Sankharé as he escaped his attentions, and whilst it was a foul, the booking and subsequent dismissal was perhaps harsh, and reflected some debatable refereering over the course of the tournament.
It naturally led to a more defensive minded Argentinian approach, but with Buonanotte they will always have a chance of producing something. With fifteen minutes to go he once more picked up the ball in space and with a burst of acceleration got to 30 yards out and hit a left footed shot with power, but Placide was equal to the shot and spectacularly beat it away, and smothered the rebound. The tiny bundle of genius then showed off his passing prowess, sliding an inch-perfect ball to Jara through the middle, but his composure deserted him and Placide was once again able to make the save.
With the clock sliding towards the second penalty shootout of the day, France had a fantastic change for the winner. Gregory Sertic produced a fantastic tackle to win possession deep in Argentinian territory and provided a perfect cross for David N’Gog. He controlled the ball, spun his defender and shot at goal, but Marchesín was once again heroic in making a world-class save, deflecting the ball onto the crossbar and away. It was the last major incident, and the Stade Mayol was indeed to see its second shootout of the day. Once again, below is how it went:
0-0 – Diego Perotti MISSES – he shoots high, beating Placide but hitting the crossbar
0-1 – Grégory Sertic SCORES – swept low into the bottom corner, Marchesín guessed right but was beaten for accuracy
1-1 – Ever Banega SCORES – his third successful take of the tournament, rolls it the opposite way to Placide’s dive
1-1 – Etienne Capoue MISSES – the French captain hits his shot way too central, and Marchesín pounces on it gleefully
1-1 – German Pezzella MISSES – France regain their advantage as Placide gets down well to his right to make a good save
1-2 – David N’Gog SCORES – goes the same way as Pezzella but finds the back of the net…just
1-2 – Franco Jara MISSES – Placide makes another save, diving away to his left and palming away left handed in impressive fashion
1-3 – Bakary Sako SCORES – smashed down the middle in typical fashion to put the hosts into the Final
Johnny Placide was the French hero with two fine stops in the shootout and after the French disappointment last year, they are back in the Final for the fifth time in six years. With the France/Chile match of last year being an outstanding eight-goal thriller, Friday’s Final promises to be one not to miss.