Sunday, June 11, 2006

The temptation to title this with some kind of religion based pun is *almost* overwhelming

I was worried about this one - I was fearful that the tournament's first dull game might have been afoot (well, apart from England Paraguay, but that doesn't count cos England were playing). My doubts were shortlived however as Mexico and Iran played out another cracker. Jonathon Pearce suceeded where so few have, going 90 minutes without patronising Iran, one of the competition's less well established sides and the BBC are MILES ahead of ITV again this year with studio pundits too, although they still look weak in the tricky co-commentating position. Mark Bright is surely the most negative co-commentator in the game today, always very quick to point out mistakes. Pearce, having calmed some of his more flamboyant excesses is, for my money, the natural successor to Motty as the Beeb's lead voice, although his undoubted competence may count against him.

Mexico were much the better side, especially in the second half, but Iran showed that until an awful mix up at the back, first the keeper and then the centre half getting in on the comedy action, they had looked secure at the back, and in the first half they had looked threatening going forward. They seemed far too happy to play for a draw though, a strategy which seems very questionable considering a. how difficult it is and b. that it would mean they'd probably have to get at least a point against Portugal. Once they had let one in they seemed to go somewhat to pieces and though Zinha did really well to create and finish Mexico's third, he was left completley unmarked in the box by the Iranian defense. Mexico looked really solid at the back, rarely troubled, and Marquez had a brilliant game. The scenes of emotion from the Mexican keeper, whose father died on Thursday and who has flown to and from Mexico since then, and his teammates were very moving. This really is a beautiful game.