Dirtiest match yet smashes Cup record

With cards flying thick and fast, Sunday's showdown between Portugal and the Netherlands has broken an inglorious World Cup record.

    Portuguese midfielder Costinha gets his marching orders

    Scoring an unprecedented 20 cards - 16 yellows and four reds - the match goes down as the dirtiest yet in the tournament and left both sides ultimately down to just nine men each.

    To date Germany 2006 has already broken the record for red cards shown in a World Cup finals - and that's with 12 matches still to play.

    Sunday's hail of cards came after what proved to be the only goal of the game from Portugal's Maniche, booking them a meeting with England on saturday.

    But with two of Portugal's star players - Deco and Costinha - now suspended for the next match, that looks set to give Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari something of a headache.

    The worst incidence of on-pitch violence so far remains the occasion when Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi elbowed US striker Brian McBride in the face to earn a four-match ban.

    "I'm used to playing in South America. Especially against Argentinian teams, it's war."

    Luiz Felipe Scolari
    Portugal coach

    That encounter saw three red cards as the Americans had Pablo Mastroeni and Eddie Pope dismissed.

    Commenting on Sunday's card carnage, Scolari admitted that "there were excesses on both sides - but the sending off of Deco was provocation."

    "FIFA always talks about fairplay but tonight we saw several gestures that were anything but."

    Scolari added that Luis Figo, who could have taken an early bath for appearing to butt Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel, "is not Jesus Christ".


    A torrent of cards broke
    tournament records

    Nonetheless the Brazilian-born coach said he was used to such incidents from his time in South America.

    "It was just like a game in the Libertadores Cup, which is very  rough," he said. "I'm used to playing in South America. Especially against Argentinian teams, it's war."

    Scorer Maniche meanwhile pinned the blame on Russian referee Valentin Ivanov for the stream of cards.

    "I don't think that it was such a violent match to merit so many sendings off," said the Portuguese.

    Dutch coach Marco van Basten described the match as one of the worst footballing spectacles he had ever witnessed, although Ivanov did not escape his censure either.

    "What is also regrettable is that the refereeing has such an  influence on such an important match," he said.

    "They stopped the game from being a pretty spectacle."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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