The pick of the games saw each of the 64 games at the 2006 World Cup Finals and here are our picks of the matches of the tournament.

Party time for the Ivory Coast
Party time for the Ivory Coast

Honourable mentions:

Ivory Coast 3 – Serbia and Montenegro 2 in Munich

While Netherlands and Argentina had already qualified for the second round these two sides came together with only pride at stake.

The Europeans sprung out of the blocks with two early goals, but the Africans held their nerve to fight back to win 3-2.

It was a tremendous fighting victory for Ivory Coast – especially without influential striker Didier Drogba, and one that showed the Elephants could have had a longer stay in Germany had their draw been kinder.

Croatia 2 – Australia 2 in Stuttgart

The final game of Group F saw Croatia needing to win to progress and all looked to be going to plan for the men in the red and white checks with a goal to Dario Simic in the early minutes.

Harry Kewell celebrates his side’s second

Harry Kewell celebrates his side’s

The Socceroos fought back though, and twice came from behind to equalize and qualify for the round of 16 for the first time ever.

The match also held special interest due to the amount of Australian players with Croatian backgrounds, and Croatian players who had grown up Down Under. 

This match will also be forever remembered for referee Graham Poll’s infamous three yellow card trick.

3rd:  Italy 1 – USA 1 in Kaiserslautern

A match with enormous quantities of passion (and red cards), as the USA looked to respond to their hammering at the hands of the Czech Republic in their first match of the tournament.

The USA pushed Italy all the way despite being down to nine men for the most of the second half against a 10-man Italy who had also lost Daniele De Rossi for an elbow on striker Brian McBride.

Not one for the purists but in terms of entertainment value and drama, an absolute classic.

2nd:  Argentina 2 – Mexico 1 in Leipzig

A game which could be remembered merely for the classic goal from Maxi Rodriguez, but shouldn’t be.

That goal

That goal

The Mexicans started with a bang with a goal from captain Rafael Marquez and pushed Jose Pekerman’s highly fancied side all the way to extra time, only for the Atletico Madrid midfielder to seal the win with one for the scrapbook.

Mexico were so close to a quarter-final date with the host nation, but it was the Albiceleste who advanced from this exciting second round clash.

1st:  Ghana 2 – Czech Republic 0 in Cologne

In our humble opinion the best game of the tournament – free flowing football, drama and some great goals.

Czech keeper Petr Cech tried his hardest to keep his side in the match, but goals to Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari saw the Ghanaians through.

There was drama when Ghana were awarded a penalty, with the Czechs having a player sent off, only for Asamoah Gyan to hit his spot kick before the referee had blown the whistle and receive a yellow card of his own.

Striker Gyan then sent his second effort into the woodwork to add to the tense atmosphere in Cologne.

It was the beginning of the end for the Czechs, but just the start for the Africans who showed why they had been labeled the “Brazil of Africa”.

Source : Al Jazeera

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