Halftime: Holland 2 Ivory Coast 1
A Robin Van Persie wonder goal from a free kick gave the Dutch a 1-0 lead then beautiful Dutch football ( series of four passes around the box) set up Van Nistelrooij to score the second for the Dutch. The only setback for the Dutch is an Arjen Robben yellow card for diving in the box in an attempt to win a penalty. It looked like there was contact to me though. A Didier Zokora shot from about 25 yards that cannoned off the bar is all the Ivory Coast has to show for their efforts for about 38 minutes until Barkari Kone went on a one man run to send a shot into the far post beyond the outstretched arms of Edwin Van Der Saar. After the goal, the Ivory Coast grew in confidence and should have tied the score had it not been for a poor pass by Drogba on a 2 on 1 counterattack which was broken up by Giovanni Von Bronkhorst. Prior to the five minute spell it was all the Dutch. Every attempted longball to Didier Drogba was being sent back by the Dutch as Johnny Heitinga is doing an excellent job controlling the big forward. Worse for the Ivory Coast, Drogba picked up his second yellow card of the first round for running into the Dutch keeper. This means that the Ivory Coast will have to play without their captain against Serbia & Montenegro.
The only cause for concern for the Dutch at this point is that as the first half comes to a close the Ivory Coast is dominating in midfield and putting the Dutch defense under pressure. Also, they have only had two shots on goal after about 40 minutes. However, their two shots have produced two goals. Despite the 2-1 scoreline, the Dutch are looking almost as good as Argentina at this point. That the Ivory Coast are being competitive in this game is a testament to their own attacking talent, but they lack the defensive organization necessary to keep out goals to give them a chance to win against top opponents. Their attack though has been as exciting as anyone else's in the Cup save for Argentina.
The Argentina v. matchup should be the game of the first round. It should be noted that the last time the tournament was held in Germany in 1974 the Dutch were in the finals. Just something to think about. The Dutch are up 2-1 at halftime. Looks like the Ivory Coast dream of moving to the next round is over. African teams have played six games now and they've only got one point to show for it. This can't be good.