Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the first goal of the tournament with a 55th-minute strike against Mexico in Johannesburg. South Africa would settle for a 1-1 tie and -- despite some inspired play in the group stage -- ultimately become the first host nation in World Cup history not to advance.
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The tournament featured several goalkeeping blunders, including one by England's Robert Green, who let through a harmless 20-yard shot from Clint Dempsey that gave the U.S. the equalizer in a 1-1 draw. Green was benched for England's final two group games and its round-of-16 loss to Germany.
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The deafening atmosphere at the World Cup's opening game was mainly down to 85,000 South African fans blowing their vuvuzelas, or plastic trumpets, non-stop, and FIFA heralded it as the sound of the World Cup. As the competition went on, though, the vuvuzelas' popularity quickly diminished -- both from players on the field who found it difficult to communicate over the noise and TV viewers who were irritated by the drone (the broadcasters later added more audio filters to help reduce the buzz).
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Switzerland pulled off an early stunner when it toppled the European champion and pre-tournament favorite 1-0, handing the Spanish their second loss in 50 games. Spain, however, rebounded to beat Honduras and Chile to win Group H.
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In Argentina's 4-1 victory against South Korea in Group B, Gonzalo Higuain became just the third Argentine to score a hat trick in the World Cup (along with Guillermo Stabile and Gabriel Batistuta) and the first player since Portugal's Pauleta in 2002.
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Goals were hard to come by early in the tournament, but Portugal had no such problems in its second match, against North Korea. Portugal exploded for six second-half goals in a 7-1 victory. Tiago scored twice in the second half, the only Portugal player with more than one goal.
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The 2006 runner-up had a short, eventful stay in South Africa: Its federation expelled Nicolas Anelka after he swore at coach Raymond Domenech during halftime of a loss to Mexico. The players then refused to train in solidarity for Anelka, would not allow the coach on the team bus and then made him read a statement on their behalf criticizing his bosses. France finished last in Group A with one point from three matches.
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The Americans appeared poised to become the first team in World Cup history to turn a 2-0 halftime deficit into a 3-2 victory when Maurice Edu knocked in Landon Donovan's free kick in the 86th minute of a group game against Slovenia. But referee Koman Coulibaly, in one of the most dubious calls of a tournament filled with them, waved off the goal without explanation. The play-by-play on FIFA's Web site said Edu had been whistled for a foul, but World Cup newcomer Coulibaly neither confirmed nor denied it.
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The All Whites had made the World Cup only once before, in 1982, when it lost three times and was outscored 12-2. This time, New Zealand went unbeaten and finished ahead of defending champion Italy in Group F, though draws against Paraguay, Italy and Slovenia weren't enough to send it through.
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Switzerland set a tournament record by not conceding a goal for 559 consecutive minutes, a stretch that dated to its opener at the 2006 World Cup. The streak ended when Chile scored against Switzerland, the only goal the Swiss allowed in group play. Switzerland finished with three points and failed to advance.
11 of 19AP
Needing a victory to reach the knockout rounds, the U.S. defeated Algeria 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal in injury time from Landon Donovan. The win catapulted the Americans to the top of Group C, but they failed to take advantage of a favorable draw in losing to Ghana in the round of 16.
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Captain Fabio Cannavaro and the aging Italians mounted a weak defense of their World Cup title, finishing last (with two draws and a loss) in Group F, which included a not-so-fearsome threesome of Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand.
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Proponents of goal-line technology had another reason to lobby for video replay after what happened in England's 4-1 loss to Germany in the round of 16. England trailed 2-1 in the first half when Frank Lampard's shot hit the crossbar and landed about a yard behind the goal line. But the teams played on as referee Jorge Larrionda didn't rule it a goal. ''The game probably would be different after the goal," England coach Fabio Capello said, but instead Germany scored twice more in the second half and advanced.
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Carlos Tevez was clearly offside when he scored on a 26th-minute header to give Argentina a 1-0 lead in its round-of-16 match against Mexico, which had controlled play until that point. Referee Roberto Rosetti of Italy allowed the goal after consulting with his linesman. Argentina went on to win 3-1.
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Five-time world champion and top-ranked Brazil surprisingly crumbled in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. After controlling the first 45 minutes and taking a 1-0 lead into halftime, Brazil conceded goals in the 53rd and 68th minutes (the first an own goal by Felipe Melo) and had Melo sent off for stomping on Arjen Robben's leg in the 73rd minute. Two days after the loss, Brazil coach Dunga was fired.
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Bidding to become the first African nation to reach a World Cup semifinal, Ghana was awarded a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time after Uruguay's Luis Suarez used his arm to prevent a goal. But Asamoah Gyan, who had scored twice on PKs earlier in the tournament, clanged his shot off the crossbar to keep the score at 1-1. The game went into a penalty shootout, where Uruguay prevailed 4-2 to book a semifinal berth for the first time in 40 years.
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Making his 100th appearance for Germany, Miroslav Klose scored twice in a 4-0 rout against Argentina in the quarterfinals. The brace gave Klose 14 career World Cup goals, tied for second with German legend Gerd Mueller and one behind all-time leader Ronaldo of Brazil.
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The Netherlands and Spain made the World Cup final with victories against Uruguay and Germany, respectively. The Dutch did it with goals three minutes apart in the second half (after a spectacular 35-yard strike from Giovanni Van Bronckhorst in the first half) en route to a 3-2 win, while Spain dominated possession and got the only goal of the match on a second-half header from Carles Puyol. A championship victory would be the first for either country.
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Midfielder Andres Iniesta scored with four minutes of extra time remaining to give Spain a 1-0 win over the Netherlands and its first World Cup title.
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