Keeping it safe, differently
The standard of goalkeeping at the World Cup can be summed up by the fact that the most memorable save of the tournament was made by a centre forward.sports Updated: Jul 11, 2010 02:04 IST
The standard of goalkeeping at the World Cup can be summed up by the fact that the most memorable save of the tournament was made by a centre forward.
Conversely, two of the best displays by a man wearing gloves came from Ghana's Richard Kingson, who made most of his saves with his feet.
The tournament was not a vintage one for goalkeepers, with few doing much to enhance their reputations and many doing the opposite as they struggled to deal with the unpredictable aerodynamics of the Jabulani ball.
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez's flying one-handed block of Dominic Adiyiah's diving header in the last minute of extra-time in their quarter-final against Ghana was an effort most keepers would have been proud of, but only a handful of saves by conventional custodians stand out in the memory.
Kingson's display in that match and in the group phase was impressive, if a little unorthodox. The man who spent last season as third-choice for Premier League side Wigan Athletic was always quick to see danger and used his legs to great effect.
There were some “normal” saves, however. It is hard to imagine the Netherlands coming back from 2-0 down against Brazil in their quarter-final but it looked certain to be the scoreline until Maarten Stekelenburg went full length to touch Kaka's curling shot around a post.
Fellow finalists Spain can also thank Iker Casillas for his penalty save against Paraguay.
Fernando Muslera was a major factor in Uruguay conceding only two goals in five games before the semi-finals and Paraguay's Justo Villar recovered from a first-game flap that handed a goal to Italy to have a good tournament.
Germany’s Manuel Neuer was unspectacular but went about his business with a calm certainty. While others flailed and shifted their weight prematurely while dealing with long range shots, he ensured that the many he faced, particularly against Argentina in the quarter-final, were safely swallowed up in his chest.
Eduardo was excellent for Portugal against Spain but will probably be unhappy with his parry of David Villa’s shot back into the striker's path for the only goal of the game.
The first week of action featured a series of blunders, with England's Robert Green and Algeria's Faouzi Chaouchi both dropped after allowing tame shots to get past them.