FIFA must have been hoping that Graham Poll’s comical performance in awarding Simunic 3 yellow cards would be the last refereeing disaster of this World Cup. Step up referee Valentin Ivanov who secured his own place in the limelight by setting two World Cup records: sixteen(!) yellow cards and four sending offs - Deco, Costinha, Boulahrouz and Van Bronckhorst. Luis Figo was extremely lucky to escape being the fifth when he received only a yellow card for head-butting Van Bommel. FIFA then compounded the mistake by declaring that Figo’s punishment was sufficient today.
The match was an ill-tempered affair but Ivanov’s trigger happiness made it worse. Van Bommel had already hacked down Ronaldo before Boulahrouz stuck his studs into Ronaldo’s thigh and should have received more than a yellow. Ronaldo had to be replaced as a result of the challenge and may miss the quarterfinal with England. As the cards began to flow from Ivanov’s pocket, things gradually got worse. Players started to take advantage, exaggerating their dives in order to ensure Ivanov would book the offender. He obliged.
The only goal of the game was scored by Maniche, who combined well with Deco before beating two players and smashing the ball past Van der Sar. Holland had chances to equalise but were denied either by Ricardo or the woodwork. The match also completed Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s remarkable fall from grace this year with Van Basten benching him in favour of Dirk Kuyt.
Here’s Maniche’s goal: