Scoreless draw and Dunphy’s maw, familiar fare for an Irish man

In his second piece from the couch, Ian Power gets innovative with tinnies and legumes

Marouane Fellaini combined with Kevin De Bruyne to get Belgium back on track against Algeria. Photograph: Yves Herman / Reuters

Marouane Fellaini combined with Kevin De Bruyne to get Belgium back on track against Algeria. Photograph: Yves Herman / Reuters

Wed, Jun 18, 2014, 10:17

TUESDAY, JUNE 16th

16.55

And, lo, on the fifth day the deluge ended.

I’m relieved by Iran and Nigeria’s stalemate. For an Irishman, whose nation took three tournaments to score more than once a game, all this enterprise and net-bursting has been unnerving. Thankfully, there are still countries who appreciate the odd dour goalless.

I spent the morning trimming empties into two wide-brimmed cones to concentrate television audio towards my couch throne. Noisy neighbours above, below, and on either side aren’t conducive to football fever, so, innovation necessary. I tested the system on the Home and Away repeat. It sounded tinny. I call this ‘enjoying alcohol responsibly’.

Day 6, and Group H joins the festival. The ginger duel between the Red Devils and Algeria’s Desert Foxes in Belo Horizonte will provide a workout for Belgium’s dark horse credentials. South Korea face Capello’s Russia at 11 PM, coach Hong Myung-bo hoping to repeat the glory of 2002 when, as captain, his country reached a home semi-final.

Primetime though, nestled in between, sees Group A return with Mexico being entertained by the hosts in Fortaleza. Fingers crossed football, not officiating, is pre-eminent in this pool’s second fixtures.

Belgium, then. As ITV’s only match today, I’ve decided to take my medicine early and endure build-up which amounts to ‘Belgium have lots of Premiership players. Algeria don’t.’ All aboard the hype train, all aboard! At least pre-watershed and saved from a certain lager advertisement I won’t have to speculate on a world in which Ian Wright holds absolute power of veto over international referees. Ian, as we’ve seen on the pundits’ sofa, is seldom Right Right Right.

18.00

Feghouli converts his own penalty after Vertonghen grabs a fistful of jersey and Algeria reach halftime one-nil up. Wilmots’ side looks tone deaf, centrebacks filling either fullback berth especially jarring.

19.00

Fulltime: Belgium 2 – 1 Algeria.

We’ve just witnessed something quite rare: a World Cup match whistled by Marco Rodriguez without a red card. Averaging a sending off a game since Germany 2006, the Mexican referee didn’t have to intrude this time. Fellaini’s flicked header to equalise was followed 10 minutes later when Belgium countered off rare Algerian pressure and worked the ball to Dries Mertens, who thumped it home. Both goals scored by substitutes, 19 year old Origi—whose running aided Hazard’s assist for the winner—Wilmots’ third swap. Belgium, after a halftime reshuffle, seemed credible.

Dinner is a legume salad and some charred root-vegetables. Who says football fans can’t make informed dietary choices?

19.55

Rodrigo y Gabriela play the National Concert Hall this day week and, jeepers, they’ll blow the roof off if their compatriots thwart Brazil tonight. An attack-feast would be nice but cagey will be the watchword, I fear.

20.55

Eamon’s apology for the use of a ‘four-letter word’ feels serial-offender threadbare. I’ll confess, an episode with the grill and an extremely on-fire parsnip precluded my witnessing the profanity but, oh, sweet contractually obliged contrition. A first half curiously arbitrated by referee Cakir, whose booking of Ramires came only on the stroke of halftime, despite a half dozen similar—and worse—challenges. Mexican stopper Ochoa made two saves, one brilliant. Counterpart Julio César—apt with initials ‘JC’—got to the half with his jersey immaculate.

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