WORLD CUP 2014: Match Reports (including 12/06/14)

Thursday 12th June 2014

GROUP A

BRAZIL 3 – 1 CROATIA
Thursday 12th June 2014

Brazil goals: Neymar x2, Oscar
Croatia goal: Marcelo (o.g)

Two goals from Neymar and a late goal from Oscar secured all three points for Brazil in their opening Group A game and the opening game of this summers competition. After a relatively cagey start, it was Croatia who broke the deadlock and got the competition underway, albeit thanks to a player on the opposing team. Croatia went 1-0 up from a Marcelo own goal and a shock looked to be on the cards for the home crowd on the opening night. However shortly after the game was soon level, Neymar opening his account with a scuffed left footed shot into the bottom right hand goal, slotting it past Croatia keeper Pletikosa from distance.

Then after going in 1-1 at half time, Croatia came back after the break the stronger side and looked the more likely to score. That was until the 71st minute when a controversial penalty decision led to Brazil taking the lead. Neymar doubled his tally for the night with a penalty kick which is sure to have people talking for days to come. Arguably Pletikosa could have done better in preventing it from going in and this proved to be the case as Oscar put the game to bed late on with a good old fashioned toe-peck into the bottom left hand corner, securing all three points for the hosts.

All in all, an entertaining affair but one which will be remembered more so for the poor goalkeeping from both sides and ‘that’ penalty decision which ultimately turned the game in Brazil’s favour.

Friday 13th June 2014

GROUP A:

MEXICO 1 – 0 CAMEROON
Friday 13th June 2014

Mexico goal: Peralta

In the second of the opening games from Group A, the two teams whose chances of progressing were already written off way before the tournament got underway, faced each other in a game marred by the poor quality of refereeing as seen previously in the opening tie between fellow group members Brazil and Croatia. On two occasions in the first half, Mexico rightfully took the lead with two valid goals from ex Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona striker Giovani Dos Santos before they were wrongly disallowed by referee, deemed as ‘offside’. Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan ruled both goals out and both sides went in level at half-time following a half where Mexico fully deserved a two goal cushion. And despite a relatively open start to the second half, Mexico made sure of their lead with a goal from striker Oribe Peralta, a rebounded shot from the man of the moment Dos Santos and a goal which referee Roldan and his officials could definitely deem as a no goal. This result increases Mexico’s chances of qualification and their game against Croatia will be key to their progression in this summer’s competition.

GROUP B:

SPAIN 1 – 5 NETHERLANDS (our featured commentary game on @talkingtikitaka)
Friday 13th June 2014

Spain goal: Xabi Alonso
Netherlands goals: Robben x2, Van Persie x2, De Vrij

In arguably the game of the tournament so far (albeit after only two days) and one which possibly could prove to be the game of the tournament come it’s conclusion, have we possibly seen the capitulation of the successful Spain which has dominated international football for so long? Although Wesley Sneijder had the first clear cut chance of the game in failing to drive the ball home from close range after a one on one with Spain shot stopper Iker Casillas, it was Spain who drew the first blood in the tie after Diego Costa’s trailing leg was caught by Netherlands defender Ron Vlaar. The consequent penalty was dispatched comfortably by Xabi Alonso and it looked like another one of those nights for Spain who we are so used to see dominating internationally. This was until late on in the second half after a pin-point cross from unsung Dutch hero Daley Blind set up captain Robin Van Persie for his first of the evening who cleverly put Holland back in the tie with a lobbed header over the head of Casillas.

As both teams re-entered onto the pitch after half time it wasn’t just the weather that was to change during the concluding half of the tie. Arjen Robben got things moving with a goal to put the Dutch back in it on 53 minutes. This one goal cushion was short-lived however, as things went from bad to worse for Spain within the space of 12 minutes as Stefan De Vrij bundled home from short-range to swing the match fully in Holland’s favour. Spain’s efforts to get back into the tie were lacklustre at best with the introductions of both Fernando Torres and Pedro proving to be ineffective as the Dutch increased their lead 7 minutes later through Robin Van Persie, bagging his second of the night. And the rout was completed on 8 minutes later by Arjen Robben who capitalised on another example of both defending and goalkeeping and calmly slotted his second of the evening into the top right hand corner, making it Holland’s fifth goal of the night against the current world champions.

Ultimately, Louis Van Gaal’s side fully deserved their 5-1 victory and it could have been more if Sneijder scored earlier on and not forgetting a Van Persie shot which rocketed against the bar. Spain will need to regroup very quickly if they stand any chance of qualifying as tonight really did send a message to the footballing world, a message which will breathe optimism into the several of the elite countries participating in this summer’s tournament; Spain. can. be. beaten. Whether their demise coincides with the fall of Barcelona in recent times or simply just a sign of the times ranging from ageing players or a death of tiki-taka, Spain need to change something against Chile or else it could be an early flight back home for La Roja.

CHILE 3 – 1 AUSTRALIA
Friday 13th June 2014

Chile goals: Alexis Sanchez, Valdivia, Beausajour
Australia goal: Cahill

Arguably heading into their opening Group B with an unexpected boost following Spain’s surprise defeat to the Netherlands, Chile certainly made no mistake against the Socceroos and cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory. Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Chileans on 12 minutes with a near post finish and this was then followed up only a matter of minutes later by Jorge Valdivia whose finish from outside of the box not only put Chile 2-0 up but also sent a signal of intent not only to both Spain and Holland, but also to the rest of the competing countries in the 2014 World Cup. Chile however did show some signs of weaknesses and this was exposed on 35 minutes as the Australian poster-boy Tim Cahill leaped up and headed home from close range to put Australia back in it heading into the halftime break.

As the second half got underway, Bresciano and Cahill looked dangerous on a number of occasions but both failed to produce the goods as Chile held on to a slender 2-1 lead. That was until the 92nd minute when Wigan midfielder Jean Beausejour put the game to bed with a cool finish after a spirited fightback from Australia in a performance where they really did give it their best shot against a very strong Chile side. Chile however march on into their next group game against Spain with 3 points already in the bag, more than their Spanish competitors, and it’s fair to say that the pressure really is on Spain to recapture their World Cup winning form of 2010 to stand any chance in this summer’s competition.

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