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

GROUP C

COLOMBIA 3-0 GREECE
(featured commentary game covered on @talkingtikitaka)
Saturday 14th June 2014

Colombia goals: Armero, Gutierrez, Rodriguez

Colombia and Greece got Group C underway in the early game of four on Day 3 of the World Cup and the bookies odds proved to be correct as Colombia marched to a 3-0 victory. The game started slowly but a quick attack from Colombia resulted in the first goal of the game after just six minutes. Left back Pablo Armero bundled home from inside the box with a deflected shot past Karnezis and put Colombia 1-0 up. Greece then slowly grew into the game after the early goal left them deflated but it was Colombia who always looked the more likely of the two to score with James Rodriguez coming close in the first half. Despite late chances for Greece in the latter stages of the first half, it was Colombia who held a slender one goal lead over their Group C rivals at the halfway point.

As the second period got underway, Colombia built on their first half showing and it took 13 minutes for them to double their lead. James Rodriguez was involved again as his corner eventually found it’s way through to Gutierrez and it looked as if there was no way back for Greece. Giorgios Samaras improved on his first half showing and was Greece’s most threatening player throughout but it was Gekas who came closest for Greece whose shot hit the bar late on. Eventually as Colombia pressed for a third, Greece’s fate was sealed as star man of the moment James Rodriguez got himself on the scoresheet; the final nail in the coffin for Greece as Colombia clearly prove why they’re everybody’s favourites to top the group.

JAPAN 1 – 2 IVORY COAST
Saturday 14th June 2014

Japan goal: Honda
Ivory Coast goals: Bony, Gervinho

In the second of the opening group games from Group C, it was Japan who come against the very highly esteemed Ivory Coast in a game that took place at 2AM GMT. The earlier Colombia victory was most likely expected by both and expected ku both played to win to provide at direct competition to Colombia. Japan started the brighter of the two in very full and rainy conditions, although the humid, close conditions did seen to be a problem for both early on. Despite the weather Japan made full use of their bright start and took the lead 16 minutes in after Internazionale left sided utility man Yuto Nagatomo supplied a lovely through ball to fellow Serie A compatriot, Keisuke Honda of AC Milan who hammered home into the top left hand of Barry’s goal.

At 1-0 up, Japan continued to look impressive as Aurier and Gervinho struggled to make any impact after their attempts at goal were comfortably dealt with by Kawashima in the Japanese goal. Former Chelsea man Salomon Kalou had the best chance if the half for the Ivory Coast but his headed attempt at goal was direct wide of the Japanese goal. Therefore with a change needed for Los Elefantes to get anything from the game, cometh the hour, cometh Didier Drogba. After the former Chelsea man was overlooked in the starting line-up with Swansea striker Wilfried Bony the preferred choice, the arrival of Drogba seemingly turned the game in the Ivorians favour. Two headed goals in three minutes just after the 60 minute mark from Wilfried Bony and Roma talisman Gervinho after two almost identical balls in from the highly sought after and young Toulouse right back Serge Aurier, put the game to bed and knocked the stuffing right out of the opposition.

Although Japan looked for an equalising goal, the Ivory Coast held on and a gritty 2-1 victory put Ivory Coast in the driving seat alongside group favourites Colombia for qualification from Group C.

 

GROUP D

ITALY 2 -1 ENGLAND
Saturday 14th June 2014

Italy goals: Marchisio, Balotelli
England goal: Sturridge

The follow up to the shock Costa Rica result was to be the grudge-match between the two sides that met only two years ago in the latter stages of Euro 2012. England opted for youth with both Welbeck and Sterling starting in an attacking three which saw Wayne Rooney start on the left with Sterling in a number 10 supporting fellow club striker Daniel Sturridge. Italy lined up with a reasonably make-shift, albeit fully adequate defensive back four following injury to Mattia De Sciglio. Ciro Immobile started on the bench with ‘super’ Mario Balotelli the preferred option to lead the line for the Italians. Whilst the game got off to a quick start, it’d be fair to say it was England who had the upperhand in the early proceedings. A long range effort from Raheem Sterling which had even the BBC tricked as to whether or not it was actually a goal or not was followed up by Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson whose long range effort was saved PSG keeper Sirigu, a replacement for the injured Italian number 1 Gianluigi Buffon.

As both teams fought to draw first blood, Italy grew into the game as Andrea Pirlo began to dictate play as effectively as he did back in the Euro 2012 Quarter Final and you got the impression that a goal was not far away. Then on the 35th minute, Italy took the lead. Marchisio struck from outside of the box after losing his marker and his shot travelled through a busy penalty area into the bottom left of Joe Hart’s England goal. But their undeserved lead didn’t last for very long at all. England instantly responded to the opening goal of the game with a move that was made by two key (and very clever) balls. Raheem Sterling sent Rooney down the left wing with a through ball and his cross into the box was met my Daniel Sturridge who fired home clinically from close range and followed his very impressive goal with his trademark celebration which is sure to get the watching world audience talking.

The second half kicked off just as the first did with England continually looking for a vital goal to take the lead, however you always got the impression that although Italy attacked very little, they certainly made their chances count in the few times they did so. And this belief was proven right as passenger like Balotelli for most of the game headed home past former team-mate Joe Hart and put the Italians 2-1 up. Balotelli had already came close before that after Phil Jagielka cleared off the line and it very much seemed like Italy were in complete control. England still pushed on for what would seemingly have been a valuable point but it’s far to say the likes of Wayne Rooney and Glen Johnson were far from their best, whether it be a positional problem with Rooney or just a poor performance from the Manchester United striker.

The introduction of Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana shown an attacking signal of intent by Hodgson to chase the game and a vital equalising goal but England struggled to ultimately to make the breakthrough against a very strong Italy towards the latter stages of the game. In fact it was even Italy in the form of Andrea Pirlo who came closest to adding another goal to the tie with a free kick which swerved left, then right, and left Joe Hart stranded on the goal-line. As the full-time whistle blew, Italy marched on with three points in the bag and look favourites to qualify as group winners meaning the tie between Uruguay and England is even more important for both sides with regard to the second qualification spot from Group D.

URUGUAY 1 – 3 COSTA RICA
Saturday 14th June 2014

Uruguay goal: Cavani
Costa Rica goals: Campbell, Duarte, Urena

After the opening Group C kicked off the day’s proceedings, it was then the turn of Group D and both Uruguay and Costa Rica to get their World Cup campaigns underway. And with the other two group members playing in the following game, on paper it was a fantastic opportunity for favourites Uruguay to get three points on the board against a team whose chances were already written off before the competition even began. Also it goes without saying that a Uruguay win would subsequently put the pressure on both Italy and England in the later game. As the game began it was clear from the off that Costa Rica were certainly to be no pushovers as Uruguay pressed for an opening goal. And after a Uruguay free kick on 16 minutes led to Uruguayan centre back Diego Lugano being brought down by Costa Rica defender Diaz, we had our first goal of the game as a penalty was then awarded.

The PSG striker made no mistake from the spot and coolly put Uruguay ahead, slotting the ball powerfully past an inform Keylor Navas in the Costa Rica goal. So at 1-0 up it seemed as if everything was going according to plan for Uruguay, and although Costa Rica continued to make a good account of themselves, Uruguay held on and entered halftime with a one goal advantage. Yet despite the advantage, the second half couldn’t have been anymore different for both as Costa Rica produced one of the biggest shocks of the tournament so far. Arsenal man Joel Campbell got the all important equaliser nine minutes after the break with a fantastic half volley past Muslera. Then a mere three minutes later, Duarte made it to for the Group D underdogs as Bolanos’ free kick was met in the six yard box by Duarte who headed comfortably past Muslera.

A shock was already on the cards at this point as Uruguay poured men forward to at least get things back on level terms and after tactical adjustments and substitutions, Uruguay were still no closer to any goal to bring the game back to a stalemate. And despite Uruguay coming close, the Costa Rica sub Ureno confirmed Uruguay’s fate and their failure to secure three points in a game they would have expected to as he latched onto a great through ball from Campbell and delicately stroked the ball home from a tight angle. Uruguay will look to make amends for a disappointing performance and result in what could prove to be a vital game for both teams on Thursday against England whilst Costa Rica face Italy on the same day in a game where Italy will certainly now see Costa Rica not just a tough team to beat but also their closest challengers for qualification out of the group.

 

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