Jedinak 54' (pen)
van Persie 58'
RED: Song 40'
If you were expecting a sled run in the day's opener -- and to be honest, we were -- you were in for a surprise. Arjen Robben got things going for the Oranje fairly early, outpacing the Australian defense and rolling a left-footed strike over the leg of Matthew Ryan. But pretty much directly off the kickoff, Ryan McGowan lofted a perfect pass into the box from about 35 yards out and Tim Cahill struck an absolutely gorgeous volley just under the crossbar to level. The teams attacked well the remainder of the half, but nobody was able to find the net. Just after halftime, Robin van Persie picked up a yellow card to go with the one he earned against Spain. That's critical for the Dutch now, as they'll be without RVP's services in the group decider next week. It looked like it was going to be even more of a disaster seven minutes later. Oliver Bozanic ripped a cross which just happened to slam right into Daryl Janmaat's hand, earning the Roos a penalty kick. Mile Jedinak slammed the kick home, giving Down Under a 2-1 lead. Would the Netherlands be facing a must-win without their star striker?
Four minutes later, van Persie atoned for his error. Hovering in the box, he took a short pass from Memphis Depay, dribbled once, and smoked a strike into the upper left corner to equalize. Ten minutes later, a counter ended with a 25-yard blast from Depay himself, which evaded a diving Ryan and gave the Netherlands the lead. They would not relinquish, and all but secured advancement.
Chile struck twice in the first half to secure passage to the knockout rounds for both themselves and the Dutch. Twenty minutes in, Charles Aránguiz tapped a short cross to Eduardo Vargas, who one-timed into the net. Just before halftime, Iker Casillas committed another goaltending error, punching a shot from Alexis Sánchez back out into the box. Aránguiz was right there and drilled Chile's second goal home, and that was that. Spain struggled valiantly in the second half, managing 12 shots (8 on target), but could not penetrate Claudio Bravo's perimeter. Chile and the Dutch will now face off to see who gets to avoid -- most likely -- Brazil, and the current World Cup holders Spain will play Australia requiring a win to avoid finishing dead last in the group, because a draw just won't do it. Whoof. At least Spain won't have to deal with Tim Cahill, who picked up his second yellow card against the Dutch and, like van Persie, will be a spectator in the group stage final.
Group B standings after two matches: Netherlands 6 (+5), Chile 6 (+4), Australia 0 (-3), Spain 0 (-6)
The trend concluded in the nightcap, as Croatia obliterated the Indomitable Lions. The bleeding started eleven minutes in when Ivica Olic took a perfect pass from Ivan Perišic and dropped it in the corner of the net. Croatia very nearly doubled their lead a few minutes later, but Perišic's shot was cleared away. Just before the half Alex Song got himself sent off for throwing a hand at Mario Mandžukic, and the disadvantage to asserted itself within minutes. Perišic was able to blitz through the shorthanded defense and rocket the second goal in. Just a couple of minutes later Mandžukic barely missed making it 3-0; ten minutes later he didn't miss, heading the ball in off a corner. Twelve minutes later, Mandžukic made it a pair when Eduardo took a shot from outside and Mandžukic tapped in the rebound off keeper Charles Itandje. Near the end, Ivan Rakitic almost made it 5-0, barely missing a wide-open net when the ball took an unfortunate curve, and that may be relevant in a week. Croatia still sits third in the group thanks to the Brazil-Mexico draw on Tuesday, but they're only a point adrift. They can't afford a draw with Mexico in the final game of the group stage because they'd need Cameroon to beat Brazil, and at this point that looks about as likely as winning the lottery. But a win over Mexico will see the Blazers through cleanly. For Cameroon... after attempting to hold out for more money before deigning to get on the plane to Brazil, the last week has been a pretty bad look.
Group A standings after two matches: Brazil 4 (+2), Mexico 4 (+1), Croatia 3 (+2), Cameroon 0 (-5)
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||GROUP||TEAMS / SITE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Colombia vs Ivory Coast
Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília
Ivory Coast 11:4
Uruguay vs England
Arena de São Paulo, São Paulo
Japan vs Greece
Arena das Dunas, Natal
Game 21: Colombia-Ivory Coast
The same squad which had their way with Greece last week is expected to take the pitch for Colombia, as striker Carlos Bacca is still doubtful. Ivory Coast may also go with the same lineup that handled Japan, but they could opt to start Didier Drogba rather than holding him in reserve. On the one hand, it was Drogba's appearance that led to the win last week; on the other, being able to bring him in late was a spark. Neither squad can secure advancement here unless Japan and Greece draw (in which case the winner, if there is one, is through). A draw, however, wouldn't be the worst result for either side, as they both get to finish against clearly lesser competition. Jack Sargeant has SB Nation's match preview.
Game 23: Uruguay-England
The starting eleven is expected to remain the same for England, but expect Wayne Rooney to be brought back inside rather than playin on the wing, where Danny Welbeck will be stationed. Uruguay, on the other hand, has some changes forced by circumstance. Maxi Pereira is gone thanks to a red card, and Diego Lugano's injured. Luis Suárez may still be unable to go as well. England was not horrible against Italy, and Uruguay most certainly was against Costa Rica. So the expected outcome today is rather obvious; look for the Three Lions to pick up three points. It's Jack Sargeant again with the in-depth preview at SB Nation.
Game 22: Japan-Greece
The loss to Ivory Coast was a disappointment for the Blue Samurai, and Alberto Zaccheroni is likely to change things up. But he won't need to be too creative, because his squad is up against a team noted for their defense... who didn't defend very well at all in the opener. Japan's defense isn't great, but the anemic Greek offense shouldn't present major issues. Over at SB Nation, Jack Sargeant had himself a busy day; once again, it's his words filling the match preview.
It's going to be hard to top yesterday's thrills, but there's enough potential in today's contests to get excited. Join us here for all the fun, as this is your open thread for Day Eight.