RED (yellow 2): Katsouranis 38'
For over an hour, Colombia and Ivory Coast battled without making a breakthrough, but then Juan Cuadrado lofted a corner into the box and James Rodriguez won the aerial batter, heading into net to stake Colombia to the lead. Just six minutes later, Serey Die lost possession at midfield, spurring a Colombian counterattack. Teófilo Gutiérrez led Juan Quintero, who punched a shot just under the outstretched hand of Boubacar Barry. Ivory Coast got that one back just three minutes later, Gervinho weaved down the left side, through and around three defenders, before slicing his shot into the upper near corner. Both teams went attack-happy for the final 20 minutes (including stoppage), but were unable to change the scoreline. Colombia has secured passage to the knockout rounds thanks to the draw between Japan and Greece, and will finish top of the group barring a horrific result next week. As for Ivory Coast, a win next week sees them through, as does a draw so long as Colombia beats or draws Japan. Even a Japan win could see Ivory Coast through with a draw so long as Japan only beats Colombia by one goal and doesn't outscore Ivory Coast by more than two, as the two teams would be level on points and goal differential, handing the tiebreaker to goals scored and then head-to-head.
Wayne Rooney finally scored a goal in a World Cup, but it wasn't enough as Luis Suárez confirmed his position as England's greatest villain. England had the better of it through most of the first half-hour, missing several chances at goal -- including a haunting miss by Rooney, who headed a point-blank strike into the crossbar at 31' -- while Uruguay looked terribly disjointed. Indeed, Diego Godín probably should have been sent off; he picked up an early yellow, and should have received a second at 28' after rocking Daniel Sturridge with an elbow. But it went unnoticed, and in the end it was Suárez who opened the scoring. From just outside the box Edinson Cavani lobbed a pass right into the keeper's zone which barely cleared Phil Jagielka. Suárez leapt and headed just over Joe Hart's hand to give Uruguay the lead.
Rooney almost scored again at 54, burying a strike but right at a quick-reacting Fernando Muslera; 20 minutes later the star-crossed English striker finally hit paydirt. Jordan Henderson lost possession to Álvaro Pereira, but he was quickly dispossessed by Daniel Sturridge, who fed to Glen Johnson. Johnson weaved through the defense and then launched a beautiful pass into the box right to Rooney, who couldn't possibly have missed the equalizing tap-in. But ten minutes later, Muslera booted a goal kick which Cavani deftly headed on to a racing Suárez, who got behind the defense and fired a shot which Joe Hart all but seemed to duck away from for fear of decapitation. England valiantly tried to get a second equalizer, but it wasn't to be.
England is now all but buried. They will have to hope Italy beats Costa Rica today to even have a chance, and they really need the Italians to run up the score for that to even be of help. We'll be able to break down England's chances more accurately tonight. As for Uruguay, their nightmare opener has suddenly turned to hope. If Costa Rica wins or draws today, Uruguay merely needs to beat Italy next week to go through. ("'Merely,' he said," but the reality is that having control of your own destiny is better than any other option.) Even an Italian win today doesn't doom Uruguay, though things become considerably more difficult.
Greece mounted almost no threat to Japan throughout, and when Greek captain Kostas Katsouranis got sent off on his second yellow at the 38 minute park, it looked like Japan had it in the bag. But despite numerous agonizing chances, the Blue Samurai simply could not convert as the Greeks held on for a 0-0 draw. It's a horrible result for Japan, who missed at least two wide-open nets. Both teams are still alive, barely; should Greece win over Ivory Coast next week one of the two will go through, depending on the Greece-Colombia result. But that's asking a lot.
Group C standings after two games: Colombia 6 (+4), Ivory Coast 3 (0), Japan 1 (-1), Greece 1 (-3)
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||GROUP||TEAMS / SITE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Italy vs Costa Rica
Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Costa Rica 6:1
Switzerland vs France
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Honduras vs Ecuador
Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Game 24: Italy-Costa Rica
Some likely changes for the Azzurri. Gianluigi Buffon is mended and ready to take his customary place between the posts. There should be some shifting in the back line; expect Gabriel Paletta to sit, with Giorgio Chiellini moving back inside while Ignazio Abate takes over on the flank. Costa Rica, on the other hand, appears set to dance with what got them here. Italy can't sleep on this one because Los Ticos are quite obviously dangerous. But they should manage. Jack Sargeant has SB Nation's match preview.
Game 25: Switzerland-France
Expect little change from either lineup, though Switzerland could opt for Haris Seferovic -- who came on as a sub and scored the stoppage-time winner for the Swiss against Ecuador -- in lieu of Josip Drmic up front. The winner is in control of the group; odds say it will be France, but Switzerland is perfectly capable of stealing this one. SB Nation's in-depth preview comes courtesy of Callum Hamilton.
Game 26: Honduras-Ecuador
One got blown out last weekend, the other lost a crushing heartbreaker. But today, that's all history; now, it's just two teams fighting for their lives. Honduras will be missing Wilson Palacios, double-booked last week and suspended for today's match. Jorge Claros probably replaces Palacios in the midfield. Ecuador, meanwhile, will probably stick with the squad that was truly unfortunate not to escape with a point against Switzerland last weekend. Unless Honduras, who went all-in on defense last weekend and failed, drastically changes their game plan, this one won't be in doubt either. That tireless warrior Jack Sargeant is on the case again with SB Nation's full preview.
We can't guarantee that we won't see some ugly soccer today, but we should have three close ones on tap. Join us for all the fun here, in your Friday Futbol open thread.