Yobo 90'+ (og)
What sorcery is this? A team won a round of 16 game by two goals? Is that allowed?
Don't get ahead of yourselves, though. For 80 minutes Nigeria was every bit the equal of Les Blues, and at times appeared to be superior. For the first hour-plus, Nigeria engaged in several very pretty runs, showing a great deal of creativity and even panache. One beautiful Nigerian goal off the foot of Emmanuel Emenike was (correctly) ruled offside. But in the final twenty, after Antoine Griezmann came on for Olivier Giroud and spent a few minutes getting his bearings, France went into overdrive. The thrills started when a French attack was stymied by an amazing pair of plays. Karim Benzema fired from point-blank range, and Vincent Enyeama made a lunging save. The ball ricocheted out, back off of Benzema and toward the goal, and Victor Moses cleared the ball right off the goal line. Over the next eight minutes, Enyeama made a few more great saves, but the last one led to the fateful corner kick. Mathieu Valbuena took the corner, Paul Pogba headed it in, and Les Blues finally had the lead. A couple of minutes later, Enyeama made another fantastic save, but halfway through stoppage time France sealed the deal when Valbuena took a cross from near the corner flag which bounced off captain Joseph Yobo and into the net. Obviously, losing by giving up a pair of goals in the final fifteen minutes is a painful way to go out. But Nigeria had been fully up to the task for the vast majority of the game.
In the first half, Germany was desultory; Algeria was not, but couldn't generate chances. Just before the half, Mario Götze almost put Die Mannschaft in front after Raïs M'Bolhi failed to collect a save properly, but M'Bolhi was there to recover. Shkodran Mustafi had a great chance early in the second half off a corner from Toni Kroos, but M'Bolhi was again on hand to save the header. Right after that, Manuel Neuer absolutely botched a save, very nearly allowing the Foxes to score; just a minute later, Algeria had a five-on-two break but Philipp Lahm's defense prevented disaster for the Germans. On the other end, Lahm fired a blast from 22 which M'Bolhi barely got his fingertips on to deflect to safety. Just before the 80th minute, right when the bell had tolled for the Nigerians, the Germans went into overdrive, and M'Bolhi remained up to the task. First, a run by Thomas Müller resulted in a cross which Bastian Scheinsteger tried to head in, but it went wide. Then Müller took a pass from Semi Khedira and headed; M'Bolhi saved, and then saved again when the rebound resulted in a lightning bolt off Andre Schürrle's foot. And then Müller again fired, this time wide. Finally the whistle, and extra time.
Ninety seconds later, Germany had the lead.
Algeria were on the attack, but were dispossessed, setting off a German run. Müller crossed, Schürrle finished, and M'Bolhi was helpless. In the final minute, Germany caught a 3-on-2 break, and drew M'Bolhi out of the box to save; a rebound was cleared by Essaid Belkalem, but Mesut Özil drilled it home before M'Bolhi could get back. To add to Algeria's pain, in stoppage time Abdelmoumene Djibou got Algeria on the board, and with just seconds left Islam Slimani had a chance to head in an equalizer... but it wasn't strong enough, and Manuel Neuer gathered it in. A valiant effort by both African sides yesterday, but all for naught.
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Argentina vs Switzerland
Arena de São Paulo
United States vs Belgium
Arena Fonte Nova
Game 55: Argentina-Switzerland
It's the seventh meeting between the two nations; the Argentinians have never lost, taking four wins and a pair of draws. They've met in the World Cup once, a 2-0 Argentine win in 1966. Argentina will be without forward Sergio Agüero, out for the remainder of the tournament with a torn muscle in his leg. Ezequiel Lavezzi will fill in up front. Steve von Bergen remains sidelined for the Swiss after suffering what is technically a skull fracture (though it's a facial injury). It'll instead be either Philippe Senderos or Fabian Schär in the back line. While Switzerland looked like world-beaters against their lesser group competition, they were decidedly less impressive against the French. Argentina should handle this task unless their offense is even more disjointed than it was in the group stage. Jack Sargeant provides SB Nation's match preview.
Game 56: USA-Belgium
The Belgians have beaten the USA in all four friendlies the two squads have contested. The lone competitive match between the two, however, was in the 1930 World Cup, won 3-0 by the Americans in Montevideo. There's plenty of good news for the Stars and Stripes today. Jozy Altidore is back, although he may not start, and the remainder of the US lineup is good to go. Belgium, on the other hand, is facing issues. Steven Defour is out after being sent off in Belgium's game with South Korea, Thomas Vermaelen is sidelined with a hammy. Backup Anthony Vanden Borre is gone for the duration, having broken his ankle last week. Most importantly, captain Vincent Kompany is a game-time decision. And there are questions around healthy members of the lineup as well, making a prediction of the starting eleven problematic. Suffice it to say that if Kompany's out, the Americans have a huge advantage here. I am less pessimistic about the American chances than Jack Sargeant, who as usual is here with SB Nation's match preview.
It's almost here. Just six more hours and Team USA kicks off. Be sure to join us here to discuss and react... especially if you're, um, "otherwise occupied" and can't watch the game. Ahem.