Colombia win tight match to gain control of Group C
In the opening game of the day, Colombia and Ivory Coast, both of whom won their opening games, met in a top-of-the-group clash that provided both sides with a chance to gain complete control of Group C.
Right from the off, it was an intriguing battle – the South Americans and the Africans battled for possession and control, but neither side was on top for long. It was a true back-and-forth encounter, and neither team could force a breakthrough before the half time whistle sounded.
The deadlock was finally broken when Colombia’s James Rodriguez, usually the provider, uncharacteristically powered in a header from a corner in the 64th minute. Rodriguez, now on two goals at this summer’s World Cup, was again proving integral for his side.
The goal left the game wide open, and only six minutes later substitute Juan Quintero doubled Colombia’s lead, calmly slotting past the Ivorian goalkeeper after his side won possession high up the pitch.
But Ivory Coast refused to quit – just three minutes later, Ivorian winger Gervinho dribbled brilliantly through Colombia’s back line and smashed a shot into the back of the net. It completed an explosive 10 minutes of play that started with a 0-0 deadlock and ended with an enthralling 2-1 lead for Colombia.
Colombia’s quick-fire double was decisive, as the final whistle signaled the end of the match and a 2-1 victory for the South Americans. They now sit top of Group C, guaranteed of progression to the knockout rounds.
Suarez the star as Uruguay claim vital victory
Both England and Uruguay came into this game on the back of a loss, knowing that a poor result for either side could spell elimination from the World Cup.
The match saw Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez return after a lengthy injury, and the feisty No. 9 met familiar faces in Liverpool teammates Gerrard, Sturridge, Henderson, Sterling and Johnson.
The narrative was set in motion when Luis Suarez, who plays his club football either with or against all of England’s squad, headed past Joe Hart to give Uruguay the lead late in half. His country took the slim lead into halftime.
A tense second half eventually led to a breakthrough for England when Wayne Rooney tapped in a cross from fullback Glen Johnson to score his first ever World Cup goal.
But it was Luis Suarez who had the last laugh, as a Gerrard back pass played Suarez through on England’s goal, and the Uruguayan superstar duly obliged, smashing the ball by Joe Hart for the second time in the match. Uruguay 2-1 England, Suarez the hero.
The result means that England need to rely on other results to go their way if they are to have any chance of saving their World Cup, and Uruguay, thanks to the heroics of their all-time top goalscorer, now have some control of their own destiny.
Resilient Greeks frustrate Japan
In the day’s final match, Japan and Greece came head-to-head having both lost their opening matches of Group C. With Ivory Coast losing the earlier game to Colombia, either team could go joint-second in the table with a victory.
But Japan, who approached the game in the attacking, silky style that the world has come to expect from them, met a very resilient Greek side. The Greeks, notorious for their defensive style of play (the same style that somehow won them Euro 2004), simply looked to nullify everything that Japan tried to do.
With Greece already sitting deep, their approach to the game was cemented when defensive midfielder Konstantinos Katsouranis was penalized for his overly-aggressive attempts to win the ball back, and was given his marching orders when he picked up a second yellow card only 38 minutes into the match. With a man down, the Greeks grew even more content to just batten down the hatches.
A goalless first half meant that Japan needed to regroup and throw everything they had at their Greek opposition. The tried and tried, but Greece simply refused to allow them a way through.
Greece soaked up all of the pressure, and Japan, who had more than 70 per cent of the possession, were left frustrated as their attempts to break through were thwarted and the match eventually ended in a goalless draw.
Both teams now have only a slim chance of progression, which makes the approach from Greece all the more bizarre – why play such a negative style of football if it seals your exit from the World Cup? Surely, even with 10 men, the Greeks had more to gain by taking a risk and going for the win?
Pieces falling into place as group stages continue
As the group stages of the 2014 World Cup continue, things are slowly starting to take shape. There have been some memorable matches, and there are certainly more still to come. Things are starting to heat up, as many teams (big and small alike) are all in desperate need of securing points to gain progression to the knock-out rounds.