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2014 World Cup Roundup: Groups C & D
World Cup roundup of groups C & D: Colombia triumphed over Greece, Costa Rica have the last laugh against Uruguay, Italy’s experience pulled them through as Cote D’Ivoire sealed a dramatic comeback over Japan.
Colombia 3-0 Greece
Colombia took on Greece in what was Group C’s first game of the tournament. The South America natives started the game enthusiastically with support from the crowds as Colombian fans found no hardship in moving to neighboring Brazil to support their country. Only 5 minutes into the game, James Rodriguez slyly stepped over Cuadrado’s cross which then found its way to Pablo Armero, who found no trouble in slotting the ball into the back of the net. The Greeks didn’t take long to attempt to level the score as Kone’s effort to equalize went astonishingly wide of the target. Greece arguably came closest to scoring in the first half when Vasilis Torosidis managed to head Jose Holebas’ cross but his effort went barely off target.
The second half started where the first ended with both teams pushing for a goal as Greece looked to equalize while Colombia tried to double their lead. Teófilo Gutiérrez doubled Colombia’s lead at 59 minute mark as he found himself alone in the six-yard box following onto Aguilar’s failed attempt to finish off James Rodriguez’s cross. The Greeks then jumped into hyper-drive which could be best described through Gekas’ powerful header from point blank range that rebounded off the crossbar. However, like Gekas’ header, their attempts were futile. James Rodriguez added insult to injury, scoring from a Colombian counter-attack in the 91st minute.
Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica
The second game started with Uruguay dominating, without injured Luiz Suarez; most of the opening minutes were played in Costa Rica’s half. 15 minutes into the game, Uruguay’s Godin had a goal disallowed. Replays backed the official’s decision; Godin was offside. Nonetheless, the Uruguayans weren’t denied the opener when Cavani scored from spot after Cristian Rodriguez was brought down inside the area. Costa Rica bounced back after the goal and put in a good performance for the remainder of the half, however, failing to score.
The second half began with the Costa Ricans continuing where they left off. Unlike the first half, they managed to score as Arsenal forward Joel Campbell latched onto a cross from the right wing, after Borges barely got a touch on it, and took no time in unleashing a powerful shot past Uruguayan keeper Muselra. Before Uruguay could retaliate, Muselra was once again rendered helpless as he watched Duarte execute a diving header to send the ball across goal and into the net at the far post. Joel Campbell continued to torment the Uruguayan defense, he put a through ball in for substitute Urena who slid the ball past Muselra, ending all hope for a Uruguayan comeback. In a controversial decision, Maxi Pereira was sent off in the 93rd minute for a challenge on Joel Campbell.
England 1-2 Italy
The game started lively; only four minutes had passed before the first dangerous chance came up as Sterling unleashed a shot towards the top-right corner that came extremely close to being the opener. The English continued attacking and didn’t seem to have trouble breaking down the Italian defense, but were quite wasteful in front of goal. The opener went to the Italians as Pirlo stepped over the ball brilliantly, letting it pass to Marchisio who set the ball up for himself before firing into the bottom-left corner. Sturridge set the game on fire as he equalized for England after getting on the receiving end of Rooney’s cross. Balotelli came incredibly close to putting Italy ahead as he tried a lobbed shot into the empty goal. However, the shot was cleared off the line by Jagielka. Only a minute later, Candreva’s right-footed drive hit the post and rebounded clear of goal.
Going against how the first half ended, the second started with England posing considerable threat to the Italian goal. That didn’t last for long as Balotelli considerably decreased the English momentum; Balotelli calmly headed Candreva’s cross past Joe Hart and into the back of the net. England came close to equalizing as Baines found Rooney inside the box with a clever pass. Rooney’s attempt went barely wide of the target. Baines was once again in the spotlight, forcing a great save from Sirigu who left everyone wondering what Italy really lost from Buffon’s injury. It was the Italians who came close, though; Pirlo took a free kick several yards outside the penalty area and unleashed a deceiving shot that struck against the crossbar before going outside for a goal kick.
Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan
Following the trend in games of the current World Cup, the first chance of the night came but minutes away from kick off. Wilfred Bony was played in by Gervinho but his shot was deflected slightly, narrowly missing the target. Just when the game looked like it was going to slow down, Honda unleashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net from inside the box.
20 minutes into the second half, Wilfred Bony pulled one back for the Ivorians after heading the ball from Aurier’s cross near the far post. Aurier was again in the spot light as he sent a cross in to Gervinho, who powered a header at the near post past helpless Japanese keeper Kawashima to seal Africa’s first three points.