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2014 World Cup Roundup: Groups A & B
Brazil 0-0 Mexico
The World Cup hosts were unable to beat a very energetic Mexico side who were saved largely due to the heroics of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. The Mexican keeper managed to save everything that Brazil fired at him, while Ochoa’s counterpart Julio Cesar was mainly kept quiet with Mexico not offering much in attack.
Cameroon were thumped by Croatia after a great start to the game that saw both sides playing good football and creating chances. Olic gave Croatia the lead in the 11th minute when he taped in a low cross into the bottom left corner. The complexity of the game totally changed in the 39th minute when Alex Song was sent off for an elbow on Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic.
Three minutes after the restart Ivan Perisic found the back of the net after a powerful run down the left flank. Mandzukic then scored two goals to add injury to insult for a despairing Cameroonian side. There was even a bust up between two Cameroon players just before the final whistle that saw Tottenham Hotspur left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto headbutt Benjamin Moukandjo.
Australia 2-3 Netherlands
Prior to the match it was widely predicted that the Netherlands, who in the first game of the tournament destroyed World champions Spain 5-1, would walk over the Australian side, however, this was far from the case.
The Netherlands took the lead in the 20th minute when Robben burst down the middle and fired home. It took less than a minute for Australia to equalise with Cahill scoring a contender for goal of the tournament. A long ball from the right hand side was beautifully volleyed across goal by Tim Cahill from the edge of the box. Surprisingly, Australia took the lead in the 54th minute when Janmaat was penalised for handball inside the box. Mile Jedinak slotted home the penalty into the bottom left corner.
Four minutes later Manchester United striker Robin van Persie equalised after meeting substitute Memphis Depay’s neatly threaded ball into the box and smashing the ball into the upper netting of the goal from 8 yards. Ten minutes later, it was Depay who won the game for his side scoring his first goal for the Oranje which automatically qualified them for the round of 16.
Spain 0-2 Chile
Spain became the fifth team to not make it out of the group stages after winning the previous edition of the World Cup. A lack-luster Spain side were thoroughly beaten by an impressive Chile side who started the game brightly. Ironically Chile’s first goal came in the exact tiki-taka manor that made the Spanish side so successful of the past couple of years. Alexis Sanchez intercepted Xabi Alonso’s intended pass to Sergio Ramos and the Barcelona winger played a neat one-two with Juventus midfielder Vidal before threading a perfect pass into the box for Aránguiz, who back-healed the ball across the box for it to be collected and cooly finished by Vargas. Spain didn’t offer much in attack with Deigo Costa failing to reproduce his fine form for Atletico Madrid last season on the international stage.
Two minutes before the half-time break Chile doubled their lead thanks to a goalkeeping howler. Iker Casillas miss-punched an Alexis Sanchez free-kick straight into Charles Aranguiz, who managed to toe punt the ball into the top right hand corner.
Spain came out of the second half with some urgency but it didn’t last long. Their best chance came when Costa attempted an overhead kick that was met by Busquets four yards from goal but the ball didn’t fall nicely for him and he fired wide. The game ended in the same fashion as it started with Chile chasing every ball and making it difficult for Spain to play, with La Roja having numerous chances to increase their lead.