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2014 World Cup Roundup: Groups E & F
KingFut.com’s Omar Morsy recaps all the action from Groups E & F of the 2014 World Cup.
Switzerland 2-5 France:
In the third game in Group E, favorites France put their Swiss opponents to the sword in a ruthless counter-attacking display. It only took Les Blues 17 minutes to score the opener: a header from Arsenal striker Giroud, who was around the 6-yard box when he rose to power the ball past Diego Benaglio. Just 66 seconds later, Matuidi raced down the left and slipped the ball past Benaglio for his side’s second, as Switzerland looked completely lost. Things went from bad to worse in the 32nd minute when Benzema was tripped by defender Djourou, but the Real Madrid forward shot at Benaglio as the score remained 2-0. The penalty save was far from being a turning point; the inevitable was only delayed as Giroud laid the ball off to teammate Valbuena, and the Marseille midfielder finished easily shortly before halftime. Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s halftime team talk looked to have lifted his team’s performance, and the shift in momentum was apparent when Swiss striker Admir Mehmedi missed a big opportunity to reduce the lead 25 minutes from time, but his miss seemed to take with it any spirit Switzerland had managed to muster; Benzema and Sissoko scored in quick succession to remove any doubts about the eventual outcome of the match. Dzemaili and Xhaxa scored meaningless consolation goals for their team in the last ten minutes but the Swiss will be favorites to progress as runners-up, seeing as the goal-hungry French face Ecuador in the final game.
Honduras 1-2 Ecuador:
Enner Valencia’s brace gave Ecuador the three points against a Honduras side that will be disappointed after letting a 1-0 lead slip, and the Central Americans’ chances of qualifying took a significant hit as a result. Honduras striker Carlos Costly opened the scoring in the 30th minute after he pounced on some poor defending, but Ecuador wasted no time in replying; Enner Valencia prodded home a rebound just 3 minutes later as he made up for an earlier miss. Honduras had a goal disallowed on the stroke of halftime, as Jerry Bengston was adjudged to have handled the ball in the buildup. Ecuador would capitalize on that escape in the second half as Valencia scored again in the 65th minute to seal the points . Honduras have now lost their first two group games, but a win over Switzerland coupled with a France victory over Ecuador might still send them though.
Lionel Messi’s 93rd minute goal clinched Argentina the three points and qualification to the round of sixteen against a spirited Iran side that many felt deserved at least a point from the game. The Asians spent the entirety of the first half camped around their penalty area, repelling attack after attack, but Iran coach Carlos Quieroz shifted his tactics after the break; Argentina started to suffer as a result of quick Iranian counterattacks, and the underdogs went close to opening the scoring on several occasions. The most dangerous opportunity was a one-on-one with Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero, but Reza Ghoochannejad’s shot was saved impressively by the oft-maligned Romero. Several games in this edition of the World Cup have seen teams punished for missing chances, and this one was no different, as Messi curled an impressive shot from just outside the area and into the net past a despairing Alireza Haghighi to win it for his team deep into stoppage time.
The Super Eagles achieved their first World Cup victory in 16 years when they beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá on Saturday night, as they climbed into second place behind Group F leaders Aregentina. Stoke City’s Peter Odemwingie’s scored the only goal of the game in the 29th minute, when he shot through club teammate Asmir Begovic’s legs after Nigerian attacker Emmenike ran more than 40 yards, out-muscled a Bosnia defender and crossed low into the box. Earlier, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko had been denied a legitimate goal for a non-existent offside, and the nation participating in its first ever World Cup will surely feel aggrieved by the decision. Nevertheless, Nigeria heeded the warning well and Odenwingie’s strike moves them onto 4 points, 3 ahead of third-placed Iran, while their opponents have been eliminated from the World Cup.