After yesterday’s jittery, contentious match between Brazil and Croatia, what World Cup 2014 needed was a bit more excitement. Friday’s slate of games certainly delivered, but not without a touch more controversy.
The day opened with a fiery, end-to-end match between Mexico and Cameroon, played in a torrential downpour. At first it seemed that another match would be dominated by questionable refereeing decisions when two separate Giovanna Dos Santos goals were disallowed for highly debatable offside calls. Mexico eventually scored when Oribe Peralata got on the end of a parried Dos Santos shot. Cameroon put up a good fight, but the right team came out on top.
The true match of the day though was a replay of the previous Cup’s final. Spain played Holland in a game many expected the reigning cup-holders to dominate. And though it was the Spanish that broke the deadlock, it was through another controversial decision as Diego Costa went down in the box under minimal contact. Xabi Alonso confidently converted the penalty, but that would basically be the end of the Spanish offense.
The Dutch leveled the score when team captain Robin Van Persie converted an audacious header. Seriously, watch this header:
It truly deserves to be a meme.
From there, Holland never let up, with two shimmying goals by Arjen Robben and another by the RVP. A spectacular corner from Wesley Sneijder bounced in off the foot of Stefan De Vrij (a measure of justice for “conceding” the penalty).
In the final game, Chile took an early two-goal lead over the scattered Australians before a trademark header from Tim Cahill gave the Aussies a lifeline in the 35th minute. From there the game teetered on a knife-edge before Jean Beausejour sealed the match for Chile in the 92nd minute. The Australians are still unlikely to fare well in this group, but they certainly showed that they didn’t come to the tournament to be pushed around
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