Day 3 of World Cup 2014 was the busiest of the tournament, with four high-quality matches — and the biggest shock so far.
Colombia vs. Greece (Group C)
Though Columbia opened the scoring early with Pablo Armero’s deflected shot, the Greeks were stubborn and determined throughout. Colombia would score again in the 60th minute, but it wasn’t until their third goal, deep in stoppage time, that the game was truly put to bed.
Uruguay vs. Costa Rica (Group D)
Many expected that, even without star striker Luis Suarez, Uruguay would have more than enough talent to deal with lowly Costa Rica, and the early stages of the game gave little reason to doubt that. Edinson Cavani converted from the spot after a foul and Uruguay seemed to be in cruise control.
But Uruguay’s defenders proved to be painfully slow, and were exposed time and time again by Costa Rica’s pace, with Joel Campbell particularly impressive. With England and Italy still ahead, this was supposed to be Uruguay’s “easy” match. Instead, it turned out to be a surprising 3-1 loss. It will be interesting to see how both teams cope with different opposition.
England vs. Italy (Group D)
The day’s marquee match lived up to its billing (though you could forgive audiences for being skeptical after yesterday’s Spanish implosion). The talking point at the start of the match was the absence of Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon due to injury. His understudy, Salvatore Sirigu, was called into action on several occasions and proved more than capable.
Italy opened the scoring in the 35th minute through a wonderfully worked team goal, only to immediately concede to a breakaway. Wayne Rooney’s cross to Daniel Sturridge was perfect, and basically the only thing Rooney did right the entire night. The remainder of the game was a frantic back and forth in the brutal heat, with both sides cramping up toward the end. Mario Balotelli’s headed goal in the 50th minute would prove to be decisive.
Ivory Coast vs. Japan (Group C)
The final match of the day offered another full-throttle spectacle. The Ivorians started sloppily, with a clearly only half-fit Yaya Toure marshalling the midfield. A moment of defensive absentmindedness gave Keisuki Honda the opening he needed to send an absolute rocket into the back of the net.
But in the 60th minute, the Ivory Coast brought on talismanic striker Didier Drogba, who, even at 36, has the power to change a game. The Ivoirians scored in the 64th and 66th minutes as crosses from the excellent Serge Aurier were converted by Wilfed Bony and Gervinho, respectively. The Japanese did their best to get back in the game, but the Ivory Coast held on to take all 3 points.
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