Wednesday 25 June 2014
People were still talking Dirty Suarez as the next games kicked off.
He’s a genius they said. He’s our genius they said. Biting is nothing compared to elbows and leg breaking tackles they said. Ban him for life they said! He doesn’t need a ban they said. They can’t ban him for club games they said. And the memes just kept on coming….
Nigeria vs Argentina
Onto business and Nigeria kicked off against Argentina with their result dependent on the other game between Bosnia (it’s red-headed stepchild Herzegovina) and Iran. If Iran beat B-H, then. Nigeria needed at least a draw against the South Americans.
In this pulsating game Argentina showed their intent early with the reliable Angel Di Maria involved in the action, and his shot was saved initially by the. Nigerians only for Messi to give the ball an almighty wallop into the roof of the net. Nigeria didn’t roll over and promptly went up the other end and scored a well-taken goal by Ahmed Musa. The action was end to end and it seemed Nigeria would go into the break level when Enyeama brilliantly saved a Messi free kick, but after conceding another free mic even closer to the goal Emyeama could only watch as Messi curled one into the top corner. Again, the Africans refused to roll over and Ahmed Musa strolled was given the freedom of the Argentine defence to make it 2–2. Argentina would score the winner though with a scrappy goal off Marcos Rojo’s knee but they were happy to finish the group undefeated.
Lionel Messi continues to carry this team and he seems to have little support from his fellow players except for Di Maria. Sergio Aguero looks out of form and has had various niggly injuries, and Gonzalo Higuain has tried hard but also doesn’t look entirely comfortable. The Argentine defence continues to look suspect and it will be interesting to see how they fare if they progress.
Nigeria played very well and showed put together some great attacking moves. However, they did seem to lose concentration at times during the match which one cannot afford to do against opponents in the knockout rounds. The whole of Africa celebrated as the Super Eagles became the first African team through to the next round.
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Iran
Iran finally scored a goal in this World Cup, as did Edin Dzeko. The European nation was looking to salvage some pride and leave on a high note as they had already been eliminated with two losses from their two games. The Iranians could squeeze through into the next round if they beat Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was not to be, however, as Edin Dzeko was on a mission to score which he did in the 28th minute to break his World Cup duck. Pjanic added a second with a great strike early in the second half. Iran got a consolation goal in the 82nd minute before Bosnia-Herzegovina ended any token resistance with a third.
France vs Honduras
The French had started the tournament in spectacular goal scoring fashion with eight goals scored and two conceded in their opening two games. They were playing with flair and movement and some people who had written them off pre-tournament started to reassess their positions. Ecuador were level on points with Switzerland and needed to match the Swiss result against Honduras.
Having received all that praise for their free scoring ways, and having made a number of lineup changes, it was Sod’s Law that this game ended 0-0. Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia was shown the red card for a dangerous tackle, but France’s Sakho was also lucky to be on the pitch after elbowing an opponent. The game had no real flow to it as there were a lot of interruptions due to the physical nature of both teams. Ecuador had a couple of chances as well, and question marks will be raised again about whether France have the minerals to go all the way.
Switzerland vs Honduras
This game was all about Xherdan Shaquiri who blasted a hat trick to ensure the Swiss progressed to the next round. The Swiss maestro has not been at his best thus far in the tournament but he turned up for this game with all guns blazing. I think the move to Bayern Munich has not really helped his career progression as he has been limited to a squad player compared to his role as the main man at FC Basel. Hopefully he can maintain his goal scoring form in the next game against Argentina.