Eleven goals were scored in three matches of the Brazil World Cup on Friday, seven of them in the second match between Group E contenders France and Switzerland as the French beat their neighbors 5-2. In the first match, Italy suffered a 0-1 loss against Costa Rica in a match, followed more keenly by the Englishmen, who rued Italy’s loss more than the Italians themselves. The clear implication was England would be flying back home after playing their last game against Costa Rica, whatever be the result. In Friday’s third match Ecuador defeated Honduras 2-1 to come closer to qualifying in the round of 16 now.
Jorge Luis Pinto would have danced like a peacock after his boys outplayed the Italians but he didn’t have the space around him after Costa Rica defeated Italy. Slaves of their own making, Italians will now take on Uruguay in a must-win-or-draw last Group match. Costa Ricans were simply superb in the field and the margin of their 1-0 victory over Italy does not justify their performance on the field. Before the tournament began, Costa Rica were underdogs in the Group, which had Italy and England. But in their fourth appearance in the FIFA World Cup, they outplayed the four-time champions, who largely played unimaginative football.
The teams took to field in the midday sun at Arena Pernambuco, Recife and spent the early part of the match in trading attacks on each other. Italians appeared to be dominant in the first half but lost possession at crucial moments. Regardless, the pace of Italians was a lot slower than the Costa Ricans. Italy got a great scoring opportunity at the half-hour mark, when captain Mario Balotelli was fed a nice through ball by Andrea Pirlo. Balotelli, however, couldn’t control the ball on two occasions. First his shot was defended and again when he got the possession, and as the Costa Rica goalkeeper rushed up, he failed to lob over the keeper’s head. Just before the first half, Costa Ricans demonstrated their superiority, when Oscar Duarte’s dangerous header went inches over the bar and they almost earned a penalty kick but the referee disallowed. It was a clear breach by a barging Giorgio Chiellini on Joel Campbell. In the 44th minute Costa rica went in front, when Junior Diaz sent a lovely floating cross to Bryan Ruiz, who headed in. The ball struck the underside of bar and after crossing the goal line came back into play. Goal Line Technology had to be used before Costa Rica were awarded the goal. After the halftime, Costa Rica took the battle in the Italian half for most of the time and came close to scoring on many occasions. With the sting gone out of their game, Italians just existed and they were lucky that the margin of defeat was restricted to 0-1.
In the second match at Arena Fonte Nova, France played powerful football to defeat Switzerland 5-2. France’s coach Didier Deschamps was ecstatic when the match was completed as his team decisively outplayed Switzerland. The French went ahead 2-0 in less than 20 minutes from the start to show their dominance. The first goal came from a corner, when Giroud smartly headed in. Less than a minute later, Velon Behrami’s careless back pass came to Benzema, who passed it to the charging Matuidi for a powerful strike to put France 2-0 ahead. Switzerland yielded a penalty in the 32nd minute but Benaglio saved Benzema’s shot and the Swiss avoided a possible 0-3 deficit. Five minutes before halftime, Giroud ran down and squared a ball for Valbuena to make it 3-0. Midway through the second half, Benzema made it 4-0 when he scored from a pass by Pogba. Sissoko netted Frances’ fifth goal. Though Switzerland reduced the margin in the last minutes, the French superiority was writ all over the place.
The third match on Friday at Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada between Honduras and Ecuador was played at a phenomenal pace after some drab moments in the beginning. Honduras began with the satisfaction of scoring their first goal in the World Cup finals since 1982 with Carlo Costly slamming home in the 31st minute. The lead only lasted three minutes as Valencia equalized in the 34th minute from a deflected ball from a shot by Juan Carlos Paredes came to him. The striker made no mistake. Valencia who should not to be confused with Ecuador’s captain Antonio Valencia, scored his second goal in the 65th minute. The striker positioned himself, when he saw a free-kick coming his way, he produced a downward header. This confused the goalkeeper as the header went over the goal-line. Ecuador and Honduras played evenly and both sides had scoring chances in the entertaining game, which finally ended 2-1 in Ecuador’s favor.