*Costa Rica 1 Italy 0*
One of the exciting developments of the day was the 1-0 win by Costa Rica over Italy.
Though it’s not particularly surprising that Costa Rica won the match– the two teams weren’t totally unmatched in skill– the New York Times says that the fact that Costa Rica has risen to the top of its difficult first-round group was unexpected.
The Times reported today that the Italians’ downfall was likely a result of passing mistakes and a lack of strategic imagination. Though star Mario Balotelli had two clear chances to score, neither resulted in a goal.
The Costa Rican hero of the game was Bryan Ruiz, who scored the game’s only goal with a powerful header in the 44th minute of play.
El Comercio reports that it’s been 24 years since Costa Rica made it to the second round of the World Cup tournament. While that’s great for Costa Rica (well done!) England fans’ dreams of ending the now nearly “50 years of hurt” are no more. England is going home, after Costa Rica’s win shoved them firmly to the bottom of the group.
*UPDATE:* The surprise of Costa Rica’s success has not gone unnoticed by FIFA, who called in seven Costa Rican players to take tests for illegal substances. This is highly unusual, reports Mexican publication Telediario, as it is customary for only one or two players from a team to take a post-game steroid test– in fact, Italy only had to send two players to take anti-doping tests after the game.
Eduardo Li of the Costa Rican Football Federation told press that “We don’t know if this is within regulations, but we’re going to investigate.” The players were reportedly very surprised to be called to give tests.
The Costa Rican team disseminated a press release explaining that “The decision of [FIFA] to order medical tests on so many players occurred because several of them had not been tested before the tournament.”
*Switzerland 2 France 5*
Both teams had defeated Latin American rivals previous to today’s match. France won over Honduras in a 3-0 game, and Switzerland beat Ecuador 2-1.
The French took an early lead over their Swiss competitors with a goal by Olivier Giroud in the 17th minute of play. Their second goal was scored only a minute later by Blaise Matuidi, and in minute 40, a third goal found its way in with help from Mathieu Valbuena. By minute 67 when Karim Benzema scored the team’s fourth goal, it started to seem a little smug– and in minute 73, Moussa Sissoko scored a fifth goal that seemed positively like gloating.
The Swiss did get one consolation goal in at minute 81, when Blerim Dzemaili scored from 40 yards out, reported the New York Times. Even though a win was by this point impossible, teammate Granit Xhaka scored the team a respectable second goal in minute 87.
Of course, the French side couldn’t let two goals go without retaliation, so Karim Benzema scored again at 90 +4– but it happened just as the referee blew the whistle to end the game, so it was not counted.
*Honduras 1 Ecuador 2*
Neither Ecuador nor Honduras won their opening games in the 2014 World Cup tournament– Ecuador lost to Switzerland 1-2 and Honduras lost to France 0-3.
Honduras started the game out promisingly, with player Carlo Costly scoring the first goal of the match in minute 31. However, the Ecuadorian team caught up straight away with a goal from Enner Valencia in minute 34. A second goal by Valencia put the team over the top, and Honduras never recovered.
Honduras will face off against Switzerland on June 25, and Ecuador will next play France on that same day. Ecuador’s game against France will determine if they advance to the next round or not.
*Saturday’s games are Argentina V Iran (Group D) at 11 a.m., Germany V Ghana (Group G) at 2 p.m. and Nigeria V Bosnia (Group F) at 5 p.m. Sunday’s games are Belgium V Russia (Group H) at 11 a.m., Korea V Algeria (Group H) at 2 p.m., and U.S.A. (Group G) at 5 p.m. (All times in Peruvian standard time). Visit Peru this Week’s Sports blog on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. for the weekend’s updates.*Keep up to date with the World Cup on Peru this Week’s Sports blog Daily updates at 8.pm.