THE DAY REPLAYED – The fourth Matchday of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was in keeping with the three that preceded it, offering up plenty of goals, incredible incidents and major stars making their mark.
There is nothing that football fans love more than a comeback involving a last-gasp goal, and Switzerland conjured up exactly that in Brasilia, defeating Ecuador in stoppage time after having trailed at the break.
In the other Group E encounter, France made the perfect start to their Brazil 2014 campaign by triumphing over a physical and robust Honduras side, courtesy of a clinical performance from Karim Benzema.
Last but not least, Argentina confirmed that they will be a force to be reckoned with at the tournament, seeing off Bosnia and Herzegovina in an exciting and lively encounter, during which Lionel Messi opened his account with a fine individual effort.
Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador (Budweiser Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri)
France 3-0 Honduras (Budweiser Man of the Match: Karim Benzema)
Argentina 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina (Budweiser Man of the Match: Lionel Messi)
Bench bonus: Xherdan Shaqiri may have been named Budweiser Man of the Match, but Switzerland had their substitutes to thank for their hard-fought victory over Ecuador, Admir Mehmedi and Haris Seferovic coming off the bench to score the decisive goals. With his team trailing 1-0 to Enner Valencia’s header, Ottmar Hitzfeld had the foresight to introduce Mehmedi just after half-time, a vote of confidence that the Freiburg striker repaid by equalising two minutes later. Seferovic needed slightly more time to get on the scoreboard, coming on in the 75th minute and pouncing in injury time to clinch a 2-1 win. Intriguingly, all three Swiss heroes – Shaqiri, Mehmedi and Seferovic – have connections to the former Yugoslavia. Shaqiri and Mehmedi were both born there, while Seferovic’s family moved to Switzerland from what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1980s.
Bothersome benchmark: Against Argentina, Sead Kolasinac set a new record that he will not necessarily wish to be reminded of any time soon. With two minutes and nine seconds on the clock, the Bosnian defender proceeded to knock the ball into his own net following a Lionel Messi free kick, becoming the fastest own goal scorer in World Cup history in the process. In doing so, he takes the place of Carlos Gamarra, the previous holder of the unenviable record, who steered a David Beckham free kick past his own goalkeeper in the third minute of England’s clash with Paraguay at Germany 2006. Kolasinac’s ‘strike’ is the third own goal of Brazil 2014, following on from Marcelo in Brazil’s opening match with Croatia and Honduran ’keeper Noel Valladares versus France.
Benzema bosses the show: When France were awarded their first-half penalty against Honduras, Karim Benzema shouldered his responsibilities, as any good No10 should. The Real Madrid striker chose to plant the ball firmly to the right of the goalkeeper, just as Zinedine Zidane once did in his day, scoring France’s tenth World Cup penalty. The similarities with the former Bleus legend do not end there. Benzema doubled his tally in the second half and became the first Frenchman since Zizou to score a brace in a FIFA World Cup match, Zidane’s double strike having helped his country to victory over Brazil in the France 1998 Final. In making his world finals debut, Benzema put the disappointment of his goalless showing at UEFA EURO 2012 well and truly behind him.
5 – Honduras have now gone five consecutive FIFA World Cup matches without scoring a goal, an unwanted run that puts them level with Bolivia and fellow Brazil 2014 finalists Algeria. Four years ago in South Africa, La Bicolor lost two and drew one without finding the back of the net, their very last goal in the competition coming in a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland at Spain 1982. That result was followed by a 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia, the start of their scoreless streak.
Germany-Portugal, 13:00, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Iran-Nigeria, 16:00, Arena de Baixada, Curitiba
Ghana-USA, 19:00, Estadio das Dunas, Natal
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