Today’s summary of the group matches at the FIFA World Cup for Thursday, June 26 in Brazil.
Argentina edge it again
Argentina have edged Nigeria 3-2 in a thriller at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. The victory sends the South Americans into the knock-out stages along with Nigeria. “Whatever you can do, I can do better!” was the tone of the match, end-to-end and plenty of goals. Lionel Messi opened the scoring after only three minutes, before Ahmed Musa equalised minutes later. The pair went blow for blow, Messi scored a cracking free-kick on the stroke of half-time bringing his goal tally to four, however Musa again restored parity two minutes into the second half. It was all square for only three minutes, a goal from Argentine defender Marcos Rojo restored Argentina’s lead and turned out to be the winner. The result ended up positive for both sides as they will progress. Argentina topped the group with three narrow wins, while Nigeria go through with the works.
Too little too late for Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina wrapped up their World Cup with an easy 3-1 victory over Iran in Salvador. Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko powered home the opener in the 23rd minute. Following the goal was a string of wasteful opportunities from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The lead was doubled in the second half through Roma winger Miralem Pjanic. The Iranians were given hope through Reza Ghoochannejhad scoring late on, however Avdija Vrsajevic struck moments later to end Iran’s dream of an inaugural round of 16 berth. Bosnia-Herzegovina were impressive, stringing together a host of fluent sweeping plays, however the losses in the first two games cost them in the end. Iran exits the World Cup with only a single point and will be absent in the knock-out stages once more.
France machine drops a gear
France slipped up in their final game drawing 0-0 with Ecuador in Rio de Janeiro. Having scored eight goals in their opening two games the French could not buy a goal against Ecuador. The Ecuadorians frustrated the French rebelling everything that was thrown at them and clinching onto a possible round of 16 place. Les Bleus strikers Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud had golden opportunities late in the second half but put it straight in the basket of Ecuador custodian Alexander Dominguez. The result did not matter for France as they came into the game all but qualified for the next stage, however the loss for Ecuador spells the end of their stint in Brazil, the only South American team to exit the World Cup in the group stages.
Xherdan Shaqiri was the star performer in Switzerland’s 3-0 trouncing of Honduras in Manaus. Swiss’ attacking midfielder Shaqiri scored a hat-trick and guided Switzerland to the Round of 16. His first was a stunner; a curling shot from outside the box nestled in the top corner, the following two were clinical finishes to cap off a quality team build-up. Honduras did not offer much threat to the Swiss goal, however 2-0 down Honduras had a clear penalty waved away. Switzerland move onto the Round of 16 for the fifth time, while Honduras exit at the group stage for the third time.
Round of 16 Fixtures:
France v Nigeria
Argentina v Switzerland – Jake O’Brien
Top photo from SebStanbury’s Flickr photostream.