4 goals in 7 as Brazil crash out

Germany have put 7 goals past a lacklustre Brazil to progress through to the final of the World Cup in Belo Horizonte, at one stage scoring 4 times in 7 minutes, all of the goals highlighting Brazil’s struggles with marking. Germany had a goal on the board in the 11th, with Toni Kroos’ corner sailing straight to Thomas Muller, who had slipped away from his man and volleyed past a helpless Julio Cesar. If the stadium was quiet after that goal, it became even more so when Muller left Kroos’ pass alone for Miroslav Klose, who rubbed salt into Brazil’s wounds not only by making the score 2-0 but also by overtaking former Brazilian star Ronaldo as the all-time leading scorer at the World Cup Finals. A minute later Kroos hit a perfect strike one-time to put Germany 3 goals up. The mood in the stadium turned into one of full-on shock a couple of minutes later when Kroos stripped the ball off Fernandinho just outside the box, played a one-two with Sami Khedira and crashed the ball past an already committed Cesar and a helpless Dante to turn the score to 4-0. Khedira and Mesut Ozil combined perfectly to help Germany to a 5-goal advantage, which they held to the break.

Brazil spent most of the second half in damage control, but they seemed to be at least holding up a bit better, although much of this was due to some lucky interceptions by lone defenders which prevented Germany from getting the ball to unmanned players in the forward half. Brazil, however, were getting the better chances, but Manuel Neuer denied them time and again with saves that many other keepers would never be able to complete. Then the Germans struck again. Khedira passed the ball to Philipp Lahm from the right wing, and Andre Schurrle put the subsequent pass into the back of the net from close range. Germany 6, Brazil 0. Schurrle graced the scoreboard again 11 minutes later with a brilliant effort, controlling an uppish ball with his first touch at high speed and putting the ball off the bar and in with his second, all done while sprinting away from David Luiz, whose first outing as Brazilian captain was quickly turning into an unmitigated disaster. Oscar weaved the ball around Jerome Boateng and Neuer to pull one back for Brazil in the 90th, but it was little consolation to Brazil as they prepare for a third-place match that could lead to redemption or humiliation, while Germany enter the final on a high and as strong favourites.

Estadio Minierao – Belo Horizonte
Brazil 1 (Oscar 90)
Germany 7 (Muller 11, Klose 23, Kroos 24, 26, Khedira 29, Schurrle 69, 79)
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mex)

Brazil: Julio Cesar – Marcelo, Dante, David Luiz, Maicon, Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho (Paulinho 46), Bernard, Oscar, Hulk (Ramires 46), Fred (Willian 69).

Germany: Neuer – Howedes, Hummels (Mertesacker 46), Boateng, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira (Draxler 76), Ozil, Kroos, Muller, Klose (Schurrle 58).

Italy deny England in thriller

The Italians have beaten England 2-1 in a thrilling match between the heavyweights in Manaus. The match started slowly, with the Italians content to control possession, passing exceptionally. England looked the more threatening side at the start, testing stand-in keeper Salvatore Sirigu from long range early. Raheem Sterling was a major issue for the Italians, constantly threatening the goal with his speed and skills. All the same, the Italians had a lot of control, with Andrea Pirlo effortless in the middle. Italy were able to score first in the 35th minute through Claudio Marchisio. A short corner was taken by Antonio Candreva, and a pass was played in to Pirlo. Pirlo, heavily marked, let the ball pass through his legs to Marchisio, who fired past Joe Hart into the back of the net unmarked from long range. It didn’t take long for the English to level, however, with Wayne Rooney being sent through on the left before whipping in a cross which found Daniel Sturridge at the back post. The English striker tapped the ball in easily to level the score. Italy had some good chances near the end of the half, Mario Balotelli’s chip having to be headed away by Phil Jagielka. Candreva hit the post a minute later, but the sides went into the sheds tied at one-all.

England had a major chance in the 49th minute, but Sturridge was denied by Sirigu. Italy, however, struck on a counter attack, with Pirlo finding Matteo Darmian on the right. Darmian proceeded to find Candreva, who turned Leighton Baines inside out and whipped the ball into the box, where Balotelli hammered it into the back of the net with his head. England proceeded to go on the attack, with Rooney missing some critical chances, including a clear cut chance inside the box. Sirigu made a critical save to deny Ross Barkley, one of many made by the Paris Saint-Germain keeper on the night. England continued to have possession inside their half, but the Italian centre-backs Gabriel Palletta and Andrea Barzagli would not let them through. Glen Johnson’s long range shot was missed. England kept pushing. Sirigu dived brilliantly to stop a Baines free kick. England kept pushing. Both Steven Gerrard and Rooney put the ball over the bar as Italy kept holding on. Eventually the Italians started to counter, and Ciro Immobile proved dangerous. Pirlo hit the bar with a free kick, and Immobile had to be stopped by Gary Cahill after a counter-attack. England were left with no time left, and the Italians had held on to start off their campaign ideally.

Manaus – Arena Amazonia
England 1 (Sturridge 37)
Italy 2 (Marchisio 35, Balotelli 50)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Ned)

England: Hart – Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Johnson, Henderson (Wilshere 73), Gerrard, Rooney, Sterling, Welbeck (Barkley 61), Sturridge (Lallana 80).

Italy: Sirigu – Chiellini, Barzagli, Palletta, Darmian, Verratti (Motta 57), de Rossi, Marchisio, Pirlo, Candreva (Parolo 79), Balotelli (Immobile 73).

Joel Campbell has pulled off a brilliant performance to lead Costa Rica to a shock win over Uruguay in Fortaleza. Campbell scored once and set up another as Costa Rica came from behind to take a 3-1 victory over the 2010 semi-finalists. The game started slowly, neither side getting any real opportunities, but Uruguay began to trouble Los Ticos with their set pieces. Diego Godin had a goal disallowed, and Edinson Cavani had a brilliant chance to put his side in front a minute later, both chances originating from free kicks. It didn’t take much longer for Uruguay to claim a lead, with a penalty awarded after Junior Diaz pulled down Diego Lugano in the box. Cavani successfully beat Keylor Navas to score, and Uruguay had the lead. Costa Rica kept attacking, Campbell missing by inches with a long-range strike and generally being a nuisance to the South Americans. Uruguay had the chance to double their lead just before the break, when Navas made a remarkable save to push Diego Forlan’s strike, which had taken a deflection off Oscar Duarte, over the bar.

Costa Rica started the second half well, Duarte forcing a save from Fernando Muslera with a nice header. Four minutes later Campbell had scored the equaliser, with a Cristian Gamboa cross evading Celso Borges but finding an unmanned Campbell in the area. Campbell then proceeded to fire past a helpless Muslera, who could only watch the ball pass him as it flew into the back of the net. The Costa Ricans took only 3 more minutes to draw ahead through Duarte, who beat Christian Stuani to a Christian Bolanos free kick and headed past Muslera. Cavani was able to catch Navas out of his goal, but Diaz headed it away. Uruguay kept possession but were unable to threaten, not looking close to scoring, before substitute Marcos Urena sealed the deal for Costa Rica. Campbell threaded in a perfect through ball, and the sub was quickest to get there. Muslera, who had attempted to beat Urena, was out of position, and Urena rolled it into the back of the net to send the Costa Ricans 2 goals up with 6 minutes of regular time left. To add insult to injury, Maxi Pereira was sent off in stoppage time to not only leave Uruguay beaten but also without their best right-back for the match against England, after one of the biggest upsets at this year’s World Cup.

Fortaleza – Estadio Castelao
Uruguay 1 (Cavani 24 pen)
Costa Rica 3 (Campbell 54, Duarte 57, Urena 84)
Referee: Felix Brych (Ger)

Uruguay: Muslera – Caceres, Godin, Lugano, M Pereira, Rodriguez (Hernandez 76), Gargano (Gonzalez 60), Arevalo, Stuani, Cavani, Forlan (Lodeiro 60).
Expulsions: M Pereira 90+5.

Costa Rica: Navas – Diaz, Umana, Gonzalez, Duarte, Gamboa, Bolanos (Barrantes 88), Tejeda (Cubero 75), Borges, Ruiz (Urena 83), Campbell.

Chile outlast determined Socceroos

Chile have defeated the Australians 3-1 in Cuiaba, despite a dogged effort from the young Australian team. The game threatened to turn into a rout after Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia put Chile up after 14 minutes, with the Socceroos looking out of their depth. Sanchez kicked off the scoring after some very nice work, with the Chilean beating a few defenders before losing the ball. Australian keeper Mathew Ryan attacked the ball but was beaten by Charles Aranguiz, whose cross found Eduardo Vargas. The resultant header from Vargas fell to Sanchez in space, where he was able to shoot past Ryan. Valdivia scored moments later, finding the space to launch the ball into the top corner past the desperate attempt of Ryan. Australia started to gain some composure, and looked threatening as they started to take some control away from the Chileans. Soon enough, Tim Cahill had a goal back, out-jumping Gary Medel and Gonzalo Jara to head Ivan Franjic’s cross into the back of the net. Australia kept attacking, and threatened to score another, but the sides went in at half time with the score at 2-1.

Cahill missed a couple of opportunities at the start of the second half to level the scores, having a goal disallowed for offside. Marco Bresciano fired at the bottom corner and was only just denied by Claudio Bravo, who was having more to do than Ryan at the other end. Chile had a great opportunity 5 minutes later, Eduardo Vargas just denied on the line by Alex Wilkinson after putting the ball past Ryan. Australia continued pressing, however, with Matthew Leckie, having the game of his life down the right, just placing his header over the bar. Chile seemed unable to string together more than a couple of passes at a time. Leckie’s half-field run was denied desperately by a slide tackle, but Chile seemed to be holding together well enough to deny Australia. The game ticked over into injury time, and the Chileans struck. A nice passing move culminated in Mauricio Pinilla having a shot on goal blocked by Ryan. The shot fell to Jean Beausejour, whose long range strike beat Ryan to put the game beyond doubt.

Cuiaba – Arena Pantanal
Chile 3 (Sanchez 12, Valdivia 14, Beausejour 90+2)
Australia 1 (Cahill 35)
Referee: Noumandiaz Doue (CIV)

Chile: Bravo – Mena, Jara, Medel, Isla, Vidal (Gutierrez 60), Diaz, Aranguiz, Vargas (Pinilla 88), Valdivia (Beausejour 68), Sanchez.

Australia: Ryan – Davidson, Spiranovic, Wilkinson, Franjic (McGowan 48), Milligan, Jedinak, Bresciano (Troisi 78), Oar (Halloran 69), Cahill, Leckie.

Champions decimated as Oranje soar

The Dutch have shocked the Spanish in Salvador, smashing them 5-1 in a second half rout. The first half began as one may have expected, the Spaniards able to control possession and pass incredibly well. David Silva and Andres Iniesta were giving the Dutch lots of trouble with some great balls played in for Diego Costa, but some great Dutch defence held them out to start. In the 26th minute, though, the match turned in the Spaniards favour, Costa being fouled in the area by Stefan de Vrij. Xabi Alonso put the resulting penalty past Jasper Cillesen, and it appeared business as usual for the reigning champions. This was not the case. The Dutch responded to the Spanish goal by starting to win back some control over the game, although their chances did not have the edge required to pass Iker Casillas. Cillesen seemed to have the most work of the two keepers, needing to save a chip shot in a one-on-one situation to deny Silva, although just a minute later the game changed remarkably. Daley Blind took the ball and launched a cross from just past halfway, finding the run of Robin van Persie, whose resultant diving header passed Casillas easily and sent the Dutch level just before the break.

Iniesta had an early chance for the Spanish after the break, forcing a diving save from Cillesen. Three minutes later the Dutch took the lead through Arjen Robben, who had been a constant threat in the first half. Robben was able to work his way around Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique and fire past Casillas after receiving the ball inside the box. The Dutch went agonisingly close to a third 7 minutes later, van Persie hitting the bar after some excellent lead-up work from Robben and Daryl Janmaat. It didn’t matter, however, as de Vrij nodded home a free kick to score his first ever international goal and to put the Oranje up 3-1. Things just kept getting worse for the champions, with Silva having a goal disallowed for offside after he bundled in the rebound of Pedro’s header. 4 minutes after that Robin van Persie made a successful challenge on Casillas inside the area, leaving him with no keeper to beat and a certain second goal. Playing for pride, the Spaniards did not have the power to deny the brilliant Robben a second. Robben left Casillas, who had committed early, floundering on the ground while he passed two desperate defenders trying to fill in for their keeper. The Dutch pushed very hard for a sixth goal, Georginio Wijnaldum and Robben forcing remarkable saves from the Spanish captain, who added some respectability to his performance with the great blocks. Spain’s night ended with another missed opportunity, Fernando Torres brilliantly prevented from scoring into an open goal by a desperate Dutch defender, leaving Spain with their tails between their legs after being completely routed by a brilliant Dutch team.

Salvador – Arena Fonte Nova
Spain 1 (Alonso 27 pen)
Netherlands 5 (van Persie 44, 72, Robben 53, 80, de Vrij 64)
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Ita)

Spain: Casillas – Alba, Ramos, Pique, Azpilicueta, Alonso (Pedro 62), Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Costa (Torres 62), Silva (Fabregas 78).

Netherlands: Cillesen – Martins Indi, de Vrij (Veltman 77), Vlaar, Blind, de Jong, de Guzman (Wijnaldum 62), Janmaat, Robben, Sneijder, van Persie (Lens 79).

Cameroon fall to dominant Mexico

Mexico have beaten Cameroon 1-0 in Natal to ensure a perfect start to their World Cup campaign. The Mexicans won through a 61st minute goal to Oribe Peralta, after controlling possession and territory for most of the game. Mexico started very well, with fullbacks Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar pressing the Indomitable Lions with some great runs down the wing. Mexico were able to find the net in the 11th through Giovani dos Santos, although the goal was disallowed due to offside. Cameroon began to get back into the game, having a goal of their own, to Samuel Eto’o, disallowed in much the same manner. Mexico continued to press with some excellent passing, with Rafael Marquez just missing a header. A few minutes later the offside rule was again brought into the spotlight, with Giovani being controversially denied again. Replays showed the Mexican was onside for the corner, but offside when the ball deflected off a defender and allowed him to head the ball in. The half finished without much more event, although the Mexicans were not particularly pleased with the offside calls.

Cameroon keeper Charles Itandje was called into action early in the second half, forced off his line to block the run of Peralta, who, along with Giovani, was proving a thorn in Cameroon’s side. Cameroon had a chance about ten minutes after, with Jose Juan Vazquez deflecting a Benoit Assou-Ekoto free kick just wide of the post. Two minutes later, however, the goal had been scored. Hector Herrera made a nice run and opened up Giovani, whose shot was blocked very well by Itandje. The rebound, however, fell straight to Peralta, catching Itandje in an impossible position and allowing Peralta to roll the ball into an open net. Cameroon tried to press, although Mexico continued pressing, with Javier Hernandez injecting energy into the game as a substitute. Inefficiency up front cost Cameroon, and Mexico were the ones creating chances, Dany Nounkeu needing to slide to get to a Hernandez cross before Marco Fabian. Cameroon had one final chance in the first minute of injury time, but Benjamin Moukandjo’s header was brilliantly stopped by a diving Guillermo Ochoa as Mexico claimed a solid win.

Natal – Arena Das Dunas
Mexico 1 (Peralta 61)
Cameroon 0
Referee: Wilmar Rondan (Col)

Mexico: Ochoa – Layun, Moreno, Marquez, Rodriguez, Aguilar, Vazquez, Guardado (Fabian 69), Peralta (Hernandez 73), Giovani, Herrera (Salcido 90+2).

Cameroon: Itandje – Assou-Ekoto, Chedjou, N’Koulou, Djeugoue (Nounkeu 46), Enoh, Song (Webo 79), M’Bia, Choupo-Moting, Eto’o, Moukandjo.

Neymar stars as Brazil shine

Brazil have gained the perfect start to their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign in Sao Paulo, defeating Croatia 3-1 thanks to 2 goals from Neymar, including a 71st minute penalty. The Brazilians started with most of the possession and territory, although it was the Croatians who took the early lead on the counter-attack. Ivica Olic played in a low cross, which Nikica Jelavic was not quite able to make contact with. The slight deflection, however, was enough to put the ball straight into the path of Marcelo, who could not avoid putting the ball past a helpless Julio Cesar into his own net. Brazil continued to press, with Oscar forcing a remarkable diving save from Stipe Pletikosa. Before too long, however, they had equalised, with Neymar’s left foot strike sneaking past Pletikosa into the bottom corner of the net. Brazil kept pushing for an equaliser, and continued to dominate in all of the key areas.

The second half began much as the first, and not much happened for the first few minutes of the period. Brazil had a clear chance denied when Neymar was stopped from breaking through the Croatian defence by a foul from Vedran Corluka. Dani Alves missed the resultant free kick but a few minutes later Brazil had the lead. Brazilian striker Fred was pulled away from Oscar’s ground cross by Dejan Lovren, and despite a slightly over-inflated reaction from the Brazilian, Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot and booked Lovren. Neymar duly converted, despite Pletikosa getting a hand to it. David Luiz was forced into action just a minute later, deflecting a ground cross from Olic over the bar. The same defender nearly scored 5 minutes after that, with his header just missing the mark. Croatia pushed hard for an equaliser, a goal disallowed after Olic was deemed to have fouled Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar. Luka Modric and Corluka both missed good opportunities, but the game was placed beyond doubt in injury time, a couple of good challenges allowing Oscar to slot the ball past Pletikosa and grant the hosts a perfect start to the tournament.

Sao Paulo – Arena de Sao Paulo
Brazil 3 (Neymar 29, 71 pen, Oscar 90+1)
Croatia 1 (Marcelo 11 og)
Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Jpn)

Brazil: Julio Cesar – Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho (Hernanes 63), Neymar (Ramires 88), Oscar, Hulk (Bernard 68), Fred.

Croatia: Pletikosa – Vrsaljko, Lovren, Corluka, Srna, Rakitic, Modric, Olic, Kovacic (Brozovic 61), Perisic, Jelavic (Rebic 78).

Key Stats

  • Brazil had 59 percent of possession.
  • Brazil had 14 shots (9 on target), while Croatia had 10 shots (4 on target).
  • Croatia made 21 fouls, while Brazil only made 5.
  • Brazil had 7 corners to Croatia’s 3.