There was little indication at half-time, in both games, of the drama that was about to unfold.
COLOMBIA AND IVORY COAST were in pole position in Group C but Japan and Greece were not yet dead and buried.
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Good evening and welcome, hopefully, to a bite-free evening of football. We could not get you started, though, without showing you exactly what went down during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy.
Here are your teams for this evening’s two big games, starting off with Yaya and the lads taking on goal-less Greece.
IVORY COAST: Barry, Boka, K Toure, Kalou, Tiote, Gervinho, Drogba, Aurier, Y Toure, Serey, Bamba.
GREECE: Karnezis, Maniatis, Manolas, Samaras, Kone, Karagounis, Salpingidis, Torosidis, Lazaros, Sokratis and Cholevas.
And here are the Japanese and Colombian starting XI’s.
JAPAN: Kawashima, Uchida, Honda, Nagatomo, Okazaki, Kagawa, Okubo, Aoyama, Konno, Hasebe, Yoshida.
COLOMBIA: Ospina, Arias, Armero, Cuadrado, Guarin, Mejia, Balanta, Ramos, Quintero, Martinez, Valdes.
It’s hard not to love the Colombian lads. Here they are, goating around in training at Arena Pantanal on Monday.
Out of the four sides playing this evening, who do you think will go the furthest?
15 minutes from kick-off so catch up on some of the best World Cup stories we covered today…
The RTE lads don’t fancy Colombia this evening. Predictions: Japan [Didi and Kenny], draw [Richie].
What’s going on in Fortaleza as Ivory Coast take on Greece? This dreamer is in for some disappointment.
3 mins - What some may call shadow boxing in the opening minutes. Quintero tries to spark his team but Japan back in numbers.
5 mins – Greece have a free-kick cleared. Bamba looking lively for Ivory Coast.
Balanta hooves clear before Honda is fouled. Japan pour forward and looking dangerous after a tetchy start.
7 mins - The wait for a truly great free-kick goal continues as Honda thwangs one off the Colombian wall.
9 mins - Jackson Martinez with some neat-o dragbacks but Colombia’s attack fizzles out.
Gervinho went on a good run for Ivory Coast but the threat was snuffed out in the box as he was ready to squeeze the trigger.
10 mins - Okubo gets a couple of sniffs but fails to find the target with either effort.
15 mins - Kagawa with a slaloming run that ends in the Colombian box but he can’t get his shot away.
PEN to Colombia…..
16 mins - Konno scythes down Ramos. No doubt.
GOAL! Colombia 1-0 Japan (Cuadrado ’17)
He smashes it home as Kawashima guesses the wrong way. Cue a little dance.
Straight up the middle:
22 mins - 25m out and Honda wants it. Off. The. Wall.
When will be get a decent free-kick in the tournament?
23 mins - Over in the Ivory Coast v Greece game, we have a new Grecian goalkeeper between the sticks. Panagiotis Glykos replaces the injured Orestis Karnezis.
25 mins - Kagawa draws a fine, diving stop from Ospina. Short corner-kick routine but Kagawa is shut down this time.
I removed this as the main image but it would be a shame to see it off completely. Still 0-0 in Ivory Coast v Greece.
31 mins - Brian Kerr talking about Colombia’s “pattrens” of defending with only six players at times. Attackers, he says, don’t bust a lung to get back. Honda’s corner is headed clear.
32 mins - Here comes Honda’s third free-kick opportunity …
CLOSE! He jinked one to the goalkeeper’s left-hand post but wide it whistles.
In the other game, Samaras went down in the Ivory Coast box but no penalty. Free-kick from Karagounis then saved.
36 mins - Okubo with an acrobatic overhead kick that whizzes over the bar. Worth the pop after a good cross.
37 mins - Ball breaks to Quintero at the edge of the box but he flitters it left and wide.
Lovely beard on Didier at the moment.
39 mins - Poor old Japan. They are reluctant to whip in corners and see them headed clear so are taking short corners with mixed results.
GOAL! Greece 1-0 Ivory Coast (Andreas Samaris ’42)
Nice ball slid through to cut the Ivory Coast ahead and the 24-year-old Olimpiacos striker keeps his cool to finish well.
44 mins - Brian Kerr is doing the maths after that Greece goal but Japan would be stuck on one point if they lose so the Greeks would be on their own on four points.
45 mins - Aoyama has a shot blocked down from distance but, hold on, we have Japan GOAL!!
GOAL: Colombia 1-1 Japan (Okazaki ’45+1)
A stooping header right on half-time. Cat, meet pigeons.
Here is that Japan goal:
And this is the Samaris goal for Greece after Tiote gave possession away:
Second half KICKS OFF
47 mins - The fans are in fine voice tonight. Good to see/hear. Colombia making the early running. Japan need one more goal and they could yet sneak into the last 16.
49 mins – James Rodriguez is on for Colombia and he has already injected some attacking spice to affairs. His run and shot win a corner but it is headed clear.
51 mins - Ramos looks a handy player. Nice close control; evasive. Colombia happy to entice Japan forward and zoom forward on the break. Ivory Coast have started brightly in the other game but Greece holding firm.
53 mins - Jackson Martinez knees one over from four yards out.
GOAL! Colombia 2-1 Japan (Martinez ’54)
Rodriguez makes the difference. Nice touch and lay-off but Martinez still has a lot to do and hammers it home with the help of a slight deflection.
58 mins - Right Japan, it’s kitchen sink time. Kagawa with a nice cross and Okupo troubles Ospina but the sketchy goalkeeper does just enough to get the ball out of the DZ.
The Martinez goal, replete with excited Colombia fans and a ‘GOOOLLLLL’!
62 mins – Greece smack the wall with another dross, dreadful free-kick from 25 yards out. Only one goal in three games from the Greeks and they are currently en-route to the next round.
63 mins - Honda with the best of his four frees but Ospina palms it away. I have not been too impressed with the Colombian goalkeeper so far at WC2014.
CLOSE! Okazaki ‘hit it on the meat’ (copyright Brian Kerr) but over it goes.
68 mins - Japan win a corner and will need to strike soon if they are to move on. Colombia content to hold back.
James Rodriguez, only 22 and at AS Monaco. Signed from Porto in 2013 after three seasons in which he scored 25 goals in 63 games. Looks a quality player.
GOAL!! Ivory Coast 1-1 Greece (Bony ’73)
Gervinho turns provider and the Swansea striker slots home calmly. Ivory Coast would be through if the scoreline remains the same.
This is the Bony goal:
79 mins - The piper seems to have piped for Japan. They press on but they will need miracles at this stage.
GOAL! Colombia 3-1 Japan (Martinez ’81)
Nice tackle in midfield and the ball breaks to Rodriguez. Sweet pass but Martinez has lots to do. He cuts back and slices home a beauty.
84 mins - Colombia spreading the love. On comes goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón who is 43. He becomes the oldest player to appear at the World Cup.
Wow, Mondragon played at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. Amazing stuff. He beats Roger Milla’s record by a year. He only turned 43 on Saturday.
GOAL!!!! Colombia 4-1 Japan (Rodriguez ’88)
What a goal. Beats the offside trap. Cuts back inside but lofts a Messi-esque chip in from an acute angle.
OH! PENALTY AWARDED TO GREECE…..
Samaras to take. 93 minutes played. ALL OR NOTHING….
GOAL! Ivory Coast 1-2 Greece (Samaras 90+2)
Sio fells his man and, after a long wait and some mind games, Samaras slots home. They will advance if they can survive the last 60 seconds.
Goodness, bloody gracious. Injury-time penalty and Ivory Coast are on the summer holidays. Hard cheese lads. Greece defying the odds again.
Colombia, meanwhile, looked pure class after the break and Rodriguez was a star. Martinez looked decent too.
Here is how it finished up in Group C. Check this out, Costa Rica will play Greece in the Last 16. Colombia will face Uruguay, with or without Luis Suarez.
Thanks for joining us. Reports and reactions to follow.
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