On day 13…
IT WAS YET another infamous day in the life of Luis Suarez.
He and his team-mates say he did not bite Giorgio Chiellini, but with his record he shouldn’t even be risking the accusation.
The Liverpool striker clashed with the defender late in the Group D clash between Uruguay and Italy.
The Azzuri were clinging to a goalless draw that would have sent the 10 men through to the last 16, but within minutes of Chiellini baring his shoulder to show off what appeared to be teeth marks, Diego Godin powered the South Americans into the lead.
With no way back for Italy, Cesare Prandelli immediately announced his resignation as manager.
There was late drama in the 9pm kick-offs too as another runners-up spot went down to the wire in Group C.
A late penalty from Georgios Samaras gave Greece the win they needed to set up a knock-out clash against Costa Rica…. just let that settle in: either Greece or Costa Rica will be in a World Cup quarter-final.
As the pressure was ratcheted high in Fortaleza, Colombia showed absolute no signs of creaking in Cuiabá.
The Group C leaders comfortably made it three wins from three thanks to a brace from Jackson Martinez and another virtuoso display from James Rodriquez – rounded off by a stunning chipped finish – against Japan.
That glorious free-flowing football cast England’s World Cup in an even harsher light. Roy Hodgson’s men will head home from Brazil having not once taken the lead in any of their three games.
Yesterday, the already-qualified Costa Rica took the point they needed to secure top spot in Group D and with it the dark horse tag in the knock-out stage.
You can doubt many things about Greece, but never their persistence or application.
Teams with lesser mental strength might have wilted after being torn apart in the opening round of fixtures and reduced to 10 men early in the second, but they clung on in there.
And last night, after Wilfried Bony’s goal had them facing the exit again, they found a way to win – Samaras’ grace under pressure in this case.
While Luis Suarez could well be facing a ban to keep him out of the remainder of the World Cup and Japan and England completed awful tournaments, Italy were the biggest losers yesterday.
For the second World Cup in a row, the Azzurri have failed to escape the group. That’s just not good enough for a nation with claims to one of Europe’s big four leagues, and the rudderless performances against Costa Rica and Uruguay have made their calm victory over England seem like a flash in the pan.
Whether you call him James, Rodriguez or ‘Ham-ez’, this was a sensational way to end the group stages.
What we’ve got to look forward to today
It’s time to wrap up Group F and E, so that means we’ll have to choose between the stuttering Argentina v Nigeria (with a draw enough to qualify both sides) or the plucky Iranians up against Bosnia Herzegovina in the 5pm kick-offs.
9pm will pit Group E leaders and the World Cup’s in-form team, France, against second placed Ecuador. Switzerland will be hoping Les Bleus can notch a third win so that they can edge past Honduras and into the last 16.