World Cup roundup: CIV-JPN, ENG-ITA, URU-CRC, COL-GRE (June 14)

England captain Steven Gerrard (4) leads the team off the field as the match was stopped due to a thunderstorm warning during the first half against Honduras in a friendly in preparation for the World Cup, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The teams tied, 0-0. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/MCT)
England captain Steven Gerrard (4) leads the team off the field as the match was stopped due to a thunderstorm warning during the first half against Honduras in a friendly in preparation for the World Cup, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The teams tied, 0-0. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/MCT)

Bosnia midfielder Muhamed Besic slides across to block Côte d'Ivoire defenseman Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro in first-half action in an international friendly May 30 in St. Louis. MCT PHOTO

Group C: Côte d'Ivoire 2, Japan 1

The roar Japan's star striker Keisuke Honda let out after putting his team ahead against Côte d'Ivoire in the 16th minute with a beautifully poised left-footed strike appeared to be a release from the derision he suffered this year in his new role as AC Milan's No. 10.

Honda came to the World Cup with something to prove — and the goal he scored showed he still has the lethal touches that made him such a presence with his old club CSKA Moscow.

For Japan, the team couldn't find the inspiration that inhabited their talismanic player. Côte d'Ivoire kept muscling forward, and something had to give for a Japanese side that showed uncharacteristic sloppiness in its passing. Two strikes early in the second half gave Côte d'Ivoire a 2-1 lead that they kept till the final whistle.

If Japan can regroup from defeat in their first match, they still have an outside chance of getting through to the knockout stages. Two victories would put them through, and they have the talent and the depth to beat their next opponents Greece and Colombia.

But this performance also exposed mental lapses that the Japanese will need to address if they are to have any chance of making it through.

"We need to change our mentality," Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima conceded after the loss. "It's tough to accept defeat in the first match. We just need to give everything for the next match."

England captain Steven Gerrard, left, leads the team off the field during the first half against Honduras in a friendly in preparation for the World Cup on June 7 in Florida. MCT PHOTO

Group D: Italy 2, England 1

MANAUS, Brazil — With one nod of his head, Mario Balotelli gave Italy a 2-1 win over England and put the four-time champions in position to go far at the World Cup.

The often volatile and often brilliant Italy striker was left unmarked at the far post, giving him plenty of space to head a cross from Antonio Candreva past goalkeeper Joe Hart for the winning goal.

Claudio Marchisio had scored first for Italy, sending a long shot through a crowded area and past a diving Hart in the 35th. Daniel Sturridge equalized for England two minutes later, tapping in a cross from Wayne Rooney.

Ballotelli's header came in the 50th, but with the heat and humidity at the Arena da Amazonia slowing the pace of play in the second half, it came at just the right time.

"We won, but now let's keep our feet on the ground, otherwise, we're not going anywhere," Balotelli said.

The match was played in the Amazonian city of Manaus, the most exotic of the 12 World Cup venues for this year's tournament. According to FIFA, it was 86 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity at 61 percent for the match.

"At times, it felt like having hallucinations due to the heat," said Claudio Marchisio, who scored Italy's opening goal.

England's attack-minded lineup made frequent runs into the Italy area throughout the match and came close to scoring several times.

The best of the chances came in the 24th when Danny Welbeck sent the ball across the front of goal, but Andrea Barzagli was able to slide in and tip the ball up in the air. Raheem Sterling, who had been running in from the left, jumped for the header but couldn't reach it, letting the ball go past him as he tumbled into the net.

England and Italy were playing each other at the World Cup for only the second time. They also met in the third-place match at the 1990 World Cup, with the Italians also winning 2-1.

Group D: Costa Rica 3, Uruguay 1

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Costa Rica came from behind to stun Uruguay 3-1 at the World Cup, opening the tough Group D with a major upset.

Uruguay left star striker Luis Suarez on the bench but went ahead when Edinson Cavani scored a penalty in the 24th minute.

The Central Americans fought back after the break and lone striker Joel Campbell drove in a ball headed down by Celso Borges in the 54th to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Oscar Duarte dived past the outstretched foot of Uruguay's Cristian Stuani to head in the winner for the underdogs, and substitute Marcos Urena added the third with six minutes left, catching out Muslera to slot the ball in from a tight angle.

It was Costa Rica's first World Cup victory since beating China in the group stage in 2002.

Uruguay started with striker Diego Forlan alongside Cavani, but the 35-year-old made little impact and was substituted on the hour for Nicolas Lodeiro.

Uruguay — the highest-ranked team in a group that also includes England and Italy — ended their disastrous night with 10 men after Maxi Pereira was sent off for a clumsy injury time foul on Campbell. Pereira will be suspended from the next game against England.

Suarez is still recovering from knee surgery and never came off the bench — indicating that the Liverpool forward is still far from match fitness.

Group C: Colombia 3, Greece 0

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Colombia started its first World Cup campaign in 16 years in dazzling fashion, beating Greece 3-0 to open Group C today in front of a big, loud pro-Colombian crowd.

Left back Pablo Armero opened the scoring in the fifth minute when his deflected shot rolled past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Striker Teofilo Gutierrez poked in Colombia's second goal from a deflected corner in the 58th and James Rodriguez capped it off with a low shot in stoppage time after a slick backheel flick from Juan Cuadrado.

"It was a good debut with players who had never played a World Cup," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. "It's a big satisfaction. This is how we planned this match. Some things turned out the way we wanted, some things didn't, but we were very concentrated and showed that we're here to play a good World Cup."

Rodriguez said the result showed Colombia was on the right path.

"It's a good start, but we have to be calm for what's ahead, which will be even more difficult," he said, looking ahead at Group C matches against Ivory Coast and Japan.

The Greeks had a chance to pull a goal back after Gutierrez scored, but an unmarked Georgios Samaras rattled the crossbar from two yards out.

There were other chances, too. Panagiotis Kone's shot went just wide in the first half. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina then made an outstanding reaction save to deny Kone just before halftime.

"You can't make excuses when you lose 3-0," Greece coach Fernando Santos said. "We had good spells of play and all we can do now is look at the next matches."

Greece will now have to regroup ahead of its second match against Japan after its notoriously solid defense leaked three goals.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...