World Cup roundup: GRE-CIV, JPN-COL, CRC-ENG, ITA-URU (June 24)
|Uruguay's Luis Suarez holds his teeth after appearing to bite Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during FIFA World Cup on June 24. MCT PHOTO|
Group C: Greece 2, Côte d'Ivoire 1
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty to send Greece into the second round of the World Cup for the first time with a 2-1 win over Côte d'Ivoire, eliminating the Africans in the process.
Côte d'Ivoire would have advanced with a draw.
"This means so much to me, to us. ... Tonight, we had energy," Samaras said, dedicating the win to Greeks suffering through financial crisis. "We really hope we can make the people happy back home. We are a team. A team — that's it."
In Athens, where the game ended well after midnight, thousands of fans poured into the streets to celebrate. The players in Fortaleza danced around in a circle and sang with small groups of travelling fans at Arena Castelao who had been drowned out all night by the pro-African Brazilian crowd.
"We came here to advance from the group stage. We've never done it before, and we did tonight in a great way," said Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis, a veteran of the team that won the European Championship in 2004.
Greece, which had failed to score in the previous two Group C matches, finished second in Group C with four points, behind winner Colombia with nine. Côte d'Ivoire had three and Japan one.
Group C: Japan 1, Colombia 4
CUIABA, Brazil — James Rodriguez delivered a brilliant cameo performance off the bench to inspire Colombia to a 4-1 victory over Japan at the World Cup, helping secure top spot for his team in Group C and eliminating the Japan champions.
Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win and set up a second-round match against Uruguay.
"Colombia has the talent of the [world's] big teams right now," said Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni, who may have taken charge of his last match with the national team. "It will go a long way."
Zaccheroni said he would contemplate in the coming days whether to end his four-year stint with Japan, which finished bottom of the group at the end of a campaign that failed to live up to expectations.
With Côte d'Ivoire losing to Greece, a win could have put Japan through to the second round, but the team faced an uphill battle from the moment Yasuyuki Konno lunged into a challenge on Adrian Ramos and conceded a penalty. Cuadrado drilled the spot kick low and hard down the middle.
Rodriguez made a difference after halftime, enlivening the crowd and the team's attacking play with his turn of speed and precision passing.
Within 10 minutes, he had sent a shot spinning just wide, troubled Japan's defense with a free kick and then created Martinez's goal by running onto the ball and playing in his teammate with a cute pass. The striker took one touch and shot left-footed low into the corner.
The FC Porto striker made it 3-1 with a curling left-foot finish, this time following a reverse pass from Rodriguez, who garnished the score with his third — and best — goal of the tournament.
"I think what James has done today simply demonstrates what we expected from him," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. "From the beginning of this World Cup, he has shown that he is very well physically, is fit and that we can expect a lot from him."
Group D: Costa Rica 0, England 0
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Defying all the doubters, Costa Rica came through perhaps the toughest group of the World Cup unbeaten and on top.
Costa Rica followed up its wins over Uruguay and Italy by holding England to a dour 0-0 draw, enough to finish first in Group D. Quite an achievement for a team that was seen as the rank outsider in the first ever World Cup group that contained three former champions.
"It wasn't the death group after all — at least not for us," Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. He dedicated the qualification to "those who believed in us and those who didn't."
"People started believing after the game against Italy," he added.
Costa Rica only needed a draw to top Group D and played that way, setting up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation against England.
The result gives Costa Rica its best World Cup performance.
"We will have to keep fighting," Pinto said. "Whatever happens we are willing to fight."
Wayne Rooney came on as a substitute late in the second half and made an instant impact for England. He found space just outside Costa Rica's area in the 80th, but the backpedalling Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas was able to tip it over the bar and out for a corner.
While England showed improvement in the second half, the team just couldn't find a way a through Costa Rica's rearguard.
A hardcore group of about 150 England fans stayed in the stands long after the final whistle in an otherwise empty Mineirao Stadium, chanting loudly and jumping up and down.
About 25 armed riot police with shields and batons formed a line behind stewards who were urging them to leave. Singing "England Till We Die," the fans eventually left the stands peacefully.
Group D: Italy 0, Uruguay 1
NATAL, Brazil — Captain Diego Godin scored in the 81st minute as Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 Tuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup, although the victory was overshadowed by a biting incident involving the South American side's star forward Luis Suarez.
With four-time champion Italy heading home after the group phase for a second time in four years, coach Cesare Prandelli and football federation president Giancarlo Abete both resigned moments after the match.
Godin rose above a crowd of defenders to meet a corner with his left shoulder and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had no chance.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area.
Suarez was already sanctioned with a heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players for biting with bans of up to two years.
Suarez did not respond to questions from print reporters after the game, passing by them with a smile and a thumbs up.
The biting incident was only one of many ugly incidents in a highly physical "in or out" match at the Arena das Dunas.
Marchisio was shown a direct red card for putting his boot into Egidio Arevalo's knee in the 59th. Also, Mario Balotelli picked up his second yellow card in two matches for a dangerous foul during the first half, and was benched for the second period.
"[The referee] certainly didn't give us a helping hand," Buffon said. "But in the end, you can't always be recriminating and putting the blame on others.
"Every now and then, it's only right that you accept what you're to blame for and when you're coming off two defeats without even scoring a goal, we clearly also have to take our share of that blame," added Buffon, who tied the record by being selected for his fifth World Cup squad.
Costa Rica was the surprise winner of Group D with seven points following a 0-0 draw with England. Uruguay finished second with six, while Italy and England went home with three and one point, respectively.