Some superb strikes and individual moments of brilliance involved in day 9’s action. Brazil looked to secure a crucial 3 points, while Serbia squared up to the Swiss in the second game from that group. Meanwhile, the Super Eagles of Nigeria faced off against the Icemen from Iceland.
Match 1: Brazil Vs. Costa Rica (2-0)
Well, the result of this did not reflect the course of the game as Brazil struggled to find a way past a determined Kaylor Navas in net. It took a second tournament strike from Coutinho to break the deadlock in the first of 6 Injury time minutes. The second goal of the day was scored in the dying seconds of the game to secure Costa Rica’s early departure.
Brazil were pretty poor in the opening 45. They failed to have an impact and Navas had little to do in the Costa Rican net. His side defended valiantly and we’re hoping to hurt Brazil on the counter. Gamboa made some excellent runs the full length of the pitch right the way through the game. They did look powerful on the break with their pace. Bryan Ruiz’s side struggled to make an impact against Roma’s Allison, who guarded the Brazillian goal well.
We looked set to see our first goalless draw of the tournament. With a 78th minute penalty claim reviewed and later denied by VAR Brazil’s hopes of scoring seemed to be dwindling. However, arguably their best player in recent games, Coutinho conjured up a magic moment to fire the hosts to a much-needed win. Marcelo whipped a ball in that was headed down by Bobby Firmino to the foot of Jesus. The chance looked as though it was slipping away as Jesus struggled to control, but a rampant Coutinho charged into the penalty area and slammed the ball home.
Neymar again saw himself being frustrated as the Costa Rican side proved to be quite physical with the flamboyant star. his frustrations eventually boiled over as he was penalised for a foul in the last minutes of normal time. He responded by slamming the ball off the ground in anger, which earned him a yellow card. He finally got his revenge when he tapped home their second of the day to seal the win in the 7th minute of added time.
Match 2: Nigeria Vs. Iceland (2-0)
Magical Musa. The Leicester city flop who’s spent the last season on loan proved his worth on two spectacular occasions. His brace ensures Nigeria Live to fight another day, as well as giving life to Argentina’s hopes of escaping further embarrassment. A Victory over Nigeria in their final game would see Argentina through. If Iceland manage to beat Croatia, it will be decided on goal difference.
Iceland started the game well, they forced 19-year-old keeper Uzoho into two saves in the opening 5 minutes. Ultimately though, they failed to capitalise on this early dominance as Nigeria grew into the game.
Despite starting the game slowly and being the first team in the finals to not register a single shot in the opening half, they soon grew in the second half. Musa and Nigeria burst out of the traps in the second half. He showed some sensational skill and control to fire home from a Victor Moses cross in the 49th minute. He then continued to cause problems as he hit the bar and soon grabbed a second in spectacular fashion. His cool calm and collected finish for the second of the game made sure he became Nigeria’s record scorer in World Cup games with a tally of 4.
An 80th minute VAR awarded penalty gave the Icemen some hope. The usually ice-cold Sigurdsson stepped up to take but ultimately melted under the pressure as he fired over the bar. After a few late chances for the small nation side, the game ended with the score 2-0 in favour of the Nigerians.
Match 3: Serbia Vs. Switzerland (1-2)
The final game of the day saw Serbia take on Switzerland in a fight for 3 points. The Swiss were on the backfoot for the majority of the first half as Aleksander Mitrovic fired the Serbs in front after 5 minutes. The striker, on loan at Fulham last season, was involved in a flurry of Serbian attacks as the Swiss struggled to cope. He also found himself being squeezed and held by two Swiss players in the penalty area in what should have been a definite penalty midway through the second half. In the end, it went unpunished.
The Swiss improved in the second half, as Serbia struggled to keep up the attacking intensity of the first. Swiss striker Haris Seferovic saw the hook at halftime after just 5 touches in the first half. This proved to be the catalyst they needed.
They continued the dominate the attacking chance of the second half. Their efforts seemed to pay off as Xhaka fired home a powerful effort past a stranded keeper to draw his side level on 52. Shaqiri then struck the post from a curling effort soon after. The game seemed to be heading for a draw, but Shaqiri popped up to capitalise on some poor defending and secure his side to 3 points in the 90th minute. Switzerland join Brazil on 4 points at the top of the group.
They only need a draw against Costa Rica, who have already been eliminated, in their final game. By doing so they will qualify for the last 16.
If Switzerland take 3 points, Serbia must triumph over Brazil to get through to the knockout stages.
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