Sunday, June 15, 2014

World Cup 2014 : Italy vs England 2-1 / Uruguay vs Costa Rica 1-3

In a high voltage game in the Group D, touted as the Group of Death, England played their heart & breath out against Italy, but eventually faded to a 1-2 defeat. Under the new coach Roy Hodgson, England dropped their customary long ball game & came up with crisp short passes & quick burst of attacking football which left the Azzuri Blue Italy huffing & puffing initially. However, the more experienced Italian midfield under crafty Pirlo took controls gradually, & it was Pirlo's magic touch that brought in the opening goal, as Marchisio netted into the English goal. This lead was neutralized in almost no time, as Sterling chipped into Rooney who darted through the Italian defence & a peach of a pass had Sturridge send a lovely half volley into the net  to equalise.
Both teams played absorbing & pressing football, & the new look English team did catch the eye.....Sterling was outstanding with his incisive runs, along with Welbeck, Sturridge, ever assured Gerrard & even Rooney in flashes....the team looked fresh & determined, but for Baines & Cahill, who had a rather forgettable outing.... Italy, as always were languid & played their customary brand of football, & both team came close to scoring as the match was fast paced. It was Balotelli's header in the early second half, off a measured cross from Candreva, that gave Italy the vital lead & the eventual winner, as a diving Joe Hart under the English bar failed to put the ball out. They are known to close down into a solid defense & managed to thwart English raids from there on. Italy fielded Salvatore Sirigu instead of an injured Buffon under the bar & to his credit, Sirigu looked composed on the goal line. Pirlo could have made the score line 3-1 towards the dying minutes of the game, but his bending free kick hit the bar instead.
England will rue missed chances, but should take positives from the game.....they now need to beat Uruguay in the next match to retain hopes of going into the knock outs. Lets hope that Sturridge's injury towards the end of the game is not serious & he returns to the playing eleven.

In fact in the earlier match, Uruguay were stunned into a 1-3 defeat by underdogs Costa Rica, despite leading 1-0 in the half time. It was the 1st victory in nine outings against Uruguay for the Costa Ricans. Rejuvenated Costa Rican players marauded the Uruguayan goal & first Joel Campbell volleyed past Muslera to get the equaliser & then a couple of minutes later, centre back Oscar Duarte headed in a Christian Bolanes free kick. Suddenly the much famed Uruguay looked in tatters....Forlan looked forlorn, Cavanni & other stars looked lost in ideas, & they badly missed the mercurial presence of injured Luis Suarez. In the 84th minute, substitute Marcos Urena, gathered a pass from the irrepressible Campbell & slammed past a hapless Muslera. To add insult to injury, Maxi Pereira was sent off for bringing down Campbell in the stoppage time.... the 1st red card of the tournament.

The Group now is really open with Uruguay & England needing a win against each other in the next match.... as it stands, England may have an upper hand as they have more positives to take home from the match, while Uruguayans have themselves to blame for taking Costa Ricans lightly & ending up in a embarrassing hole..... this indeed is the Group of Death....