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World Cup Round Up: Match Day 4

Today's World Cup action was no where near as good as previous days, but yet we still got 12 goals! Remarkable.

Matthew Lewis

Japan v Ivory Coast was the first game of the day, kicking off at the really convenient time of 2AM, but as I'm such a lovely person I powered through my tiredness and watched the game with my blurry vision, all to write about it for you.

Japan started the brightest, and went ahead through a sensational strike from AC Milan's Keisuke Honda: Okazaki found Honda in the box, the latter's beautiful first touch took the ball away from a defender, and in one fluid movement, he smashed the ball into the top corner of the goal.

Japan then went close to adding a second when right back Atsuto Uchida, went on a mazey gander up the pitch, beating two players before testing goalkeeper Boubacar Barry (the best name at the tournament).

Ivory Coast did come close to scoring them selves when Arthur Boka's bending free kick, went an inch over the crossbar. Boka would then test Japanese 'keeper Eiji Kawashima again, with a rasping drive from thirty yards out.

Despite Ivory Coast's best efforts they went in at the break a goal down, but the introduction of Didier Drogba, would go on to inspire their comeback.

In the space of two minutes, the Elephants had turned the game around, the first goal coming from the coolest man in football, Wilfried Bony. The impressive Serge Aurier fizzed in a brilliant cross from the right hand side, which Bony duly abridged to head in.

Aurier was at again two minutes later, he again whipped in a cross into the box, but this time it was Gervinho who got his head to it, and the ball crept in past Kawashima at the near post.

Drogba came close to furthering Ivory Coast's lead twice, as the Elephants finished the game on top and left Japan with work to do, if they are to get out of the group

Full Time: Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

64 - Bony       16 - Honda

68 - Gervinho

MOTM: Serge Aurier

The first game to be played when I was actually in some form of functional condition was SwitzerlandEcuador. This one wasn't a classic, but it did have some astonishing late drama.

Ecuador started the brightest of the two teams, with Switzerland struggling to get a firm hold of the game, Xherdan Shaqiri, being the biggest disappointment early on with several over hit passes and set pieces. He did force the first save of the game however to his credit: his quick feet aiding him in evading the Ecuadorian defender, before he dispatched a low drive from the edge of the area, which Alexander Dominguez dealt with reasonably comfortably.

On the 22nd minute Ecuador were ahead through the formidable Enner Valencia: Walter Ayovi swinged in a beautiful cross, which found the unmarked Valencia, due to the fault of Johan Djourou, and headed in to score in a fifth game in a row for Ecuador.

Switzerland were reduced to shots from distance, as they couldn't break down the energetic Ecuadorians, with Shaqiri, Gokhan Inler and Ricardo Rodriguez all trying their luck. Switzerland also wasted corners, with Shaqirir continuing to over hit them.

Early in the second half Rodriguez finally got an opportunity to display his skill from a dead ball situation, and surprise, surprise, his corner was headed in by substitute Admir Mehmedi, who took advantage of more poor marking to equalise.

Jefferson Montero then threatened the Switzerland goal, after he used his pace to elude Stephan Litchensteiner, but he opted to shoot on goal from a tight angle, instead of play the ball across the face of goal for the advancing attacker.

After not making an appearance in the last couple of games, the wrongly disallowed goal duly returned, to deny the unfortunate Josip Drmic. Rodriguez played a through ball into the box, which Granit Xhaka didn't touch as it went through, which found an unmarked and onside from the original pass Drmic, who slotted in to the goal, only for the offside flag to be raised. Leaving the count of incorrectly disallowed goal at four.

Enner Valencia nearly took advantage of mix up between Diego Benaglio and Djourou, and Ayovi then went close, with his free kick slipping through a poor constructed wall, but Benaglio, managed to palm the ball away.

Late into added time Antonio Valencia advanced forwarded and found Joao Rojas who should have taken the shot first time, but he hesitated, the next thing he knew Valon Behrami had disposed him with a brilliant tackle and was away, and he continued to advance despite being body checked by an Ecuadorian defender, the ball eventually found it's way to the charging Rodriguez, who's perfectly place cross was turned in by Haris Seferovic, to win the game in the most dramatic way possible.

Full Time: Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador

48 - Mehmedi   22- E Valencia

90 - Seferovic

MOTM: Ricardo Rodriguez

The next game began with utter blasphemy... NO NATIONAL ANTHEMS for the France v Honduras tie, outrageous.

France dominated the early stages, well, they dominated the whole game, with Honduras only managing to register a single shot on target.

Mathieu Valbuena and Antonine Griezmann, being key players with their clever movements and touches, deep in to the Honduras half. But it was Blaise Matuidi, who had the first real chance of the game: he brought the ball down Valbuena's diverted free kick on his knee, twisted his body impressively, and side footed the looping shot with power, but Noel Valladares did really well to tip the gal onto the crossbar.

Griezmann then rose well over a Honduran defender to meet Patrice Evra's cross, and his header bounced of the cross bar, then got hacked away.

Then we got the first real spat between players this World Cup, in attempt to win the ball, Wilson Palacios must have stepped on Paul Pogba about five times, the French youngster reacted foolishly and stuck a leg out and tripped up Palacios. Of course, Palacios had to act as if he'd been twated by a house, even to the extent where he called a stretcher, but some how Pogba didn't get sent off, escaping the incident with a booking, as did Palacios. Now, by the rules of the game, Pogba should have been sent off, no question. But I feel that the referee interpreted it as a bit of handbags, and let them off with a booking. Which for me, was a good call as it would stop the situation from getting anymore heated.

The game wore in with out any chances being created, Pogba did brilliantly well to get the ball out from the byline, despite having three men hounding him out, the ball got to Benzema wide of the goal, he had the opportunity to pull the ball back for his team mates, but he didn't and the chance was lost.

On the cusp of time however, the dead lock was broken. Some what fittingly, Palacios bundled over Pogba in the box, which earned himself a second booking and gave a penalty to France. Karim Benzema claimed the ball, and did not disappoint, thumping the ball into the top left corner.

Then we got the moment we've all been waiting for...

Goal line technology made it's stunning, hilarious and completely correct first meaningful appearance to award a Valladares own goal to France. Another stunning pass from Yohan Cabaye reached Benzema, whose side foot volley hit the inside of the post and did not go in, but the ball then bounced of Valladares' arm and he was just too slow in clawing it back out again. As you've probably heard, Jonathan Pearce had a bit of a break down live on air and he had no idea what going on, but ultimately, we've learned that goal line technology bloody works!

Honduras got their only opportunity of the game when Costly, caught Sakho in possession, but his "shot" was really poor and Hugo Lloris, who I had forgotten was playing, gathered up with out breaking a sweat. Honduras seemed to be contenting with trying to end the life of every player wearing blue by this point anyway.

France added a third goal when a corner was played out to Mathieu Debuchy, the one with the stupid hair, whose drive fell into the path of Benzema, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net from a slightly tight angle.

It was a poor game but a solid start for France, and only one of their players left the field injured, which I consider a success. I won't be staying up 'til two to watch Honduras, that's for sure.

Full Time: France 3-0 Honduras

45, 72 - Benzema

48 - Valadres

MOTM: Mathieu Valbuena

The final game of the day was many people's favourites, Argentina, coming up against the only World Cup debutants of the year, the remarkable Bosnia & Herzegovina. The very fact that BIH, are taking part in this tournament is remarkable to me, and I sincerely hope they go far.

Nineteen years ago BIH played their first official game against Albania; they had nine players, asked a retired one player and two none professionals to take part, today they played in the World Cup, in the gorgeous Maracana.

But to my dismay, they had the worst start imaginable, Lionel Messi's free kick was flicked on by Rojo, and defender Sead Kolisinac unwittingly put the ball into his own goal.

BIN, weren't put down by the early set back though and grew into the game as it went on: a good ball over the top was brought down brilliantly by Izet Hajrovic, but Argentine 'keeper Sergio Romero - who only played seven games this season for his club, Monaco - was out quickly and bravely punched clear.

BIN were doing quite well on their World Cup bow, the majestic Miralem Pjanic being a real a highlight with his composure on the ball, but they weren't creating any chances. They were being too slow in the transition from defence to attack and failing to exploit the gaps in Argentina's three man defence, which allowed Argentina too close them down and win back possession. Which was a shame, because BIN really were the better side for most of the half, they just couldn't make it count.

Their best opportunity came from a corner, which Romero got down well to, to deny Senad Lulic.

Half time saw Argentina bin off the unsuccessful 3-5-2, for a more familiar 4-3-3 formation and introduced Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain, as a result Argentina were a lot better second half, becoming more fluid and meaningful with possession.

The highlight of the game came when Argentine left back Marcos Rojo, showed a great amount of balls to clear the ball out the area with a Rabona. It was an unbelievable bit of skill.

With Argentina improving in the second half, it was no surprise when Lionel Messi, doubled his side's lead with a beautiful goal. He left destruction in his wake, as he danced past one challenge, leaving the defender to clatter into his team mate, then his shot from the edge of the area went in by a slight deflection and the post.

Argentina came alive after the goal and had a few more opportunities, with none finding the net. It was Bosnia however, who brought a goal back, through Vedad Ibesevic. A historic moment as he scored Bosnia's first goal at a tournament, Lulic slipped Ibesevic in, and his weak shot trickled under Romero and over the line.

Bosnia were buoyed by the goal and went in search for what would be a dramatic equaliser, but unfortunately they were again wateful in the final third, as they had been all game and the game finished 2-1.

But Bosnia & Herzegovina, have reason to be proud and they are more than capable of qualifying from their group.

Full Time: Argentina 2-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina

3 - Kolasinac (OG)   84 - Ibesevic

65 - Messi

MOTM: Miralem Pjanic

World Cup Player Pun of the day:

Lionel Messi

Lionel Clean