Today’s top stories:
Mexico has become the first team from outside Europe or South America to take a point off of Brazil in the World Cup. They did so yesterday thanks to the heroic performance of Guillermo Ochoa. He was absolutely fantastic in goal for El Tri. If you have a chance you should really watch the compilation of his saves, which can be found in the episode notes for this podcast. Brazil tried everything they could to break him down, but ultimately were unable to find a goal. This was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining 0-0 matches I’ve ever seen. Neymar was denied from close range in the late stages of this match and looks absolutely exasperated. It was an incredible performance by Mexico and throws a wrench into the Group A qualification picture.
Belgium looked to be stuck in second gear for the majority of their match yesterday against Algeria. Algeria managed to get an early penalty decision thanks to an unnecessary foul by Jan Vertongen. He hauled down Sofiane Ferghouli when the ball was nowhere near him. Ferghouli converted the penalty with ease and Belgium looked like they were going to fall short of their expectations. Marc Wilmots picked a poor lineup to start this match in my opinion. Nacer Chadli was in the starting lineup and largely ineffective in his time on the pitch. Mousa Dembele was unimpressive as was Romelu Lukaku. Wilmots got it right after halftime when he replaced Chadli with Dries Mertens. Divock Origi replaced Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini replaced Dembele. Once the three substitutions were made, Belgium really got it together. Kevin De Bruyne sent in a beautiful cross that Fellaini rose to and headed home in the 70th. Ten minutes later they struck again. KDB made a great tackle which led to a counter attack. Eden Hazard sent a lovely slotted pass across the penalty area and Dries Mertens hammered it home for the match winner.
Igor Akinfeev’s howler will likely be the only thing that we remember from Russia’s match against South Korea. Lee Keun-Ho sent a rocket on goal from about 25 yards directly at Akinfeev who displayed very poor catching form. The ball clattered off his palms, over his head, and into the net in a moment of absolute embarrassment for the Russian keeper. That broke the deadlock 68 minutes into the match. Six minutes later the hustle and determination of Alexander Kerzhakov paid off when he was able to fire home a rebound off his own chance to even the score at 1, which is where things finished. Two more goals from a substitute in this match, managers earning their money all over the place in this tournament.
In other news:
Yesterday, an explosion was reported at a World Cup watch center in Nigeria. At least 21 people were killed in that explosion in Damaturu. Public screenings have been cancelled in some regions of the nation because of threats from Boko Haram. Witnesses claim this explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber on a tricycle taxi.
Ilkay Gundogan has successfully undergone back surgery after ten months of rest and rehab were unsuccessful. He is expected to return to the pitch in 3 months, which is certainly good news for Dortmund fans.
There are rumors of a player mutiny in the Ghana squad that are circulating the internet. The coup is expected to be led by Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng who were unhappy with James Kwesi Appiah’s starting XI.
Fabio Coentrao has officially been ruled out of the World Cup with the groin injury he picked up against Germany. Huge blow for Portugal who will now have to cover for Pepe and Coentrao’s absence.
Clint Dempsey’s broken nose was confirmed by medical staff as was Jozy Altidore’s strained left hamstring. Both will be evaluated later today.
The MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon have been drawn against each other in the first round of the Capital One Cup.