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I’m sure you’ve all heard at this point about the Luis Suarez incident and that possibly as a result, Italy has been knocked out of the World Cup. It was a shocking affair at the Estadio Das Dunas in Natal. Mario Balotelli picked up a yellow card in the first half. This meant that Balotelli would miss the next Italy match, but for some reason Cesare Prandelli decided to substitute him following the halftime break in a decision that made absolutely no sense to me. Immobile’s contribution to the Italian attack was almost nonexistent in the first half, and taking off Balotelli signaled that Italy were playing for a scoreless draw. Just before halftime, Gigi Buffon made a spectacular double save that kept the match level.
The game was always a contentious affair, Italy managed 19 fouls, while Uruguay bettered them with 20. The match took a turn in the 59th minute when Claudio Marchisio delivered a studs to knee standing challenge to Arevalo Rios. He did this right in front of the match official and received a straight red card for it. I was a challenge deserving of a red card, especially because of the proximity to the referee. Italy were now down to 10 men, but continued to fight on. The match continued for 20 more minutes, with Uruguay entering the ascendancy.
But then in the 79th minute, Luis Suarez decided that it was feeding time. He bore down on the back of Giorgio Chiellini and dug hit teeth into the shoulder of the Italian defender. It was an absolute moment of madness, Suarez’ Zidane moment. I don’t know what it is with Italian defenders, but they tend to bring out the absolute worst in their opposition. Football is a game of emotion, environmental and oppositional factors fray at the nerves of players, and sometimes these emotions get the best of players. We’ve seen these moments come from enigmatic talents like Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona, and now most recently with the third biting incident of Luis Suarez career. Ever the villain, Suarez must have listened to that voice in his head that said if he did this now, he would go down in football lore forever. Which he will. He could also face up to a 24 match ban for this incident.
Chiellini attempted to show the referee the bite marks, but Suarez received no punishment in the course of the match, although the incident is now under FIFA investigation. Two minutes later, Diego Godin capped off his incredible, dominant performance by rising above the Italian defense to meet a Gaston Ramirez corner kick to head home the match’s only goal. He had a great performance, he shut down the Italy attack and scored his second massive goal of the last two months. Italy wasn’t able to mount any offensive attack in the late stages of the match and they were doomed to a World Cup exit in the group stages, meaning Uruguay and Costa Rica would go through to the knockout stages.
Costa Rica managed a scoreless draw against England in their final group stage match. The Tico’s sealed the group with that result. In truth, it was a boring 0-0 draw that saw England go out of the World Cup with a whimper. Roy Hodgeson took the opportunity to play Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley in the starting lineup. Frank Lampard took the captain’s armband, but this was an already defeated squad that didn’t really mount much during the match. Both teams had three shots on target, and all three saves were made by Keylor Navas and Ben Foster.
Colombia ran riot over Japan yesterday, signaling the Japanese exit from the World Cup. They won by a final score of 4-1, after the teams went into the halftime break level at 1. Konno was given a yellow card for a bad foul and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Juan Cuadrado slotted the penalty down the middle for the conversion to open the scoring. Japan fought back just before the halftime break in stoppage time, Keisuke Honda sent in a beautiful cross, which Shinji Okazaki then manipulated his body to score a fantastic header to level the match.
In the second half, Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez took over, he finished off a spectacular bit of interplay from Columbia which ended with a James Rodriguez pass which Martinez dunked home for the finish. Japan managed an impressive number of shots, with 13 on target for the evening, but were never able to find another goal. Jackson Martinez struck again in the 82nd minute, James Rodriuez found Martinez with a through ball and Martinez cut back and finished with ease. Finally in the 90th minute James Rodriguez added a goal to his two assists, he ran onto a ball in space, danced around the defender and finished with a beautiful chip. He has been everything for Colombia and the 22 year olds stock is rising, definitely remember that name. Also in this match, backup keeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest player ever at the World Cup, earning a CAP at the age of 43.
Finally yesterday, C’ote D’Ivoire crashed out of the World Cup in the absolutely cruelest fashion, losing 2-1 to Greece. Didier Drogba did start the match for Les Elephants, but was substituted in the 78th minute. Greece opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Cheick Tiote squandered possession in midfield and Georgios Samaras led the counter attack which finished with Andreas Samaris slotting a shot into the back of the net. The Greeks held their lead well for over a half hour before Wilfried Bony struck in the 74th minute. Gervinho received a pass in the left side of the penalty area and passed along the floor to Bony who made no mistake with the finish. The draw would have been enough to see C’ote D’Ivoire through, but it was not meant to be for them. In the 91st minute, Giovanni Sio conceded a penalty by fouling Georgios Samaras in the area. Samaras then placed the penalty inches out of the outstretched hands of Boubacar Barry, giving the Greeks the win and their spot in the knockout stages. As always the Greeks seem to perform for only one match in the group and it was enough.
Before we get to our results from the weekend and upcoming matches for tonight, here’s a new trivia segment sponsored by Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs. They make a tons of great shirts and scarves and sent me their #Murica shirt, so you should check them out at www.ruffneckscarves.com orwww.whoareyadesigns.com . That brings us to our trivia question for the day which is: Who scored the fastest goal in World Cup history? If you think you know the answer, Tweet me @IamSchaffer, respond on the Full Time Football Facebook Page, or comment on the blog. We’ll select the winner from the correct responses and send them a gift card so they can pick up some new gear. If you don’t know the answer, still go to ruffneckscarves.com or whoareyadesigns.com and buy a shirt for yourself or the football fan in your life.
Pittsburghers stick together... and so does Pittsburgh's soccer community.
At tomorrow's watch party at Latitude 40 we are going to be running a raffle to collect funds for the memorial fund of Matt Hegeman. He was one of the climbers that was killed in the avalanche on Mount Rainer a few months back. We are doing this because he was a Pittsburgher, and was a fellow soccer player, playing at Baldwin High School in the 90s. So if you’re at Latitude 40 tomorrow watching the USA vs. Germany match please donate whatever you can. A link to their YouCaring page can be found in the show notes for today’s episode.
Samuel Eto’o continues to be one of football’s best humans, there’s a Youtube video of him leaving a facility and a child shouting his name. The same kid he gave a Cameroon jersey too previously, Eto’o hugged the kid and it was a really special moment. Both ended up shedding a few tears. Now I really don’t want Eto’o to leave Chelsea.
Barcelona and Real Sociedad have reached an agreement for goalkeeper Claudio Bravo which will see him playing at the Camp Nou next season.
Upcoming matches for tonight:
Sky Blue FC takes on the Portland Thorns tonight at 10PM
World Cup matches kick off today at noon, featuring Bosnia-Herzegovina taking on Iran and Nigeria facing Argentina. As it stands, Nigeria and Argentina are going through. If Iran can manage a win and overcome the goal differential, they can overtake Nigeria and qualify for the knockout stages.
In our second round of World Cup matches at 4PM, Ecuador takes on France and Honduras will face Switzerland. Switzerland can go through with a draw and win from this match and an Ecaudor loss against France.