Saturday’s full day of soccer accomplished one thing: give us more, World Cup 2014, please.
Four games, 13 goals, no draws, only one team that didn’t score. It had nearly everything a fan could want.
Japan led for nearly 50 minutes in the night cap. But the Ivory Coast drew huge inspiration when 36-year-old Didier Drogba came off the bench in the 62nd minute. Four minutes later the Ivory Coast was on its way to a 2-1 victory. Goals two minutes apart from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho did in Japan.
Colombia kicked off the only four-match day of the tournament with a 3-0 win over Greece, getting that first goal just six minutes into the match (the fastest goal of this year’s tournament so far) and leading to this wild celebration thanks to Pablo Armero. (Side note: How many guys in Colombia are named Pablo?)
England vs. Italy lived up to its billing, as the Italians, missing captain and leader goalie Gianluigi Buffon due to injury, held off England late for a 2-1 win. The Three Lions couldn’t break down Italy in the last 15 minutes as the Azzurri loaded up defensively and dared England to attack.
England’s offense floundered in the Amazon heat, leading to mistakes like this embarrassing Wayne Rooney corner kick. (If you know where the ball landed please mail it back to Manaus.)
And then there was the shock of the day, maybe the shock of the tournament. Yes, even bigger than the Netherlands’ 5-1 win over Spain a day earlier.
Costa Rica, a team the US beat 1-0 in qualifying in that famous snow match in Commerce City, stunned the world, and more specifically Uruguay with a 3-1 victory. Los Ticos found themselves down 1-0 after 24 minutes. But Costa Rica showed no signs of fearing Uruguay, never sitting back defensively, always showing a desire to push forward. It paid off handsomely, as Los Ticos scored three times in the second half to beat a 2010 semifinalist and a hopeful to win this year’s title.
After that win and Italy’s win over England, Costa Rica, thought to be the only weak link in the group, is top of the table because of goal differential.
Through eight games in the first three days, only two teams have been shut out. Only one game has finished 1-0. There still hasn’t been a draw (fingers crossed that wasn’t a jinx). And Argentina, Germany and Belgium, teams who like to put up goals, have yet to play.
Yes, it’s early, but this tournament is turning out better than anyone could’ve hoped.