The 10 Best Moments from Day 12 of the World Cup

1. Player Of The Day

You can go on about this not being a vintage Brazil side if you want, and you can endlessly compare him to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if you like, but the fact is that Neymar is the Brazilian in a Brazilian World Cup.

Of course he’s going to come up short if you constantly mention him in the same sentences as some of the greatest footballers to ever play the game, but this country and this tournament is all the better for Neymar, a player who cast a vibrant, violent spell over the first half against Cameroon in Brasilia.

He was brilliant. You couldn’t not watch him.

2. How Not To Make Friends In Brasilia Of The Day

Cameroon’s Allan Nyom. It was the closest anyone in a green shirt got to Neymar all night.

3. Old Timer Of The Day

Rafael Marquez, who scored Mexico’s crucial opener in the 3-1 win over Croatia.

Having set a record for captaining his country at four World Cups, the 35-year-old defender has now scored at the last three, having been sent off in his first one in 2002. He gets better with age.

4. After The Horse Has Bolted Of The Day

David Villa didn’t play a minute of Spain’s disastrous first two matches of the tournament against the Netherlands and Chile, with Diego Costa preferred upfront. Can you imagine Costa producing the sort of silky finish that Villa displayed against Australia though? Shame it was meaningless.

5. End Of An Era Of The Day

Joking aside, Villa ended his international career in Curitiba when he was replaced by Juan Mata in the 57th minute of the 3-0 win over Australia.

His substitution brought the curtain down on a remarkable stint which saw Spain’s all-time record goalscorer hit 59 goals in 97 appearances, playing his part in one of the greatest international sides of all-time and winning two European Championships and one World Cup.

He left the international stage kissing his badge, and you certainly knew he meant it.

6. Outfield Player Making A Save Of The Day

Croatia’s Darijo Srna does goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa’s job for him against Mexico. Javier Hernandez notices.

7. Left Wing-Back Of The Day

Maybe it was just a natural progression in a career which has seen him go from a prolific goalscorer to the hard-working midfielder’s hard-working midfielder, but there was something a little curious about Dirk Kuyt’s appearance as the left wing-back in the Netherlands’ defence in the win over Chile.

Typcially, the 33-year-old turned in an obdurate display, and even if we don’t see him again for the rest of the tournament it’s good to know that a manager of Louis van Gaal’s calibre still rates him.

Patrice Evra will be relieved he’s signed a new Manchester United contract…

8. Manager’s Celebrations Of The Day

Mexico’s Miguel Herrera. I mean, look at him. You want to score a goal for him now don’t you?

9. World Cup Debutant Of The Day

Step forward Leroy Fer, who managed to show more attacking intent in two minutes on the pitch than Wesley Sneijder had in the previous 75.

The Dutch substitute thundered home a header just seconds into his World Cup debut to give the Netherlands a crucial lead over Chile.

10. Brazil’s Unsung Hero Of The Day

Luiz Gustavo did brilliantly for Neymar’s first goal in Brasilia, but it was the introduction of Manchester City’s Fernandinho which settled nerves and ultimately proved crucial as he scored the fourth goal which effectively secured top spot in the group and a second round game against Chile.

That is a game that Fernandinho should be starting.


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