1. Golden Boot Dark Horse Of The Day
Ecuador’s Enner Valencia, who moved on to three goals for the tournament with his double strike in the entertaining if bruising 2-1 win over Honduras in Curitiba. Quick, direct and obviously able to finish, the 25-year-old Pachuca forward is making his agent a happy man.
2. Underdog Of The Day
How great were Costa Rica?
We’ve seen underdogs give the overdogs a kicking in this crazy tournament before, but there was something so composed and calculated about this 1-0 victory over Italy in Recife which made it such a joy to behold. The fact that a team spearheaded by a forward not considered good enough for Arsenal and another loaned out by relegated Fulham have knocked out England also added another eye-opening element. They were superb.
3. Penalty Follow-Up Of The Day
France were brilliant in their first half against Switzerland in Salvador, and they were so considerate to football fans that they even managed to fit in a bit of comedy too.
Karim Benzema saw his penalty saved by Switzerland’s Diego Benaglio, but then Yohan Cabaye somehow managed to fire the rebound against the crossbar from the grand total of about three inches. Merde.
4. Disappointed Monarch Of The Day
Her Maj would have been putting her lippy on as a concerned Prince Philip watched on, but Mario Balotelli’s hope that he’d get a kiss (obviously on the cheek) from the ‘UK Queen’ never came to pass.
Only an Italy win over Costa Rica would have saved England’s hopes in the competition, but Balotelli missed a glorious first half chance as the Italians lost to ensure they’ll now head into a winner-takes-all final match against Uruguay in Natal. Even the Queen should be watching that one.
5. Player Of The Day
Bryan Ruiz. The aforementioned Costa Rica captain who was considered to be not good enough for a team relegated from the Premier League this season was excellent during his 81 minutes on the pitch in Recife, surely the scene of one of the World Cup’s greatest ever shocks.
Italy are, after all, four times winners of the competition, whilst if Los Ticos were to put England out of their misery by inflicting another defeat on them in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, they’ll have beaten three World Cup winning nations in a row. Where do you go from there?
6. Ended Wait Of The Day
Honduras supporters had waited 32 years to see their team score a World Cup goal until Carlo Costly blasted them in front against Ecuador in Curitiba. Typically when you’ve waited so long for someone to deliver, it came at an awkward time and wasn’t really worth all the hassle. They lost 2-1.
7. Uncomfortable Spectator Of The Day
Franck Ribery was, we were told, the key to all of France’s hopes in this tournament, and the absence of the gifted midfielder through injury was going to lead to a French farce on par with what we saw in South Africa four years ago. Obviously no-one informed the team.
After the impressive win over Honduras came this first-half overwhelming of Switzerland, a display that would have been witnessed by at least one uncomfortable Frenchman shifting in his chair in Munich.
8. Rejected Penalty Appeal Reaction Of The Day
Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto thought his team should have had a penalty against Italy. At least we think he did. It’s hard to tell.
9. Disallowed Goal Of The Day
Benzema thought he’d put the seal on France’s fine day with the brilliant goal which looked as though it had made it 6-2 against Switzerland, only to find out that referee Bjorn Kuipers had blown the whistle for full-time. Has the Dutchman got a bet on Robin van Persie or Arjen Robben for the Golden Boot? (I jest!)
10. Setting Your Stall Out Of The Day
“Right lads, get into them early and show them we mean business.” Honduras refuse to allow Ecuador time to settle in Curitiba.
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