The World Cup welcomed its first full day of action on Friday, beginning with Mexico obtaining a narrow victory over Cameroon.
After whetting our appetite with hosting Brazil scoring the tournament's first victory, the World Cup goes into full swing on Friday, with three matches occupying the schedule.
Mexico and Cameroon kicked off the action with a low-scoring contest featuring some controversial decisions. Spain and the Netherlands then face off before closing the day with Chile pitted against Australia.
Here's a look at Day 2's results with an early snapshot of the World Cup standings.
|2014 FIFA World Cup Standings|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||0|
Mexico 1, Cameroon 0
Mexico faced a tough test in their first match of the World Cup, but they survived with a 1-0 victory over Cameroon that was closer in score than reality.
A rainy day produced unenviable playing conditions for both sides in Brazil, leading to some sloppy play in the first half. Not helping matters was a slew of controversial officiating.
Mexico nearly garnered a much wider margin, but the officials took away two goals from Giovani Dos Santos due to offside infractions. The World Cup's Twitter page showed the second non-goal.
Stripping Santos of the earlier goal was also a questionable decision. A view courtesy of SB Nation suggests that no Mexico players were offsides.
At the 61st minute, Oribe Peralta broke the scoreless stalemate, a score nobody disputed, to hand El Tri a lead they would not squander.
Cameroon made a last-second effort to earn a draw, but Guillermo Ochoa dived to corral his only save of the match during extra time. Mexico had a golden opportunity to boost their goal tally shortly after, but Javier Hernandez—who entered the match as a substitution after surprisingly not getting the starting nod—missed a clear look at the net on a header.
Before the tournament began, Hernandez told CNN's Nick Parker and Tom Sweetman that the club's sights are set past Group A, which is also occupied by Brazil and Croatia:
Our mind is on the final, really. I think every national team has the same possibilities to win the World Cup. It's a very short competition and anything could happen, so our goal is to get into the final and to try to win it. There's no point going to a competition and just thinking: 'We're just going to play three games.' That's not the point if you want to make history.
Brazil is the early odds-on favorite to win the crowd, but Croatia did not back down from them in their Thursday match. They'll present a tough challenge for Mexico when they meet on Monday, June 23.
Netherlands 5, Spain 1
In a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final, the Netherlands gained some vengeance on Spain, attaining a 5-1 victory to gain early control of Group B.
Spain, who entered the World Cup as the world’s top-ranked club, jumped out to an early lead after Xabi Alonso converted on a penalty kick. But from that point forward, the Dutch dominated the match to produce a statement win.
For their first score, Daley Blind directed the ball perfectly across the field to a waiting Robin van Persie, who leaped in the air to dart the ball through the left corner with a dazzling header.
Luckily for us, ESPN FC’s Twitter account has video of the incredible play.
Early in the second half, Blind gifted yet another pinpoint pass, this time to Arjen Robben. The forward circumvented two defenders before locating the net and awarding the Dutch a 2-1 edge.
The onslaught continued around the 65th minute. Stefan de Vrij barley connected on a header attempt right next to the net, but the ball still lazily rolled into the net as goalkeeper Iker Casillas whiffed on an attempt to deflect the cross.
Van Persie added another goal for good measure to seal the deal and establish the Netherlands as a force to be reckoned with throughout the World Cup. Their ferocious attack befuddled one of the world’s premier squads, which should leave fellow Group B inhabitants Australia and Chile quivering.
As for Spain, the reigning World Cup champions will have to shake off their shocking rout to make it through the group stage. For a team with lofty title aspirations, that would provide a stunning early exit.
Per ESPN FC, this represents Spain's worst World Cup performance on the defensive side in 64 years.
The Netherlands send their regards.
Chile 3, Australia 1
On the strength of two early goals earned two minutes apart, Chile picked up a pivotal 3-1 victory over Group B cohort Australia
Twelve minutes into the contest, Alexis Sanchez put Chile on the board with the help of a well-placed header from Eduardo Vargas. ESPN posted a video of the opening goal on Twitter.
Jut two minutes later, Chile found the net once again. This time Sanchez set up Jorge Valdivia for another quick score. They could not, however, follow in the Dutch's footsteps and pound their opponent into submission.
Australia would not relinquish another goal throughout the match. Despite only controlling possession for 34 percent of the bout, they tallied more shot attempts, including a goal from Tim Cahill during the opening half.
Chile looked poised to expand their lead, but Alex Wilkinson ran into the picture to make a running save at the last possible moment.
That was the highlight play, but he offered stellar protection around the box throughout the match. ESPN Stats & Info charted his contributions close to the net.
Entering their fixture, Chile figured to be a much bigger threat to advance past Group B. While they're even with Netherlands at three points, the Dutch have two more goals to their credit and a victory over a perennial contender.
That contender will be hungry for redemption against Chile and Australia, creating a difficult path to both of those squads making it through group play.
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