World Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from Day 3
With the 2014 FIFA World Cup well underway now, Day 3 offered us no less than four games, two groups and eight nations to assess and get excited about.
Colombia got the day off to a colourful start with a 3-0 win over Greece, before Costa Rica pulled off the shock of the tournament so far by beating Uruguay 3-1. Italy then saw off the challenge of England to win 2-1 in a tight match in Group D. The final match of the day saw Ivory Coast mount a 2-1 comeback win over Japan.
Here are all the biggest winners and losers from Day 3.
Winner: Teofilo Gutierrez
All eyes were on the Colombia lineup to see who would get the nod to play as No. 9 in the absence of Radamel Falcao. Teofilo Gutierrez ended up being the man asked to lead the line ahead of Jackson Martinez or Carlos Bacca, with Victor Ibarbo handed a starting spot on the wing instead of as a second striker.
The River Plate forward worked hard off the ball, dropped deep to aid linkup play and was always in support for Colombia's favoured quick turnovers. He also netted a close-range goal to put his squad two goals up on Greece.
Teo is the only man on the Colombia squad to have reached double figures in international goals, and he certainly didn't let anybody down.
Loser: Fernando Santos
Greece boss Fernando Santos sets his team up to be hard to beat, defensively sound and to move forward with their front three when possible—and when it seems largely risk-free.
All that went out the window after five minutes when they fell behind against Colombia. Greece didn't have an answer to that situation, despite enjoying more possession in the second half.
The only creativity they found was in Georgios Samaras' infrequent meanderings infield; otherwise, Greece relied on deep crosses and diagonal, long balls to penetrate Colombia's defensive line. It was a poor showing overall from the Greeks.
Winner: The Officials
Wahey! Referees have been taking a heap of criticism for some very dodgy decisions during the first two days, but Day 3 was much better.
In the Uruguay vs. Costa Rica match, there were handball shouts for the latter side—but the ref correctly spotted that Diego Lugano had been pushed. At the other end, he then handled the ball again and a penalty was signalled, leading to initial criticism of the ref—except replays showed that once again Lugano had been fouled first.
The penalty was the right call, though there were question marks over Costa Rica's second goal in the game.
Later on, England vs. Italy was almost perfectly officiated, with a couple of penalty calls rightly turned down. Oh, and that penalty claim by Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure? Also not a foul, which was well-seen by the ref.
Loser: Uruguay's Entire Defence
This was supposed to be a game where Uruguay would comfortably be able to take three points to get their tournament off to a good start, but they were sluggish and unadventurous in attack against Costa Rica and largely unimpressive in defence.
By far their worst aspect was in defending set pieces, which was a surprise, given the organised nature of their team and the forceful centre-backs at their disposal.
Neither Diego Godin nor Diego Lugano managed to get any kind of aerial dominance going, while others let their markers run free. The winning goal came from a free kick delivered to the far post.
Oh, and right-back Maxi Pereira will miss their second group game after he was sent off late on for a vicious kick on Joel Campbell.
Winner: Costa Rica
A terrifically disciplined performance from Costa Rica in the first half saw them concede possession, but they were not really threatened by a Uruguay side that only led via a penalty.
After the break, Costa Rica became more adventurous with their direct passing to Joel Campbell, while their quick-fire two goals saw them grow in stature, control the game well and take a huge three points in the group.
Not many people backed them to do well, but they gave Uruguay at least a massive headache in trying to qualify.
Loser: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney is consistently in the English press over his involvement in the national side, having failed to make a big impact at a World Cup yet. Plenty of pundits mentioned he needed to have a say in England's game against Italy, but he disappointed there.
True, he claimed the assist for Daniel Sturridge's equalising goal, but aside from that, it was a long, frustrating night for the No. 10.
He missed a great chance to score, didn't do his defensive work well at all down the left and sent a corner straight out of play. He had a poor night all round.
Winner: Italy (Not Just for Points, But for Controlling Group D Early On)
With Costa Rica beating Uruguay earlier on Saturday, a win for Italy puts them level with the CONCACAF side at the top. Those two sides meet in Group D next time out, and Italy will naturally be expected to win—granted, in fairness, so were Uruguay.
A win for Italy in their second game will essentially see them through to the knockouts, barring disaster, leaving them able to rest players if needed for the last fixture.
The win over England was a big one for the Italians.
Loser: Gary Lewin
Physios are a vital part of any team's set-up these days, but England will be without the head of the department for the rest of the World Cup.
Team doctor Gary Lewin jumped up celebrating England's goal against Italy and landed on a water bottle, dislocating his ankle in the process, per the BBC.
Winner: Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier showed great power and athleticism all game long down the right flank for Ivory Coast against Japan, with the right-back being a constant outlet for the African side.
His delivery in the first half was excellent, as the Japanese defence afforded him too much space to whip balls over. In the second 45 minutes, he ramped it up from "excellent" to "telling," claiming two assists in two minutes with his crosses.
Loser: Alberto Zaccheroni
Japan were hugely underwhelming against Ivory Coast, surrendering an early lead to lose 2-1 by full-time.
Despite a fairly comfortable approach to the game with their passing and movement early on and some shoddy finishing by their opponents leaving them ahead at the break, Japan lacked their usual fluidity and creativity.
That, coupled with their habit of conceding chances, proved to be their downfall, which will make it very difficult for them to come back and progress from the group stage.
Zaccheroni didn't do enough to change it during the match, and his team couldn't react to the situation of being behind—a poor all-round game for the Japanese.