Each day of the 2014 World Cup has brought more excitement and unpredictability than the last, and Day 3 lived up to that in a big way.
Friday included defending champion Spain going down 5-1 to Netherlands and a convincing Mexico victory over Cameroon, but Saturday brought action to a whole new level. There were four matches on the slate, and it became apparent early on that it was going to be a special day of football.
Let's break down all of the results and how they impacted the group standings after Day 3.
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Day 3 Results
Colombia 3-0 Greece
Even without Radamel Falcao at the helm of the attack, Colombia entered the tournament as the favorite to win a weak Group C. Its performance in its opener Saturday validated that in a big way.
Colombia jumped out in front early against Greece and didn't look back, proving to be no less dangerous without its star striker in a 3-0 victory to open up its action in Brazil with a dominating performance.
Pablo Armero got the Colombians in front early in the fifth minute when his attempt trickled into the net, and they added another in the 58th minute off the foot of Teofilo Gutierrez.
Then, as ESPN's SportsCenter noted, James Rodriguez's goal was the icing on the cake:
And it's all over! James Rodríguez finds the goal moments before the final whistle and Colombia beats Greece, 3-0. pic.twitter.com/3oB7fc79mB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 14, 2014
Greece had its chances, matching Colombia with 12 shots and putting seven on target. But even though it also led in possession, Colombia was just too strong and too talented to allow Greece any quality opportunities.
With Ivory Coast and Japan rounding out the group, there are still chances for Greece to right the ship. But for now, Colombia looks to be cruising in Group C.
Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica
Netherlands toppling Spain was huge, but Costa Rica pulled the upset of the 2014 World Cup so far on Saturday with a dominating second-half performance, beating Uruguay 3-1.
Uruguay decided to sit star attacker Luis Suarez for the match, as he's still getting back to full fitness, but it didn't seem to miss him early on. The Uruguayans were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute, and Edinson Cavani swiftly put it into the bottom-right corner to give his side the 1-0 lead.
That would be the score at the halftime break, but the Costa Ricans quickly broke through in the final frame. Joel Campbell put a brilliant strike past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the 54th minute, and three minutes later, Oscar Durante connected on a header to make it 2-1.
A third goal in the 84th minute put the finishing touch on the victory for Costa Rica, and it became the third team to show resiliency thus far in Brazil, per ESPN Stats & Information:
Costa Rica is the 3rd team to win at 2014 World Cup after conceding 1st goal; that happened 3 times in the entire 2010 World Cup— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2014
The result could prove deadly for Uruguay's chances of advancing in the group. Obviously, one loss can't eliminate a team, but England and Italy are ahead, and that could doom the 2010 semifinalist.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica has to be feeling invigorated heading into two matches against European giants.
England 1-2 Italy
One of the big early matches of the group stage did not disappoint, with two elite nations going back and forth in exciting fashion. But Italy was superior, and it ended up that way on the scoreline with a 2-1 win over England.
Didn't catch the final score above? Just let Mario Balotelli tell you again himself, per Bleacher Report UK:
Balotelli proved to be the difference in the match. With the score tied at 1-1 heading into the second half, Antonio Candreva broke into the corner of the pitch and sent one toward the far post. Balotelli was waiting and skied up from the left side of the six-yard box to put in the game-winner.
Before that, the English showed a great deal of resiliency to tie things up. Just two minutes after Italy's Claudio Marchisio put his side in front with a screamer in the 35th minute, Daniel Sturridge answered right back to tie things up after finishing a Wayne Rooney cross.
In the end, it proved not to be enough. Italy held a 55 percent possession advantage and had the quality chances when they came about. Meanwhile, England was patiently searching for an equalizer throughout the second half, but Italy's defense was quick to cut out any serious attempt.
After seeing Costa Rica shock Uruguay in Saturday's other Group D affair, both sides have to be feeling like anything is possible heading into matches against both of them. The English can hope to take down a demoralized Uruguay squad in their next match, while Italy know that it has work to do against Costa Rica to take sole possession of the group lead.
Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan
For much of Saturday's nightcap between Japan and Ivory Coast, the Japanese were in front thanks to an early strike from Keisuke Honda.
Then Didier Drogba arrived.
Drogba didn't score or assist, but within four minutes of him substituting on, the Ivory Coast had scored two goals to pull in front for good in a 2-1 victory.
Things didn't start out rosy for Ivory Coast. Instead, it was Japan that struck first in the 16th minute. After controlling the pace for the opening minutes, Japan scored when Honda got the ball near the top of the box. He finished high toward the near post to put the Japanese up 1-0.
Once Drogba was inserted, though, things changed in a hurry. He won a free kick immediately upon entering, and a minute later, Wilfried Bony equalized off a cross from Serge Aurier.
Two minutes later, the winner came. Again, it was Aurier crossing into the box, but this time, Gervinho finished with the header to put the Ivory Coast up for the rest of the match.
This stat from ESPN Stats & Info summed up just how successful Ivory Coast was with crosses:
Japan has to be pleased with its performance for the first half, but things came unraveled in an instant. It'll have to recover quick with upcoming matches against Colombia and Greece in Group C.
Meanwhile, the win was certainly sweet for Ivory Coast as it looks to advance out of the group stage after two straight disappointing group-stage exits in the World Cup.
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