Following two shocking days of play in Brazil on Friday and Saturday, Day 4 went slightly more to script.
The 2014 World Cup has already seen the defending champion in Spain crushed by the Netherlands along with Costa Rica overcoming the odds to down Uruguay. With Argentina rolling out for the first time on Sunday night, there was yet another chance for a huge upset.
ESPN gave a snapshot of just how important the day was for Lionel Messi, one of the biggest stars in soccer:
Today’s World Cup schedule can be defined in one word: Messi. pic.twitter.com/oTOAby1c5T— ESPN (@espn) June 15, 2014
It was time for Groups E and F to take the pitch, with storied teams such as 1998 World Cup winner France and two-time champion Argentina playing their opening match. Here are updated group standings and more scores from Day 4.
Day 4 Breakdown
Sunday morning started much like the rest of the tournament so far with a spectacular comeback for Switzerland.
The Swiss were down 1-0 in the first half but mounted a huge second-half surge to win their opening match. Haris Seferovic came up huge for Switzerland in stoppage time with a late goal, as the 2014 World Cup account notes:
Haris Seferovic scores in stoppage time! | https://t.co/YI8vjEm5EM— 2014 World Cup (@2014WorIdCup) June 15, 2014
Seferovic's goal helped avoid the first draw of the tournament, as every match to this point has seen a decision. It also marked the fifth come-from-behind victory during the World Cup through just four days in the group round.
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld spoke about the huge victory, per FIFA.com:
We've done it, and that's unbelievable. We never stopped believing in ourselves. By the end we were having a few problems with the altitude 1,100 meters above sea level; the Ecuadorians had a lot more running left in them than us. I'm extremely happy with the three points and it means it's a good start.
ESPN Stats & Info also notes the history behind the stoppage-time tally for Seferovic:
Following the Swiss' charge for the win, France came away with a decisive victory on the foot of Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid player notched two goals in the win, with the second coming on a powerful strike from the right side of the pitch. SportsCenter provides a look at the final goal for the 26-year-old forward:
LES BLEUS! France opens World Cup with dominant 3-0 win. Karim Benzema scores 2 goals including this beauty! » http://t.co/9VNAfI17PW— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 15, 2014
Outside of Benzema's brilliant performance, the other story coming out of the 3-0 win for France was the goal-line technology finally getting some work in. The system ultimately allowed a goal for the French, awarding an own goal from the Honduras keeper.
Jonathan Pearce of the BBC was somewhat befuddled by the technology, as seen in this Vine following the goal:
Ultimately, it was called a goal despite Pearce's best attempts to prove otherwise.
The final match of the day was the most anticipated, with Argentina and Messi finally taking the stage. Even with all of the outstanding offensive players for the Argentinians, Bosnia-Herzegovina made it easy for Argentina.
Sead Kolasinac had an unfortunate bounce hit off him and into his own net, scoring the second own goal of the day. After one own goal in the opening round and another earlier to benefit France, three goals have been scored by the defense.
It wasn't all bad for Kolasinac, though, as he would go down in the World Cup record books, per Paul Carr of ESPN:
Sead Kolasinac has scored the fastest own goal in #WorldCup history (3').— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 15, 2014
OK, so maybe it's not the type of record Kolasinac intended on breaking, but it's a record nonetheless.
As for the man everyone was waiting to see, Messi didn't quite have a strong showing in the first half. Argentina's lead man came away empty on scoring opportunities and already leads all other players in one statistic, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Things got much better for the Argentinian in the second half. Messi scored on a beautiful touch after evading two defenders to give his country a decisive lead.
Bosnia-Herzegovina would score later in the match to lose 2-1 in the opener, but all the talk following the decision was Messi's goal. Chris Fowler of ESPN passes along an image of Messi's brilliant strike:
Following an eventful Day 4 in Brazil, Monday's action promises to yet again bring plenty of excitement. With No. 4 Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo set to battle No. 2 Germany at 12 p.m. ET, Ghana and the United States will continue play in Group G at 6 p.m. ET.
Despite recent health issues, Ronaldo said he will be ready to play against Germany, per The Associated Press (via USA Today):
I would be the first to tell the coach if I were unable to play, I would never put my career at risk even for a World Cup. I'd love to be 110 percent and but I am 100 percent and that is enough to help my team. ... Obviously I wish I did not have any pain, but that is impossible. I don't think there's ever been a day without pain.
With Ronaldo on the pitch, anything is possible. But for a Germany squad that looks like the most complete team in the tournament, Portugal needs perfection to break the current three-match losing streak against the Germans.
The U.S. already has a daunting task ahead with both Portugal and Germany, but coming away with three points against Ghana would make a massive statement. After being eliminated in the last two World Cups by the Black Stars, a win would give the team confidence moving forward.
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