The 2014 World Cup has been everything we've expected and more so far, and Monday's Day 5 of the tournament brought even more compelling action.
Play began last Thursday when Brazil took care of Croatia, 3-1. While that wasn't a surprising outcome, there have been several already in this World Cup.
Spain dropped their match against the Netherlands, 5-1, and Ivory Coast were able to outlast the speed and energy of Japan, 2-1.
Costa Rica surprisingly upset Uruguay, 3-1, as well. You can rest assured that there are more upsets to come in this great tournament. Will we see any on Day 5? Continue to check back here throughout the day.
Below you'll find updated group standings, as well as recaps of each match.
|2014 World Cup Group Standings|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||-1||1||0||0||1|
Day 5 Results
United States 2, Ghana 1
Approximately 90 minutes of no goals between Nigeria and Iran preceded this match, but the USA's Clint Dempsey gave fans something to cheer about in short order.
Dempsey skirted past multiple Ghana defenders and delivered a stupendous strike less than a minute into the match to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
But Ghana applied the pressure in the second half as the U.S. clung to a one-goal lead. The inexperienced backfield was eventually exposed when Andre Ayew scored the equalizer at 82' to tie the match at one.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated provided his take on Ayew's tying goal:
That set up John Brooks to explode into the American consciousness. The 21-year-old substitute became the first player in U.S. history to score off the bench in the World Cup, heading home the winner in the 86th minute to offer an immediate response to Ayew's heartbreak bid.
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap added an eery fun fact about Brooks, who had an apparent hunch that he'd score:
Being an exemplary team leader, it comes as no surprise that Dempsey focused on what his side could improve after the match, per the team's official Twitter account:
When it looked as though the Americans were destined for another underwhelming World Cup outing, Brooks provided hope on multiple counts. Everyone loves an underdog story, but he proved that there may be some unexplored depth on this USA team.
A strained hamstring injury knocked Jozy Altidore out of the game in the first half, helping create some of the circumstances that led to Brooks' brilliant breakthrough. Altidore is a big part of the American attack, though, and whether he's fit for the next match against Portugal will go a long way in determining how realistic it is for the U.S. to hope for another win.
Iran 0, Nigeria 0
Drawing at nil can still be exciting in world football, especially when teams are competing with extreme intensity in the World Cup. That wasn't the case on Monday when Iran and Nigeria squared off to open Group F play with one point each.
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kornberg had suspicions that the game wouldn't be heavy on entertainment:
Fox Sports soccer columnist Leander Schaerlaeckens weighed in on the unmoving situation unfolding on the pitch:
But given the plethora of scoring that has defined the early World Cup action, there was bound to be a match heavy on defending at some point. This fixture also marked the first draw of the tournament.
This isn't meant as an attempt to belittle football in Iran or Nigeria. There was just not much of note to report from this showdown.
Both sides could have had a more catastrophic start, but getting three points would have been huge in a bid to become the second team in the group aside from Argentina to advance. Now Iran are tasked with taking on the Group F favorites, while the Nigerians will seek to get three points in their meeting with Boznia and Herzegovina.
Nigeria figures to have a better chance at moving forward in the World Cup. Their attack must perform better in the next match in order to be in ideal position to get to the Round of 16.
Germany 4, Portugal 0
It was not a good day for Portugal. It was wonderful day for Germany.
In what was expected to be a contentious match right from the opening whistle, Germany ran away with a decisive 4-0 victory to take their place atop the tournament's strongest group.
Thomas Muller got the scoring started early for Germany. After Joao Pereira gave away a penalty for yanking Mario Gotze in the box, Muller netted from the spot in the 12th minute:
Mesut Ozil nearly made it 2-0 in the 31st minute before Pereira slid in to alter the course of the attempt.
Mats Hummels made up for it in the following minute, however, as he put a header into the back of the net off a corner kick.
Things then got interesting in the 37th minute, as Pepe, one of Portugal's top defenders, was given a red card for headbutting Muller:
That must have really got Muller going, because he went on to have a remarkable game. He scored again just before half-time to make it 3-0 in favour of Germany:
Muller then completed the hat trick in the 78th minute, following up a rebound inside the six-yard box:
The showing by Muller was impressive, but Germany were stellar as a whole. They were able to hold off Portugal's attack and keep the opposition's biggest stars in check.
ESPN FC's official Twitter account pointed out just how bad the loss was for Portugal:
The match was equally as great for Germany, as Paul Carr of ESPN tweeted:
This was not the opening to the World Cup that Portugal expected, but they must come back strong against the United States if they want to advance out of this group. Ghana and the United States aren't easy opponents, and Portugal's failure to at least draw with Germany may come back to haunt them.
Now that the USA has secured three points, Portugal is in even more trouble. With their massive goal differential deficit and the confdience the Americans have generated in topping Ghana, there is a good chance the U.S. remains ahead of Portugal and advances to the knockout stage.
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