World Cup fans were treated to a trio of thrilling matches Tuesday, as a dark-horse contender had to emerge from early trouble against a serious underdog, the host country failed to score a goal and South Korea and Russia battled to a 1-1 draw.
With all that in mind, take a look at the outcomes from Tuesday’s action.
Belgium 2, Algeria 1
Talk about tactical substitutions.
Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens entered the game for Belgium and spearheaded a comeback effort after they got off to a disappointing start. Many see Belgium as possible contenders to advance deep into this tournament, so the struggles with Algeria and the initial 1-0 were alarming to say the least.
Still, Fellaini’s incredible header and then Mertens' shot served as the two goals the favorites needed to pick up a critical three points Tuesday. They overcame a Sofiane Feghouli penalty in the first half that put Algeria up 1-0.
Clearly, Belgium would have preferred a better showing early, but the game-changing presence off the bench of a couple scorers will help going forward. So will the three points.
Brazil 0, Mexico 0
Sometimes elite athletes simply enter a zone where it appears they can do anything, and that is exactly what it was like watching Mexico goalie Guillermo Ochoa Tuesday.
Mexico controlled much of the early possession, but Brazil turned up the intensity and the attack down the stretch. The hosts peppered the goal with shot attempts throughout the last 20 minutes, but Ochoa turned every single attempt away. Not even the amazing Neymar could crack him.
It is worth noting that Brazil played without injured striker Hulk.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari commented on Ochoa’s performance, via ESPN FC:
I did not like their goalkeeper. He was really spectacular, he did a great job, he was calm and confident on the pitch -- he was the man of the match...
We had chances but they had a very good goalkeeper who did a marvelous job.
Mexico and Brazil are tied atop Group A with four points, but Brazil hold the advantage on goal differential.
South Korea 1, Russia 1
Safe to say, Russia goalie Igor Akinfeev is thanking teammate Aleksandr Kerzhakov for the equalizer he scored a mere six minutes after Akinfeev almost cost his team the World Cup opener.
Akinfeev had issues gathering shots throughout the second half, and he finally dropped one into the net when Lee Keun-ho let rip from long range. After such an uninspiring first half, it looked as if Russia were heading to defeat.
Kerzhakov provided a sense of relief for Russia fans everywhere, though, when he tied the game with what proved to be the final goal.
Now that we know what the scores look like from Tuesday, let's take a glance at the updated standings for each group:
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Wednesday Game To Watch
Spain vs. Chile
Spain won the 2010 World Cup, but if the defending champs don’t come away with a win Wednesday, there is a very realistic possibility they will fail to emerge from group play after getting embarrassed by Netherlands in the opener.
Despite the high stakes for Spain, ESPN FC’s Rob Train and Angus McNeice painted the picture of this game from Chile’s point of view:
As was the case in 2010, Chile go into a group stage showdown on Wednesday with the ability to end Spain's World Cup campaign, though this time around there is so much more at stake.
At the previous World Cup, Chile had effectively secured a spot in the round of 16 before defeat in Pretoria. This year, a loss to Spain at the Maracaná would put the pressure on against a frightening Dutch side while a win would see Chile through at the expense of the defending champion.
If Chile are going to shock Spain, they will need some help from their superstar, Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez scored and tallied an assist in their win against Australia and is Chile’s best chance to crack Spain’s typically strong and deep defense.
On the Spain side, a change may be in order after the loss to Netherlands. Perhaps Pedro will come into the starting lineup as a potential upgrade over David Silva as someone who can contribute on both ends of the pitch.
Whether Pedro plays or not, the thought here is that Spain will be playing with absolute desperation and tally the much-needed victory. With so much talent and depth across the field, it is nearly impossible to imagine the defending champs being virtually eliminated through two games.
The defense will be much more up to the task against a young and athletic Chile team, and Spain will tally a timely goal in the second half.
Prediction: Spain 1, Chile 0
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