Another day of World Cup action meant another day of eyebrow-raising results as the knockout stage begins to take shape on Day 9.
The day featured three fixtures, with two playing a major role in how Group E turns out. In easily the most shocking result of the day, it is Costa Rica who is now a near-lock to emerge from the group victorious. Here's a look at the results from all three matches:
|Group||Team 1||Score||Team 2|
With each team in Group E now two matches into their World Cup campaigns, here's where each team stands as Day 10 approaches:
|2014 World Cup Group Tables|
Costa Rica Shocks Italy to Become Group E Favorite
Day 9 was kicked off by a result that only Vegas can really put into context. According to OddsShark, Costa Rica opened as an 8-1 underdog to defeat the powerhouse that is Italy.
As it turns out, Costa Rica apparently don't care about odds. The side followed up their impressive 3-1 showing against Uruguay with a 1-0 upset over Italy.
It wasn't the most action-packed game. As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the only goal came from a Bryan Ruiz header, his lone career World Cup goal:
Heading into the tournament with an almost nearly impossible draw, Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto talked about the confidence he had in his side to overcome the odds, via Goal.com:
Maybe there are a lot of people who didn't have faith in us because we were in the 'Group of Death.' But it’s the others who are dead and we’re going to the next round. Of course we want to win the next match now and I must ask my players to keep calm and play just as well. We knew that we could make history for Costa Rica and today we have done that. That’s what I told my players today – let’s change history.
Costa Rica has certainly already done what it set out to do in regards to making history. The side has guaranteed it will survive the group stage, but with the momentum they've accrued, one has to wonder just how far into the tournament they can go.
France Lights Up Switzerland
In 2010, a highly hyped France side collapsed in the group stage before their World Cup run ever got off the ground. The 2014 France side is not the 2010 version.
That much was made clear during France's 5-2 rout of the Swiss side.
The French opened up the match with an offensive blitz, scoring twice inside of 67 seconds. With a third goal at the 40-minute mark, they had officially exposed Switzerland's defense more than their last eight World Cup opponents combined, per WhoScored.com:
Highlighting the scoring in the second half for France was Karim Benzema. He upped his total goals for the tournament to three with this beautiful goal posted by Football Vines on Twitter:
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted a nice trend that French fans will hope is a sign of things to come:
With the French all but booked to go to the knockout round, this was clearly a statement victory that they will look to build on moving forward.
Ecuador Edges Honduras
The final fixture of the day wasn't really as much about a shocking result as it was about one player's ascension to stardom—Enner Valencia.
The 25-year-old took center stage as Ecuador rode his two goals to a 2-1 victory over Honduras.
The first of Valencia's impressive pair of goals was tweeted out by Bleacher Report UK:
However, the clutch performer wouldn't stop there. He proved he's capable of scoring with more than his feet as he headed in the second goal of the day that would put Ecuador up for good:
The win is not only sure to put Valencia on the map as a player, but will also be instrumental in taking Ecuador to the knockout stage. The win puts the side in the No. 2 spot in Group E.