With eight seeds decided on Tuesday in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, Day 14 of the tournament brings two of the most exciting countries back to the pitch to secure their seed in the knockout stage.
Argentina, equipped with four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, were ready to take the No. 1 seed in Group F with a win. France, who play later today, have essentially already clinched a berth in the knockout stages but hope to unleash Karim Benzema yet again, as he has notched three goals and two assists already.
Two other countries will advance on Wednesday, as only one day remains in the group stage. While USA fans are eagerly awaiting the matchup with Germany on Thursday, here's a look at the action so far on Day 14 of the World Cup.
|Group||Team 1||Result/Time (ET)||Team 2|
Day 14 Results
Argentina 3, Nigeria 2
After scoring two goals through the first two matches in Brazil, Messi wasted no time in the third contest.
In the third minute, Messi struck with a beautiful goal that put Argentina ahead early. It was a historic goal for the man who has accomplished nearly everything on the pitch, as Opta Sports noted:
Almost immediately after Messi and his teammates finished celebrating, the game took yet another turn. Ahmed Musa, who was shut out in the first two matches, would not be denied as he alluded a defender for his first goal of the World Cup in the fourth minute.
Musa knotted up the match at 1-1, but that score wouldn't hold for the entire half. It was Messi again who put the Argentinians up just before the half, putting him in elite company this World Cup, per Numbers Never Lie:
Players to score 2 World Cup goals in 1st half of 1 game: -Müller -Neymar -Messi 0 players did that in '10 World Cup pic.twitter.com/SNXSvBa7tf— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) June 25, 2014
Following Messi's goal, Musa wouldn't be outdone. The Nigerian struck again in the 47th minute with the equalizer and secured a place in his country's record books, per ESPN Stats & Info and BBC Sport:
How far will Argentina make it?
Unfortunately, Musa's goal would be trumped just three minutes later by Argentina.
Marcos Rojo found the back of the net for his first goal of the 2014 World Cup, securing the victory for Argentina. Coming in as the heavy favorites, Argentina are now the No. 1 seed out of the group and will play the No. 2 club from Group E.
Not all is lost for Nigeria though, as they'll advance to the knockout stage despite the loss. As the only country outside of Argentina with a win and a draw, the Nigerians secured a berth to likely face France in the round of 16.
Needless to say, that leaves them with slim hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals. But with the scoring ability of Musa finally shining through, anything is possible for Nigeria.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3, Iran 1
Coming into the match, Iran needed a win and to overtake Nigeria in goal differential to advance. They would get neither and are thus heading home along with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bosnia-Herzegovina got off to a hot start, as Edin Dzeko shocked Iran with a goal in the 23rd minute. Dzeko's strike found its way through multiple defenders as he put his country up for good in the first half, per Bleacher Report UK:
The Dragons' official Twitter account broke down the goal from Dzeko:
Edin Dzeko's goal was with the weaker foot, from outside the box. It hit the post and then went in, nothing the goalie could do.— BHDragons (@BH_Dragons) June 25, 2014
After several efforts by Iran to bring the match to 1-1, Miralem Pjanic lengthened the lead for the Dragons.
Pjanic's goal came on a beautiful ball by Tino-Sven Susic, who split the defense to find the open midfielder. The strike essentially put away the Iranians, who would need a huge rebound to advance, as ESPN FC pointed out:
Iran would attempt to stage a comeback thanks to a goal from Reza Ghoochannejhad in the 82nd minute, but would see that effort squandered soon after.
Just after the celebration for Ghoochannejhad's strike, Avdija Vrsajevic secured his first goal of the World Cup to put away Iran for good. Bosnia-Herzegovina's Twitter account showed the celebration and took a shot at one of the most famous players in the sport:
Both countries saw their World Cup end on Wednesday, but the Dragons went out in style. After a three-goal effort, Bosnia-Herzegovina moved to third in the group and came away with more wins than England.
Switzerland 3, Honduras 0
After an early win over Ecuador in the group stage, Switzerland was still reeling from a 5-2 loss to France in the second match. All of those wounds were healed with a resounding win over Honduras on Wednesday as they advanced to the knockout stage.
Switzerland needed help coming into the match, with Ecuador either losing or drawing with France. Following a red card for Ecuador that left them a man down, they were unable to overtake France to advance.
The victory for the Swiss was all thanks to one man, Xherdan Shaqiri. Despite being shut down against both Ecuador and France, the Bayern Munich midfielder made a huge impact with a hat trick against Honduras, as Bleacher Report UK notes:
Shaqiri notched his first goal in the sixth minute and, just like Messi earlier in the day, struck once again in the 31st minute to secure two before the half. The final strike for Shaqiri came in the 71st minute to all but clinch the victory.
The midfielder's hat trick makes him the second in the tournament to do so, along with Thomas Mueller of Germany. ESPN FC notes just how rare the feat is by the two players at the World Cup:
Switzerland now advance to take on Argentina and Messi in the knockout stage. If Shaqiri brings the same attacking style he showed against Honduras, fans could be in for yet another offensive duel in the round of 16.
France 0, Ecuador 0
Coming into the final match of the group stage, Ecuador was dealt with a difficult task: Beat France to secure a berth into the round of 16.
Unfortunately, the club was unable to muster up a goal against the French and watched their dreams of advancing slip away. One of the biggest causes for the lack of punch by Ecuador in the match was a red card dealt to Antonio Valencia, as BBC Sport notes:
Ecuador were then down to 10 players for the remainder of the match after Valencia was sent off in the 50th minute. Despite a few opportunities to go up in the match, Ecuador struggled to take advantage and ultimately fell in their final match at the World Cup.
While it was Valencia's second red card in his last four matches with Ecuador, it was a first for the country on that stage, per ESPN Stats & Info:
France now advance as the No. 1 seed to take on Nigeria in the round of 16. Although Karim Benzema was unable to score another goal in the final match of the group stage, he will likely break out yet again with a must-win situation in the next round.
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