World Cup 2014: Ranking the Matches from 2nd Round Stage on Excitement

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

World Cup 2014: Ranking the Matches from 2nd Round Stage on Excitement

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    Well, that was enjoyable! The round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup certainly kept up with the entertainment provided to football fans around the globe in the group stages.

    Two penalty shootouts, five extra-time matches, goals galore, stunning saves and hardly a controversial moment in sight. The eight matches in the second round were a football feast, excitement was not in short supply.

    For the first time in World Cup history, the eight matches were all won by the group winners, but there were certainly some heroic performances from underdogs along the way.

    With two days without action now until the quarter-finals begin, we rank the eight matches of the second round in terms of excitement. 

    Have a look then let us know your thoughts in the comments.

8. Argentina 1-0 Switzerland (AET)

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    A pretty simple choice for the least exciting match is the anomaly of the eight; Argentina's extra-time victory over Switzerland in Sao Paolo.

    The match was eventually won by Angel Di Maria's goal on 118 minutes, with the midfielder having been hugely off form before his finish from Lionel Messi's pass.

    Switzerland's last shot on target in this game arrived on 50 minutes. The best chance they had saw young forward Josep Drmic produce an awful attempted chip over the goalkeeper.

    This game was a complete contrast to the rest of the last-16 matches.

7. France 2-0 Nigeria

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    A relatively straightforward victory for the French as they beat what was in all honesty a poor Nigerian side.

    It did, though, take two late goals to ensure victory, Paul Pogba heading home in the 79th minute and Joseph Yobo's own goal in stoppage time, giving Didier Deschamps' side a 2-0 victory.

    The French have hardly broken sweat so far in this tournament and will be fresh for their quarter-final against Germany.

6. Colombia 2-0 Uruguay

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    Colombia have produced some of the most entertaining moments of the World Cup so far and this game certainly saw one of them.

    James Rodriguez's stunning first goal is one of the greatest ever scored at a World Cup, and the second wasn't bad either, a well worked team goal.

    Uruguay were poor, devoid of their star man Luis Suarez, so this was a comfortable victory for Colombia. Can they upset the odds against Brazil in the quarter-final?

5. Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET)

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    All square at 0-0 after 90 minutes, all the action arrived in the 30 minutes of extra time.

    Goals from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil looked to have given Germany a comfortable victory but Algeria refused to go easily and produced a spirited finish to claim a consolation goal via Abdelmoumene Djabou.

    An admirable defeat for the underdog.

4. Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    A dramatic end saw Netherlands scrape past an impressive Mexico side courtesy of two goals in the final three minutes.

    Wesley Sneijder's finish on 88 minutes and Klaas Jan Huntelaar's penalty in stoppage time denied Mexico their first quarter final for 28 years.

    The match also saw one of the more controversial moments of the second round, with Arjen Robben's antics winning the penalty that saw Netherlands progress. The Dutch winger later admitted to having dived earlier in the match.

3. Costa Rica 1-1 Greece: Costa Rica Win 5-3 on Penalties

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press

    A 90th-minute equaliser, leading to extra time, followed by some of the best quality penalties in a penalty shootout you're likely to see.

    Costa Rica edged out a workmanlike Greece side to reach a World Cup quarter-final for the first time in their history and deservedly so.

    Bryan Ruiz had given the Central Americans the lead before Sokratis Papastathopoulos's injury-time equaliser.

    Costa Rica fought to hold the draw despite being down to 10 men for almost an hour after Oscar Duarte's red card.

    They then dispatched all five penalties expertly to send Greece home.

2. Belgium 2-1 USA (AET)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Ranking in second place is the final game of the second round, and what a game it was.

    Despite being 0-0 after 90 minutes, this was an entertaining match throughout; featuring a rather incredible 56 shots on goal across the 120 minutes.

    USA goalkeeper Tim Howard made a new World Cup record of 16 saves in the game, while the incredible reaction from Team USA to Belgium's two goals was breathless.

    Conceding two goals in the first-half of extra time would usually see a team sink, but USA responded, halving the deficit with Julian Green's very first touch at a World Cup, and they almost got the equaliser on several occasions.

    Ultimately, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku's goals sent the Belgians through and this was yet another heroic defeat for the underdog in the last 16.

1. Brazil 1-1 Chile (AET): Brazil Win 3-2 on Penalties

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    Andre Penner/Associated Press

    The first game of the second round saw host nation Brazil up against entertaining, hard working Chile.

    The match was eventually decided by a dramatic penalty shootout that saw goalkeeper Julio Cesar make two saves to send the hosts through to the quarter-finals.

    From the noise and colour of the crowd, to the dramatic action on the pitch, this was one of the most memorable games of the whole tournament.

    The weight of a nation on his shoulders, 22-year-old Neymar exhibited nerves of steel to coolly dispatch his crucial spot-kick. The relief upon the finish was evident for all.

    Chile, meanwhile, were unfortunate to be knocked out having pushed Brazil so far.