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World Cupstart Review: Day 4

Lionel Messi stamped his name on the 2014 World Cup in Day 4's action and Riley Beveridge has it all covered in his review.

Grumbles were abound and frustration was starting to kick in around the Maracana.

Lionel Messi had just blasted a 25-yard free kick well over the bar and for the first time in the tournament, it appeared fans were beginning to lose faith in a gifted player who had always been a divisive figure back in Argentina.

But less than two minutes later and all was forgotten. Receiving the ball on halfway, Messi drove at the Bosnian defence, played a quick one-two with Gonzalo Higuain, stepped around a further challenge and placed a pinpoint effort in off the post.

All of a sudden, the world was at the feet of this incredible talent once again.

Messi has never won over the Argentinean faithful quite like he has with those around the globe. His record at international level and, in particular at World Cup’s, is a strong reason for this.

Just one goal from eight matches on the biggest stage, prior to 2014, hasn’t given the 26-year-old a Diego Maradona-like status in the South American nation.

But in the first World Cup match played at the hallowed Maracana since the infamous Maracanazo in 1950, Messi lit up football’s centrepiece in a typically breathtaking way.

His goal doubled the Argentine advantage following a third-minute own goal from Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac. However prior to Messi scoring the second, he had been a peripheral figure on the match.

Instead it was Bosnia and Herzegovina, making their World Cup debut, who were creating the headlines. Their gallant display, led by influential midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic, was arguably deserving of a point at the very least.

Substitute Vedad Ibisevic garnered hopes of a comeback with a late goal, but ultimately Argentina was too strong. Nevertheless, the signs are good for Safet Susic’s men.

Earlier in the day, France’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over 10-man Honduras was tinged with the slightest bit of controversy, but also a massive justification for goal line technology.

Karim Benzema’s penalty on the stroke of half time had given the French the lead, but it was the second goal – credited as an own goal to Honduran ‘keeper Noel Valladares – which had everyone talking.

Benzema had side-footed an effort against the post before Valladares inadvertently tipped the rebound over the line. A goal, as alerted to by ‘GoalControl’, had been awarded by Brazilian referee Sandro Meira Ricci.

However when the replay was first flashed on the screen at Estadio Beira-Rio, it only showed the first shot that had crashed against the post. On that occasion, the ball clearly hadn’t crossed the line.

But it was the spill from Valladares that had taken the ball over. Eventually, replays of that emerged and the boo’s that had rung around Porto Alegre began to be silenced.

Goal line technology had worked. Unfortunately, those controlling which replays were shown first inside the stadium had caused a massive misunderstanding.

Benzema would later seal the rout with a fine near-post finish.

Switzerland also recorded their first victory of the tournament, defeating Ecuador 2-1 with a stoppage-time winner from Haris Seferovic.

The Swiss had gone behind through Enner Valencia, but equalised early in the second half when substitute Admir Mehmedi turned home a close-range header.

Fellow substitute Seferovic then secured a dramatic victory in the third minute of added time, turning home Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross.

  • Tweet of the Day
  • Decision of the Day

While goal line technology may have stolen the headlines, Uzbekistan referee Ravshan Irmatov was the man who made the best decision on Day 4. His call to allow advantage for a foul on Valon Behrami resulted in Switzerland breaking forward and scoring their late winner against Ecuador. It was a perfect decision and showed a wonderful reading of the play.

  • Clearance of the Day

It’s not too often you see a defender attempt a rabona on the edge of his own six-yard box, but then again this 2014 World Cup has everything. Under immense pressure and holding only a slender 1-0 lead at the time, Argentine defender Marcos Rojo cleared his lines in a way teammate Lionel Messi would have been proud of.

  • Player of the Day

He was unlucky not to have been awarded a hat-trick, but French striker Karim Benzema dispelled any doubts about his ability to perform on the big stage with a tremendous outing against Honduras. Two goals and a large hand in the other cemented his spot as the No.1 centre forward in Didier Deschamps’s side.

  • Tomorrow’s Schedule

Another ‘Group of Death’ kicks off when World No.2 Germany takes on World No.4 Portugal in Salvador. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Robin van Persie, Andrea Pirlo and Karim Benzema have begun the World Cup with a bang – now it’s over to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iran then faces Nigeria in a battle of the footballing minnows in Curitiba. However with Bosnia losing to Argentina, it represents the perfect chance for one to stake their claim in Group F.

Ghana then plays the USA in another highly-anticipated encounter in Natal to conclude the day’s matches.


Riley Beveridge is a third-year Bachelor of Sport Journalism student at La Trobe University and is the editor of upstart’s Sport and World Cup department. You can follow him on Twitter: @RileyBev.

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