Football

World Cup 2014: Last 16 Round-up—Brazil’s Prayers are Answered and James Rodriguez Announces his Arrival onto the World Stage

Brazil 1-1 Chile (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties)

The first knock-out match at the 2014 World Cup took place in Belo Horizonte and went the distance with Brazil prevailing in dramatic fashion against Chile.

David Luiz had opened the scoring in the 18th minute although replays were not conclusive as to whether it was actually a Gonzalo Jara own-goal.

Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez scored the equaliser after he took advantage of some loose Brazilian defending.

Hulk thought he had put the Selecao 2-1 ahead but Howard Webb correctly ruled out his effort for handball. Brazil had more of the play but were sloppy in possession.

In extra-time, Chile were largely holding on but in the last-minute of the designated 30, their forward Panilla played a tight one-two and his vicious shot cannoned off the crossbar in what would have been a certain winner.

The 120 minutes elapsed with no further goals—the contest would be decided via spot-kicks. Numerous Brazilian players sank to their knees praying for divine assistance.

It arrived by the finest of margins as Jara missed Chile’s final penalty at 3-2. A centimetre further to the left and shoot-out would have advanced to sudden death. It was not to be as his effort ricochet off the post, across the goal and out of play. Brazil celebrated reaching the quarter-finals as if they had won the tournament.

Overall Brazil were decent value for their win but tougher assignments lie ahead, beginning with James Rodriguez and Colombia on Friday. Win that and Brazil will begin to believe that they could finally exorcise the ghosts of 1950.

 

Colombia 2-0 Uruguay

James Rodriguez’s sublime performance meant that his unfortunate team mates barely got a mention in this match.

Some have referenced Rodriguez’s exploits in this tournament as on a par with Diego Maradona in 1986 but that would be doing Colombia a huge injustice.

Make no mistake, Rodriguez’s first goal was all down to individual brilliance. A lofted pass was on route to the Colombian number 10 who had the acute awareness to quickly glance at his marker, analysing the space available. In true Sherlock Holmes style, micro-second calculations confirmed his anticipated play was on.

Upon the ball’s arrival, he chested it down and with exceptional technique struck a dipping volley from 25-yards which flew past Fernando Muslera via the underside of the crossbar.

The second goal of the match was superb team effort as the attacking play rapidly switched from right to left. Lively centre-forwards Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Gutierrez then interchanged their runs to pull the Uruguayan defence out of position.

A deep cross was sent over and Juan Cuadrado added to his previous three assists by heading back across goal, to the man of the moment, who swept home with his right foot—it took Rodriguez’s personal World Cup tally to five goals and two assists.

Rodriguez may be the hot topic in the mainstream media but his star status was born two years ago when his exploits in Primeira Liga resulted in the Player of the Year title in Portugal aged just 20 years old—the youngest to receive this accolade.

Last summer, he moved from Porto to Monaco for €45m but the club’s lack of Champions League football plus him playing in an evolving league rather than the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga or Serie A has meant the forward’s progress has relatively flown under the radar.

However, after last night’s volley at Brazil’s iconic Estadio Maracana, watched over by the Christ the Redeemer statue, Rodriguez is well and truly on the footballing map.

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RELATED ARTICLES

– World Cup 2014 Knock-out round permutations

Group A: Neymar’s goals continue to flow while Mexico book their place in the second-round

Group B: Holland secure top-spot and Spain salvage some pride before returning home

Group C: Greece rekindle the spirit of 2004 by beating the Ivory Coast while Colombia crank up another gear

Group D: Uruguay advance ahead of Italy but Suarez ends his World Cup after another moment of madness

Group E: Wasteful France still secure top spot and Shaqiri’s hat-trick results in Swiss progression.

Group F: Messi goes from strength to strength against Nigeria

Group G: Joachim Low is victorious in the battle of the Germans but Ghana’s implosion means Jurgen Klinsmann’s boys aren’t going home just yet

Group H: Dark Horses Belgium Make it a Clean Sweep in Group H and Algeria make it to the second round

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