2014 FIFA World Cup: Day Seven Recap

Spanish faces say it all
Spanish faces say it all

Dutch Fend Off Plucky Socceroos

Is Australia a better soccer team than Spain? There’s obviously no comparison, but if you look at their respective scores against the Netherlands, Australia at least showed more fight in their 3-2 loss Wednesday. The Dutch looked poised for another rout when Arjen Robben burst through a challenge and tucked a shot just beyond Australia’s keeper, but the lead lasted just seconds before Tim Cahill volleyed a deep pass off the crossbar and in. The tie persisted through halftime, but in the 53rd minute with Australia pressing, Dutch defender Daryl Janmaat handled the ball, forcing the official to give a penalty shot. Captain Mile Jedinak fooled the Dutch keeper and put his team ahead, but again the lead was short-lived—Robin Van Persie stayed onside as he took a pass from Memphis Depay and blasted it into the roof of the Aussie goal. The Dutch fell into a groove, showing the offensive prowess that earned them five goals against Spain, and eventually were rewarded with the lead as Depay wound up a shot from well outside the area that threaded through Australia’s defense and found the net. The Netherlands will be without Van Persie in their final group match against Chile after he earned his second yellow card, while Tim Cahill will miss Australia’s finale against Spain after earning two yellows.

The Reign of Spain Ends

Spain has to be wondering where it all went wrong. The defending World Cup champs and two-time Euro Cup winners should have been on their way to a deep run rather than licking their wounds after a convincing defeat at the hands of Chile. Showing Spain’s 5-1 loss to the Netherlands was no fluke, the Chileans booked their own ticket to the knockout round with a 2-0 win. The scoring opened in the 20th minute, as a gang of Chileans ventured into the Spanish end, weaving and tiptoeing around defenders until Eduardo Vargas gained possession in the area and poked it past Iker Casillas. The Spanish keeper alone was responsible for Chile’s second score, punching a free kick straight to Charles Aranguiz, then guessing the wrong direction and missing Aranguiz’s shot. The Chilean victory also eliminates Australia, who for their lesser talent still showed enormous heart—much more than the defending champions, who will limp weakly into the sunset after a meaningless final game next Monday.

Cameroon Clashes and Crashes Against Croatia

There are teams in turmoil, and then there’s Cameroon. Outside of giving up four goals to Croatia on Wednesday—three after a red card to Alex Song put Cameroon down to 10 players—the team has been mired in financial disputes and apparent infighting. Before the tournament even began the players refused to board a plane to Brazil because the bonuses they had been promised weren’t enough. Then they were forced to play Croatia without their captain and star striker, Samuel Eto’o. Clearly they weren’t focused on Croatia, who opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Ivica Olic stole behind Cameroon’s defense to turn a perfect pass from Ivan Perisic into the net. Things still seemed within reach until Song ran into the back of Mario Mandzukic and reacted by inexplicably elbowing the Croatian, earning him a straight red card and an early exit. His mates struggled to keep up, allowing Perisic a goal and Mandzukic two of his own, and seemed to lose interest as their deficit grew. In the final moments Cameroonian tempers flared again, but this time Benoit Assou-Ekotto headbutted his own teammate, Benjamin Moukandjo. It’s merciful that Cameroon was officially eliminated from the tournament with the loss—it would have been painful for the rest of us to watch the drama continue any further than it has to. 

Benoit Assou-Ekotto headbutts Benjamin Moukandjo

(Image by @FlyByKnite)

Drew Berner

Drew Berner is a freelance writer born and raised in Toronto and specializing in entertainment, sports and politics. He occasionally collects vinyl records, enjoys hate-watching the Blue Jays, appreciates good beer and great scotch, and goes to sleep each night with 120 lbs. of Great Dane draped over him (it’s a lot more comfortable than it sounds). Follow him on Twitter @DrewBerner for photos of huge dogs, observational humour and assorted sports rage.

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