If you are a sports fan who loves excitement and drama, you had better hope that you didn’t miss the World Cup games that took place on Sunday. The theme of the day was late goals, which had huge implications on things moving forward. Here is how the three games played out.
Belgium 1 – Russia 0
The game between Belgium and Russia was certainly and interesting one as it progressed throughout the game. In the first half, Belgium attacked Russia’s defensive-minded five-man defense, while the Russians pulled out the occasional break for their own offensive attacks. However, no points would be put on the board, but it at least looked like we were in for an entertaining game. That is, until the second half started. After halftime, this game become incredibly sloppy and went back and for with a mixture of throw-ins and free kicks, without much else happening. It even got to a point when fans were booing both teams, something we’ve yet to see in the 2014 World Cup until now. Luckily for Belgium fans, 19-year-old striker Divock Origi was substituted into the game and he would score at the 88’ mark. Russia is known for their stingy defense and draws, but Belgium was able to apply the pressure late and snatch a win to grab ahold of Group H.
It’s hard to argue that Belgium truly looked like a contender, but they do still have 22/1 odds to win the World Cup this year. And if their goal is to sit back and wait until the final minutes to score goals, they’ve accomplished that mission thus far. As for Russia, they currently sit at 250/1 odds. They’ll need a win in their final game against Algeria if they hope to advance to the Round of 16.
South Korea 4 – Algeria 2
Algeria isn’t typically known for it’s scoring, so nobody was prepared for the offensive outburst that they had on Sunday afternoon. In the first half alone, they would rack up three goals against the South Koreans, including scores from Islam Slimani, Rafik Haliche and Abdelmoumene Djabou. And while the score sheet was embarrassingly lopsided against the Koreans, what was even worse was that Algeria was outshooting them 11-0 during the half. Korea would come out in the second and play much more tenacious. They scored in the 50’ and also had a few other close calls that almost went in. However, when Yacine Brahimi scored for Algeria in the 62’, it was pretty much over. South Korea would score one more time from captain Koo Ja-Cheol, but the point difference was far too much for them to make up.
With the win, Algeria now has three points and could advance to the Round Of 16 in this year’s World Cup. South Korea will have one more game against Belgium, but they’ll have to hope a lot of things go their way if they are to advance from Group H. The Koreans are currently sitting at 2000/1 odds and Algeria has improved to 400/1.
Portugal 2 – USA 2
And what was by far the most exciting match of the day, if not of the tournament thus far, Portugal came back in the final 30 seconds of extra time to notch a 2-2 draw that could impact the entirety of Group G. There is no denying that Portugal was the heavy favorite going into this game. They are the number-four team in the world by FIFA rankings and they have a bevy of superstars, including the reining top player in the world Cristiano Ronaldo. So when they scored just five minutes in on a goal from Nani, it looked like it could be trouble for the Americans. However, the USA stuck with it and kept applying pressure. They finally were able to get past Portugal’s Beto when Jermain Jones nailed a scorcher from outside the box at the 64’ mark. 15 minutes later, Clint Dempsy would pick up his second goal of the tournament and give the United States a 2-1 lead in what looked like it could be one of the best wins in American history.
There was a bit of confusion when it was announced that there would be five minutes added on as extra time, especially since there wasn’t too much in the second half that required a lot of stoppages. Nonetheless, the Americans were able to hold Portugal and with under a minute let, if looked like the USA would advance from the Group of Death. That is, until Ronaldo received a pass along the right wing and sent in a cross that was headed in by Varela, tying the game up with just seconds remaining. The look on the faces of the American’s after the game was nothing less than disappointment and shock, while Ronaldo and the rest of the Portuguese team looked to be quite surprised and amazed themselves. To go from thinking they were out of the tournament to now realizing they have the chance to advance, this was a roller coaster of emotions for players and fans alike.
Every team in Group G remains alive now that they’ve all played two matches. The United States has four points and will need a win against Germany to seal their own fate and advance in the tournament. However, Portugal could do themselves a favor with a big win against Ghana, though that won’t be an easy task. Be sure to check back with Sportspicks.com handicappers before the final games in Group G kick off on Thursday. If those games are anything like what we saw on Sunday, you’ll want to be certain you are watching.