As a parent, I would have been mortified if my son had bitten another child at nursery school and I would have made sure it only happened the once. When a 27 year old man does it for a third time, there is something pretty seriously wrong and it can’t be ignored.
The early games yesterday saw Group B played to a conclusion and in all fairness didn’t hold a lot of drama, given that Netherlands and Chile were already through and Spain and Australia were out. Of course there was top place to play for and at the other end avoiding the wooden spoon.
Sunday is traditionally a day of rest and it seemed that Belgium and Russia took that literally in the opening game yesterday. It was overall a game of poor quality, although Belgium started and ended it well. In between it was nothing much to write home about. Dries Mertens was dangerous out wide for Belgium in the opening spell of the first-half, whilst Eden Hazard rekindled the game in the last ten minutes of the second-half as the Russians tired badly. The Chelsea midfielder, Hazard, provided the winner as his cut-back ball allowed substitute Divock Origi to slam home with just two minutes remaining. Belgium through and the 2018 World Cup hosts, Russia, on the brink of exit.
I genuinely enjoyed the Argentina v Iran game. To date I’ve been critical of some of the keepers in the tournament so far, but have nothing but praise for Romero of Argentina and Haghighi of Iran who between them kept the game at 0-0 with some excellent saves right up until time added-on. The goal that broke the deadlock on 91 minutes had to be something special and it was, as Messi curled in for an Argentinian winner. Iran deserved a point and whilst pleased to see Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah perform so well, I’d rather he had a quieter last game in the group stages so that he isn’t lured from the Cottage in the coming season.
So (thankfully) that’s it. England are definitely out and we won’t have to suffer the media carrying on about the miracle required to make it through to the last 16. Our fate was sealed by Byran Ruiz who as a Fulham player looked like a delicate flower in the ‘hot-house’ of the Premier League. Yet here on the World’s biggest stage, the Costa Rican captain led his team to victory as he headed home in the first-half in a game where the Italians looked strangely out of sorts. Yet again the standard of officiating was variable and how Chilean referee Enrique Osses didn’t award a penalty to Costa Rica just before half-time I’ll never know. Costa Rica incredibly through and Italy faced with the prospect of an early plane home if they lose to Uruguay.