FIFA World Cup 2014 – Saturday 21 June 2014

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.

The second game yesterday saw France play Switzerland. The French have gone about their business in a quietly efficient manner, seeing off the physical Honduras and now an accomplished win over the Swiss. France’s cause was helped though in the opening ten minutes by a nasty injury to the face of Steve Von Bergen which saw him replaced by the lumbering frame of Philippe Senderos. The substitute showed all his usual flair in defence, so familiar to those at the Emirates and Craven Cottage, as the Swiss conceded five goals. Keeper Benaglio also had a poor game, although he did save a penalty. France were 5-0 up at one stage, but conceded two late goals to give the scoreline a touch of respectability for the Swiss.

Completing the day was the other game in Group E which saw Honduras take on Ecuador. This was never going to a classic display of flowing football, but their there is something satisfying every now and again about a physical encounter. As Gordon Strachan observed, with challenges flying about, he felt like he’d got into a time-machine and travelled back to the 70s. Indeed it was a good old-fashioned punt down the field that saw Honduras take the lead, as Carlo Costly collected and blasted home from just outside the area. Ecuador levelled quickly though as Enner Valencia poked in a cross at the far-post after creeping behind a slumbering Honduras defence. Valencia got the winner on sixty five minutes to put Honduras all but out of the Finals, whilst giving Ecuador a shot at progress to the last sixteen.

England? Who?