“To everyone in Greece I say: Go out into the street and celebrate.”
Georgios Samaras scored a 93rd minute penalty as Greece beat Ivory Coast 2-1 to qualify for round 16.
Columbia finished top of Group C with three wins out of three after defeating Japan 4-1 at the FIFA World Cup 2014.
Lionel Messi scored twice as Argentina sealed a 3-2 win over Nigeria to finish top of Group F with nine points. Iran’s 3-1 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina ensured Nigeria’s place in the last 16.
GROUP C: Greece 2 Ivory Coast 1 – 9pm (BST) KO, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza – Tuesday
Greece defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 in a very closely fought game in Group C. Entering the game, both teams needed a result. But a Greece win meant that they had qualified for the next stage of the competition.
Greece took a first half lead in the 42nd minute when Andreas Samaris scored, taking advantage of a defensive error from Cheick Tiote. Samaris was a one of two Greek substitutes bought on in the first half due to injury.
The second half saw much more attacking play from Ivory Coast. They deservedly equalised in the 74th minute thanks to a great pass from ex-Arsenal winger Gervinho, setting up Wilfried Bony. At 1-1, Ivory Coast were heading to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Their celebrations were muted when Greece were awarded a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time. It was converted by Georgios Samaras, sparking wild celebrations by the whole team.
This was the first time Greece had reached the knockout stages of a World Cup. Greek coach Fernando Santos was over the moon as he said: “To everyone in Greece I say: Go out into the street and celebrate.”
Disappointed at the loss against Greece, radio and TV presenter, Noreen Khan tweeted: “Awww gutted for Ivory Coast.”
GROUP C: Japan 1 Colombia 4 – 9pm (BST) KO, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba – Tuesday
Colombia finished top of Group C, thanks to a convincing 4-1 win over struggling Japan. Thus Columbia entered the last of the World Cup. Japan needed a win to have any chance of qualifying for the next stage, but failed to do so.
The Colombians took the lead as Juan Guillermo Cuadrado scored in the 17th minute. The Colombian winger, Adrian Ramos was clipped inside the box leaving Cuadrado to drill home the subsequent penalty.
Japan made it level just before half time with a pinpoint header from Shinji Okazaki. Keisuke Honda provided an accurate cross for the Japanese striker to finish on.
One of the tournaments top performers, James Rodriguez was bought on after the break, giving Colombia that extra attacking flair. Shortly after coming on to the pitch, Rodriguez set up Jackson Martinez to give his side a 2-1 lead.
In the 82nd minute, Rodriguez assisted Martinez yet again for a third Colombian goal. A poor defensive performance in the second half gave Rodriguez a chance to get on the score sheet as he slotted home a fourth goal to finish the game.
Speaking of his ace midfielder, Colombian coach, Jose Pekerman said:
“I think what James Rodriguez has done simply demonstrates what we expected from him.”
Group F: Bosnia-Herzegovina 3 Iran 1 – 5pm (BST) KO, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Bosnia-Herzegovina recorded a comfortable win over Iran in their final Group C game. The European side had already been eliminated from the competition, but still managed to record a 3-1 victory against the Asian giants.
Edin Dzeko gave Bosnia a first half lead thanks to a thunderous shot from outside the area.
Miralem Pjanic then gave Bosnia a two goal lead with a clinical finish from twelve yards. Reza Ghoochannejhad gave Iran a glimmer of hope in the 87th minute, be it briefly. But Bosnia’s Avdija Vrsajevic scored a third goal to seal the match.
Bosnian striker, Dzeko had recently blamed the referee in the game against Nigeria, which caused their exit from the tournament. He said:
“We are going home, we are sad because of that. But this referee should be going home, too. He changed the game. That’s why we lost. It was obviously a foul on our captain and before, when I scored the goal, it was never offside.”
Group F: Nigeria 2 Argentina 3 – 5pm (BST) KO, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
Lionel Messi scored a brace as Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in their final group game. The win meant that Argentina had topped group F as they reached the last 16 of the World Cup.
Messi gave Argentina the lead inside three minutes after pouncing on a rebound shot from Angel Di Maria. A minute later, Nigeria equalised from a quick counter attack, finished by Ahmed Musa.
Argentina’s talisman struck again with a pinpoint free kick from twenty-five yards, giving the South Americans the lead going into the break.
Nigeria equalised for a second time, following a beautiful finish from Musa in the 47th minute. Argentina scored the winner three minutes later, with Messi not being involved in the goal this time. A final touch from Marcos Rojo cemented Argentina’s hundred per cent record in the competition so far.
With Bosnia, Iran, Japan and Ivory Coast having left the competition in dramatic fashion, this World Cup has already proved to be one of the most exciting yet.
The next round (last 16) of games can only add to the excitement with Columbia facing Uruguay on 28 June 2014. Costa Rica will take on Greece on 29 June 2014.