Costa Rica upset two-time champion Uruguay 3-1 and Italy defeated England 2-1 yesterday to throw open one of the most difficult groups in this year’s soccer World Cup in Brazil.
A goal early in the second-half from Mario Balotelli secured victory for Italy in its opening Group D match. The striker outjumped Gary Cahill to head a cross from Antonio Candreva past goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Earlier, Claudio Marchisio’s 35th minute shot went through a crowd of England players and Hart’s diving attempt failed to stop the ball in Manaus. Two minutes later, Wayne Rooney raced down the left and passed into the path of Daniel Sturridge, who pushed the ball home to tie it.
Group D is one of the most competitive at this year’s tournament, with three former champions -- Italy, Uruguay and England - vying to advance. Two teams from each group advance to the round of 16, with the winner of Group C playing Group D’s runnerup, and the Group D champion playing the second-placed Group C team.
In yesterday’s Group C matches, Colombia defeated Greece 3-0 and Ivory Coast beat Japan 2-1. Today, Switzerland meets Ecuador, France plays Honduras, and Argentina takes on Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In Costa Rica’s 3-1 win in Fortaleza, Marcos Urena poked a defense-splitting pass from Joel Campbell into the Uruguayan net in the 85th minute to seal victory for his team. Campbell’s 54th minute goal -- followed three minutes later by a header from Oscar Duarte -- gave Costa Rica the lead. Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani opened the scoring with a 23rd-minute penalty kick.
Maxi Pereira was given a red card for kicking Campbell in injury time as Uruguay’s frustrations rose.
In the first first match of the day, Colombia defeated Greece 3-0 as second-half goals from James Rodriguez and Teofilo Gutierrez broke open the game.
Colombia got an early lead from Pablo Armero’s strike. Twelve minutes into the second half, Gutierrez flicked in a corner that went past several Greek players. Rodriguez shot from inside the penalty area and beat goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis in the 93rd minute to complete the scoring.
The 3-0 win is Colombia’s biggest ever in the World Cup.
In Recife, Ivory Coast used two quick second half goals from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho to come back and defeat Japan 2-1. Japan took a first half lead with a 16th minute goal from Keisuke Honda in the Group C game in Recife.
Yesterday, Chile beat Australia 3-1, and the Netherlands rallied from a goal down to maul defending champion Spain a 5-1 in Group B games.
In a Group A match, Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 on Oribe Peralta’s second-half goal. Brazil, the host and record five-time champions, beat Croatia 3-1 in the other Group A game.