The ninth day of FIFA World Cup 2018 kicked off with the first match between favourites Brazil and CONCACAF giants Costa Rica. The other matches, which promised a lot of excitement, were exciting, were between Nigeria and Iceland and Serbia and Switzerland. These matches result can determine which teams can advance to the round of 16 (the second round).
FIFA World Cup day nine: Brazil vs Costa Rica
The Brazilians started against Costa Rica decked out in full blue while Costa Rica wears full white. One of the players for Costa Rica is Ruiz who scored twice in World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Philippe Coutinho had an early chance to score for Brazil but his shot was a good one. Kaylor Navas, the Real Madrid star goalkeeper was in goal again for Costa Rica.
Coming into this match, Brazil has a record 70 wins in 105 matches with 17 defeats and 18 draws.
For the first seven minutes, Brazil had 65% ball possession. Brazil had a chance near the 18-yard box, which is the first of the match for Brazil. The free kick was taken by Neymar Jr. who chipped it into the 6-yard box hoping to find Gabriel Jesus or Coutinho, but Costa Rica managed to keep it out.
Within the 13th minute, Costa Rica got a brilliant chance to score and go 1-0 up but the shot went agonisingly wide. But, then Costa Rica started to cause a few problems.
Brazil got another free-kick to take- taken bu Neymar but the Costa Rican defenders were very alert and were able to keep the ball out. So far seven free kicks have been awarded within the first 18 minutes and three of those are committed against Neymar. Brazil’s first match against Switzerland, saw Neymar fouled 10 times.
Gabriel Jesus scored a goal for Brazil in the 26th minute but it was ruled offside. The initial shot was made by Marcelo but it hit Gabriel Jesus who hit the ball into the back of the net but he was already offside when Marcelo made the shot. Neymar got a break for Brazil a minute later but he was closed down by K. Navas.
Within the 31st minute, Neymar tried to get a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box but the referee ruled no foul. A minute later some excellent defending helped to prevent the Brazilians from scoring. As the match approached the end of the first half, Marcelo made a shot on target but Navas was able to dive to his right and catch the ball.
At the end of the first half, the match was 0-0, and Brazil had 65% ball possession to Costa Rica’s 35%. Brazilian fans are frustrated.
Brazil got a very good chance early in the second half but saw the ball going in the arms of Navas. Then a minute later the got another chance but the header from Gabriel Jesus hit the cross-bar. The rebound taken by Coutinho was then blocked for a corner. Then in the 56th minute, Neymar got a chance to score for Brazil but his shot was tipped away for a corner. Then, in the 58th minute, Coutinho’s shot was caught by Navas.
Brazil got into trouble in the 68th minute. But, luckily, the keeper was very alert. Casemiro got a header on target from a corner kick but Navas was well in position to catch the ball. In minute 72, Neymar got a chance to score from about 18-yards out but saw his shot going wide and over the bar. In response to the missed chance, Neymar hid his head in his shirt.
Brazil got a penalty due to a foul on Neymar in the 78th minute. However, the Costa Ricans protested and asked the referee to consult Video Assistant Referee (VAR). However, the VAR team called him to have a second look, which he did and ruled out the penalty. Casemiro had a shot in the 86th minute but only saw the ball roll into the arms of Navas. This is the first time a referee called a penalty and VAR ruled it out.
Approaching the 89th minute, Navas got hurt after he made a saving punch but collided into the back of Casemiro.
Then two minutes later, Coutinho finally broke the deadlock for Brazil with a tap into the back of the net, putting Brazil 1-0 up. G. Jesus took it down and Coutinho put it in. not even Navas could keep it out. Brazil then tried to buy some time by substituting G. Jesus with Fernandinho, a central defensive midfielder. Firminho, who came on for Paulinho got a chance in the 94th minute to score from in the penalty box, but his shot went high and wide.
Then in the 97th minute, Neymar gets his first World Cup of 2018 and puts Brazil 2-0 up. At the end of the match, Brazil went down in tears of joy. At the end of the match, Brazil had 67% ball possession and Costa Rica 33%.
Match two of day nine: Iceland vs Nigeria
The match started with Iceland in full blue and Nigeria in their green shirt with white sleeves and white shorts. Nigeria’s squad is the youngest in this World Cup.
Iceland got a free kick (taken by Sigurdsson) in the 3rd minute but the goalkeeper made a very good save-forcing the ball for a corner. The goalkeeper did well again to catch the ball once the corner was taken.
Iceland’s #10, Sigurdsson got another chance to score, in the 5th minute, but the Nigerian goalkeeper was well positioned to catch the ball.
After 20 minutes of play, Nigeria had 59% ball possession and Iceland had 41%. Near 21st minute, the Nigerian goalkeeper came under pressure and had to jump and punch the ball away to prevent Iceland from scoring.
In the 32nd minute, there was a loud appeal for a penalty by Iceland players and more so their fans but it was not given. The replay showed that there was no foul and there was no call from the VAR team for the referee to check.
Nigeria got a free kick in the 36th minute near the corner flag, but the delivery was poor and the ball headed out for a throw into Nigeria.
In the 44th minute, Idowu, #2, of Nigeria got the first yellow card of the match and Iceland got a free kick. Iceland almost got a goal from this free-kick but Finnbogasson, the goalscorer against Argentina could not get on the end of it. In the 46th minute Iceland started to make a break and got a corner, which produced a scoring chance, but, the header went wide- giving Nigeria a goal kick.
At the end of the first half, it’s 0-0 and Nigeria dominated play with 61% of the possession, but it was Iceland who was creating most of the chances.
An early (46th minute) attempt by Nigeria at the start of the second half saw the Iceland goalkeeper troubled for the first time. Then in the 49th minute, Iceland was caught on the break as Nigeria made a counter attack and scored. The goal was scored by Nigeria’s #7 Musa after a wonderful cross from Victor Moses. Musa made a wonderful first touch to control the ball and then striking the ball into the back of the net.
Also, the Iceland player, #6, Sigurdsson had a head injury and had to be treated with bandages because he was bleeding.
In the 56th minute the Iceland goalkeeper, Haldorrsson had to make a jump to tip the ball from a shot over the cross-bar.
In the 64th minute, Sigurdsson made way for Ingusson because he was unable to play any further.
In the 71st minute, Nigeria’s #6 made a good header from a corner but he headed the ball too high. Then, in the 75th minute, Musa almost got another goal for Nigeria but saw his shot hit the cross-bar. But, just a minute afterwards, Musa got the second goal in the tournament for Nigeria and his fourth in World Cup to give the Africans a two-goal cushion. Musa’s second goal came as he got the ball from outside the 18-yard box and then dribbled into the penalty area, beating the goalkeeper, and had only two defenders to beat, calmly placed the ball into the back of the net.
In the 80th minute, Iceland was awarded a penalty via VAR, which is the sixth of the 12 penalties awarded in the World Cup so far. However, Iceland’s #10 player became the third player to miss a penalty in the tournament as he kicked the ball over the cross-bar. Iceland almost had a goal in the 87th minute but Francis Uzoho (Nigeria’s goalkeeper), ensured that the ball did not pass him.
The match ended 2-0 in favour of Nigeria, which spells big trouble for Argentina.
Switzerland vs Serbia
Switzerland started the match in full white and Serbia in full red. Shaqiri of Switzerland was the man to kick the match off. The match was a very entertaining one. It was the Swiss who made the first attempt on goal but the shot wide. Both teams created chances, but it was the Serbians who had the first real chance in the first half when the Swiss goalie, Yann Sommer made a quick dive to his left to deny them.
A few moments passed and the Serbians got their first goal of the match and their second of the World Cup, when striker, wearing the #9 jersey, Aleksandr Mitrovic, rose above his opponents and locked onto a cross from Shaqiri and headed the ball into the Swiss goal, beating Yann Sommer. This goal came in the 5th minute.
Afterwards, both teams got good chances, especially the Swiss- which got three very good chances but never made good use of them. The first half ended 1-0 but, the Swiss had more ball possession- 62% to Serbia’s 38% and they had made 378 passes. After about 7 minutes into the second half, the Swiss got an equaliser from a fantastic shot from Granit Xhaka (player wearing #10 jersey)! The shot was from about 20-yards out.
In the 58th minute, Shaqiri, the player wearing the #23 jersey for Switzerland almost scored, but, his shot went inches wide. However, in the 90th minute, Shaqiri secured the winner for Switzerland with just 20 seconds of normal time remaining.
Play of the Day
The play of the day is the first goal scored by Nigeria, when the Nigerians made a superb counter-attack- Victor Moses made a brilliant cross into the penalty area to Musa who made a brilliant takedown with his right foot before making a right-footed shot into the back of the net, beating the Iceland defender and goalkeeper.
The 2-0 victory that Brazil got over Costa Rica put them on four points at the top of the group. Serbia had a chance to win today but, Switzerland became the first team in World Cup 2018 to come from behind to win 2-1. Brazil and Switzerland are both on 4 points now with Brazil in the lead due to a +2 goal difference, and Switzerland has a +1 goal difference. Both Brazil and Switzerland have scored three goals after their second match but Switzerland has conceded two while Brazil conceded only 1.
Serbia, Switzerland and Brazil all still have chances to advance to round two. But Serbia will have to beat Brazil to advance to round two or draw with Brazil and hope that Costa Rica beats Switzerland, which seems unlikely.
Nigeria’s 2-0 victory placed them on 3 points, 2 ahead of Argentina, which makes them more eligible to qualify for second round. However, Nigeria will have to either draw with Argentina or beat them to qualify.
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