Uruguay tastes victory
NATAL, Brazil -- Captain Diego Godin scored in the 81st minute as Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 Tuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup, although the victory was overshadowed by a biting incident involving the South American side’s star forward Luis Suarez.
Four-time champion Italy, meanwhile, is heading home after the group phase for the second time in four years.
Godin rose above a crowd of defenders to meet a corner with his left shoulder and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had no chance.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area.
Suarez was already sanctioned with a heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players for biting with bans of up to two years.
Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio was shown a direct red card for putting his boot into Egidio Arevalo’s knee in the 59th. Mario Balotelli picked up his second yellow card in two matches during the first half, and was benched for the second period.
Costa Rica was the surprise winner of Group D with seven points following a 0-0 draw with England on Tuesday. Uruguay finished second with six, while Italy and England went home with three and one point, respectively.
Uruguay had to win to go through while Italy needed only a draw and it was clear that the Azzurri were playing for that result when coach Cesare Prandelli replaced Balotelli with a defensive midfielder, Andrea Parolo, to start the second half.
It appeared the tactic could work when veteran goalkeeper Buffon stuck his right arm out to deny an excellent effort from Suarez in the 66th on a sizzling afternoon at the Arena das Dunas.
But Godin was waiting to meet a corner from substitute Gaston Ramirez, who had come on three minutes earlier. With his back to the goal, Godin managed to redirect the ball into the far corner.
Uruguay had argued for a penalty in the 51st when Edinson Cavani got his legs tangled with Leonardo Bonucci, but Mexican referee Marco Rodirguez motioned to play on.
The last time Italy failed to proceed from the group stages in two successive World Cups came between 1950 and 1966, when Italy was eliminated in the first round four successive times.
Italy controlled much of the match with its passing accuracy in midfield while Uruguay relied on swift counterattacks and even attempted to surprise Buffon with shots from its own half.
FIFA listed the temperature at a sizzling 33 C (91 F), and clouds gave way to sun about midway through the first half, providing no relief for the players.
Uruguay fans took over one entire corner of the stadium -- which is named after this coastal city’s massive sand dunes -- and greatly outnumbered Italy’s supporters.
In the 22nd, Balotelli was shown a yellow for a needless foul on Alvaro Pereira. Balotelli practically leapt over the midfielder, hitting the back of the opponent’s head with his left shin.
Pereira was already the victim of a head injury in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England.
Costa Rica 0, England 0
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Costa Rica finished first in what many considered the World Cup’s toughest group after a dour 0-0 draw against a second-string England side Tuesday.
Costa Rica only needed a draw to top Group D and played that way, setting up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation.
The result gives Costa Rica its best World Cup performance, winning a group that contained former three world champions. While Los Ticos reached the knockout stages in 1990, they finished second in a weaker group. Costa Rica will play the runner-up in Group C in the second round. England lost its first two matches to Italy and Uruguay, while Costa Rica surprisingly won its first two. Uruguay also advanced from the group after beating Italy 1-0.
England had already been eliminated and will go home without a win after striker Daniel Sturridge missed a number of chances throughout the match.
One of Sturridge’s best opportunities came in the 65th after a nice one-two with midfielder Jack Wilshere. But the forward’s curling shot from the right just missed squeezing inside the far post.
Costa Rica had started the match brightly, passing the ball around midfield with ease and making England chase them around. Forward Joel Campbell had an early chance, but his shot from inside the area deflected off Gary Cahill and went just wide in the second minute.
Costa Rica’s best chance came in the 23rd minute when Celso Borges’ curling free kick was tipped onto the crossbar and out for a corner by England goalkeeper Ben Foster.
But that was about it in terms of attacking for the Costa Ricans and they were happy to absorb England pressure, especially in the second half. With nothing to play for, England coach Roy Hodgson made nine changes to the team, fielding a slew of England’s younger talent, including Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw.
England’s backup players looked disjointed in the first half, giving the ball away easily and finding it difficult to break through Costa Rica’s setup.
Wilshere made a fine run down the left in the 12th, setting up Sturridge just outside the area, but the forward’s curling shot just missed wide. Sturridge missed another good chance in the 18th from a throw-in, when he let the ball run in front of him before the unmarked striker launched a long-range shot that went horribly wide.
In the 35th, Ross Barkley sent a long ball into the penalty area, which Phil Jones connected with and nodded across the face of goal. But Sturridge headed it over the crossbar.
Wayne Rooney came on as a substitute late in the second half and made an instant impact for England. He found space just outside Costa Rica’s area in the 80th, but the backpedalling Navas was able to tip it over the bar and out for a corner.
Colombia 4, Japan 1
CUIABA, Brazil -- Substitute James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia beat Japan 4-1 on Tuesday to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions from the World Cup.
Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay.
The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado -- one of the few regular starters -- drilled in a 17th-minute penalty.
Japan equalized with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazaki’s header but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes -- both from superb passes from Rodriguez -- to put the result beyond doubt.
Greece 2, Ivory Coast 1
FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty to put Greece into the second round of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast.
Samaras was adjudged to have been brought down by substitute Giovanni Sio and Samaras calmly slotted in the spot kick for the win that puts Greece through to the knockout stage. Ivory Coast would have advanced with a draw.
Substitute Wilfried Bony had equalized for Ivory Coast in the 74th, beating goalkeeper Pangiotis Glykos from close range after being set up by Gervinho.
The Greeks had taken the lead just before halftime through substitute Andreas Samaris.
Veteran striker Didier Drogba started for Ivory Coast along with Yaya and Kolo Toure despite the recent death of their brother Ibrahim. The Ivorians wore black armbands as a sign of mourning.
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