FIFA World Cup 2014: Group C, Matchday 3

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Brazil play Iran in Natal today, with the hopes of a nation resting on their shoulders. A draw should be good enough to see them through, but given the way goals have been flying-in in Group C, they’ll want to seal their safe passage to the Second Round with a win.

Croatia meet Slovakia in the other match, with Slovakia needing to win by two goals to overtake their opponents on goal difference. A lesser result will see Croatia qualify.

Odds: Iran 13-2 v. Brazil 2-5F (Draw 11-4)
Odds: Slovakia 3-1 v. Croatia 4-5F (Draw 2-1)

Timeline:

    • 08′ SLO 1-0 CRO: Slovakia off to a flyer! They need a two-goal win and that sets them up very nicely. Vladimir Weiss is given time and space to bring the ball forwards, running 30 yards and finishing powerfully from just inside the box.
    • 18′ IRA 0-1 BRA: Manchester City’s Neymar finally has his maiden World Cup goal. He’s extremely fortunate to get the ball back under control when he’s challenged and the ball squirms loose, but the finish is a thunderbolt off the underside of the crossbar from 15 yards out.
    • 28′ IRA 1-1 BRA: Out of nothing, Iran have drawn level in Natal. Ehsan Hajysafi has his sixth goal for his country when he cuts inside from the right, steadies himself then slams the ball past Cavalieri from the edge of the box.
    • 31′ SLO 1-1 CRO: Great counter-attacking goal equalises for Croatia! Corluka wins the ball back in his own penalty area, and it’s brought forwards by Perisic. He finds Mandzukic who gets to the goal line and pulls back for Luca Modric to slot home.
    • 33′ IRA 1-2 BRA: The hosts are back in front as the Iranian back four look forlornly over to the linesman. Sandro and Marcelo combine down the left to work the ball into the box, a headed clearance drops to Neymar who spots Vágner Love on the edge of the box. His shot is pushed away but Hulk has a tap-in.
    • HT: Iran 1-2 Brazil, Slovakia 1-1 Croatia. BRA and CRO qualifying.
    • 56′ IRA 1-2 BRA: Javad Nekounam is given his marching orders by the Swedish referee as he swings an arm at Vágner Love as they both jump for a header, clearly catching the Brazilian in the face with an elbow.
    • 66′ IRA 1-3 BRA: Brazil through to the last sixteen in style. Marcelo gets the corner into the box at the second attempt. Neymar gets on the end of it, chipping the ball across the face of goal for Vágner Love to nod past Davari. Surely no way back for ten-man Iran. That’s his fifth of the tournament and he goes clear as top-scorer.
    • 72′ SLO 2-1 CRO: Weiss turns provider for Adam Nemec to put Slovakia back in front. Good work down the left, and Weiss gets a low ball right across the six-yard box for Nemec to turn home at the far post. Less than 20 minutes to find a third goal to qualify.
    • 81′ SLO 2-2 CRO: In to the final ten minutes and Milan Badelj may have just scored the goal that sees Croatia through. Mandzukic turns his man and plays through Badelj whose deflected shot bobbles past an unfortunate Kelemen.
    • 86′ SLO 3-2 CRO: There’s still hope for the Slovaks! Skrtel finds Nemec with a header, and he pops the ball over the top for Holosko to latch on to. As Blazevic comes off his line to close him down, he squares for Juraj Kucka to put Slovakia back in front. They’ve four minutes to find another goal to go through on goal difference.

Brazil win the group, will play runners-up in Group D.
Croatia through by skin of their teeth, likely to face Switzerland.

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DORTMUND PLAYER WATCH:
Ivan Perisic (CRO) - Played 90', 2 key passes, 83% pass rate (7.0)
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