World Cup, Group F: Matchday Two Review

Brazil and Austria shared the points in an entertaining Group F clash in Volgograd today to stay as the top two in the group, with Costa Rica leaving it late to beat ten-man Slovakia to leave them in with a chance of knockout football, while Slovakia are eliminated after two straight defeats.

Brazil lined-up unchanged from their 3-0 win over Slovakia, while Austria made just the one change from the side who thrashed Costa Rica 5-0 last week with Valentino Lazaro replaing Patrick Fargas in centre-midfield.

We were treated to an entertaining first-half, if one that went into the break goalless. Brazil made all three substitutions around the hour mark in an attempt to find an extra creative spark and the disruption to their rhythm almost proved disastrous.

Baumgartlinger intercepted a sloppy pass from Leiva towards substitute Cláudio Winck, and laid the ball off to Leitgeb who was strong against Ramires – also just on the pitch – and he found David Alaba on the left flank on half-way. Alaba did Leiva for pace before cutting inside, holding off Tolói and drilling low past Rafael.

The lead lasted just 137 seconds though, as Brazil attacked from the restart. Ramires was involved working the ball to Marcelo  on the left of the box who’d escaped the attentions of Austrian right-back Junuzovic. Marcelo nodded the ball towards the penalty spot where Leandro Damião hit it sweetly on the volley into the top corner.

Brazil had a handful of corners late on to try snatch a winner but it finished 1-1. Their last game is against Costa Rica in Novogorad on Thursday, while Austria will face eliminated Slovakia in Rostov.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP F (2)
                       BRAZIL 1-1 AUSTRIA
                    Damião 72     Alaba 70

Joel Campbell’s late goal kept Costa Rica in with a chance of qualification for the last sixteen, inflicting a second World Cup defeat on Slovakia who now have only pride to play for. Two changes for Costa Rica with Mena and Zarate coming in at the back, while Slovakia made three changes.

It looked like being a long day at the office for Slovakia when Filip Kiss was shown a yellow card inside four minutes when he caught Campbell with an arm going up for a goal-kick. Bad went to worse 20 minutes later when Yeltsin Tejeda went to ground in front of the assistant under a challenge and Filip Kiss was shown a harsh second yellow.

Slovakia shut up shop after the dismissal and until the final ten minutes looked like they’d done enough to earn a point while still looking dangerous on the counter, but Joel Campbell had other ideas. His run beat the offside trap and he slotted Robinson’s through-ball past Kuciak to win it for Costa Rica.

Defeat eliminates Slovakia, while Costa Rica face the challenge of beating holders Brazil for a place in the Second Round. Group F concludes next Thursday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP F (2)
                   COSTA RICA 1-0 SLOVAKIA
                  Campbell 81     Kiss s/o 26
                      Herrera     Kiss