World Cup: Scottish Hat-Trick & Late Latin Drama

Group H: A last-gasp goal in Sochi put Colombia through to the last sixteen on goal difference at the expense of Mexico who won the game 3-2. With any combination possible, Ian Morrison hit a hat-trick in Kazan for Scotland as they made the knockout stages for the first time ever, coming from behind to inflict a third group stage defeat on Croatia.

Two changes for Colombia who went in to the game top of Group H: Víctor Ibarbo and Manuel Schmiedebach came in for Raúl Scarpeta and Carlos Carbonero. Just the one change for Mexico who needed to do the job and hope Scotland slipped-up: Andrés Guardardo in for Erick Torres.

It was a great start for Mexico as they found themselves two goals to the good with half-hour played. First to find the back of the net was Giovani dos Santos who bent a 20-yarder into the top corner after he skipped past the challenge of Anderson Camacho and curled it around David Ospina.

The second came following a fine counter-attack down the right-hand side with Carlos Vela and dos Santos working the ball forward to Javier Hernandez. He drew the defenders to him before slipping a pass through to Héctor Hernandez who had time to take a touch before placing low past Ospina for 2-0.

As it stood, Mexico were top of the group ahead of Colombia on goal difference, but that changed in the 42nd minute when Juan Quintero’s free-kick was met by Fredy Guarín. Guillermo Ochoa pushed the header away but Edwin Zapata® was first to the loose ball and he pulled a goal back for Colombia.

Half-time in Sochi had Colombia first and Mexico second but a stoppage time twist over in Kazan between Scotland and Croatia edged Mexico back down to third.

Come the 70th minute, Scotland were comfortably beating Croatia to sit top of the group. Mexico attacked down the left and Christian Arochi crossed low for dos Santos. His half-volley was saved by Ochoa but again the ball ran loose and Carlos Vela slotted home the rebound. Mexico leapfrogged Colombia back into second on goal difference.

Into the final moments, Colombia knew that a single goal would put them through and they through everything at the Mexican defence in search of it. Carbonera had come on to replace Aparicio, and he scored the vital goal with 89:03 showing on the stadium clock.

Mexico had a throw-in by their own corner flag, just needing to see out the game to qualify. Arochi’s delivery was sloppy and James intercepted ahead of  Enriquez. The ball was worked to Quintero down the right and he sent it in to the near post where Carlos Carbonera diverted the cross home to make it 2-3, and celebrated the goal as big as a winner.

That swung the goal difference back in Colombia’s favour (+2) ahead of Mexico (+1) and they’ll now play Ivory Coast in Kazan on Tuesday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (3)
                      COLOMBIA 2-3 MEXICO
                     Zapata 42     dos Santos 22
                  Carbonero 90     Herrera 31
                                   Vela 70

Scotland needed to avoid defeat but match (or better) Mexico’s result in order to progress ahead of them in their final group game in Kazan. They made two changes as James Forrest and Liam Bridcutt replaced James Morrison and Ryan Gauld. One change for Croatia: Tomecak in for Vrsaljko.

Scotland had the ball in the back of the net with just 69 seconds played as they burst out the blocks, but the offside flag was up against Jordan Rhodes in what was possibly his only shot on target all game.

A minute later the ball was up the other end with Luka Modric whipping in a Croatian corner. Cleared but worked back to the Real Madrid man, he fired it low into the six-yard box where amidst a scramble, Milan Badelj poked Croatia ahead, and Scotland dropped to 3rd in the group, knowing a second Croatian goal would put them bottom.

Ian Morrison® equalised with a bullet header in the 38th minute when Forrest pumped a free-kick in towards the penalty spot. In the other game, Colombia had pulled a goal back against Mexico which meant both those sides were going through.

Two additional minutes were indicated by the Swiss match officials and with 46:49 on the clock, Ian Morrison turned the game on its head when he beat his man to get on the end of Scott Robinson’s ball across the face of goal to turn home and put Scotland in front and ahead of Mexico due to their win over them earlier in the week.

Seven minutes after the break, James McArthur saw yellow when he pulled the shirt of Badelj right in front of the referee as Croatia broke-up a Scottish attack and started to counter. The booking was his second of the tournament and if Scotland went through he’d miss their second round tie.

Shortly after, his disappointment turned to elation as Forrest launched a free-kick into the Croatian box, Ivan Strinic had hold of half-time sub Murray Wallace, and referee Sascha Kever pointed to the spot. Ian Morrison was given the chance to be the first Scot to score a World Cup hat-trick and he duly obliged, firing into the top corner past Goran Blazevic.

In Sochi, Mexico had also gone 3-1 up which left Scotland first and Mexico second with 70 minutes played. Scotland made a change as James Morrison replaced Lee Wallace and he made an immediate impact. Forrest’s ball from the left was laid off by Ian Morrison to his namesake James who absolutely leathered the ball home from twelve yards out.

That’s how it finished in Kazan and goal difference saw Scotland top the group. They’ll play Chile in the last sixteen, with the match being held in Spartak Mosow’s stadium on Tuesday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (3)
                     SCOTLAND 4-1 CROATIA
  I.Morrison 38, 45+2, pen 55     Badelj 3
                J.Morrison 73

                     McArthur     Vida

World Cup, Group H: Matchday Two Review

Colombia won from a goal-down to defeat Croatia in Rostov to take control of Group H with their second win, while Scotland won their first game at a World Cup in 28 years when they came from behind against ten-man Mexico to leapfrog their opponents into second on head-to-head.

Two changes for Colombia from their win over Scotland: Anderson Camacho® and Raúl Scarpeta® in for Pablo Armero and Manuel Schmiedebach. Croatia made two changes from the side that lost to Mexico: Jurica Buljat and Luis Ibáñez replaced by Ivan Strinic and David Domej – who has just completed a £12m move from Sunderland to Man City.

Everton striker Nikica Jelavic scored his tenth goal for Croatia with a fantastic first-time left foot drive that flew past David Ospina in the 20th minute after a delightful ball into his path from Ante Vukusic.

The lead lasted just three minutes though Edwin Zapata pounced on indecision from Domej to draw Colombia level. James Rodríguez whipped a free-kick into the box, headed towards his own goal line by Sime Vrsaljko. Domej tried to prevent it going for a corner, made a hash of the clearance and Zapata simply had to slot the ball home from eight yards.

Colombia had Croatia pegged-back in their own half and when they took the lead in the 40th minute, it was deserved. Carbonero slotted a ball through to James Rodríguez who had time and space to pick his spot and drill home a low shot in-off the post.

A third came fifteen minutes from time when man-of-the-match Freddy Guarín spotted the run of Víctor Ibarbo in to the box. A sublime reverse pass found the Spartak striker who held off the challenge of Strinic and and slotted home for 3-1. Victory means Colombia have one foot in the last sixteen. They play Mexico on Friday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (2)
                     COLOMBIA 3-1 CROATIA
                  E.Zapata 24     Jelavic 21
                     James 40
                    Ibarbo 75


Erick Torres – hero in the Mexico win over Croatia – turned villain in today’s clash with Scotland when he was dismissed one minute after Scotland equalised in a game they were second-best in throughout. Giovanni dos Santos was the only Mexican change, replacing Alan Navarro®.

Scotland made three changes from the side that lost to Colombia. In came Ryan Gauld, James Morrison and Ian Morrison; replacing Grant Hanley, Liam Bridcutt and Steven Fletcher.

Midfielder Giovanni dos Santos, playing on his club Anji’s home ground in Makhachkala, slotted home in the 7th minute to put Mexico in front after a run from Christian Arochi® down the left where he pulled the ball back from the goal-line for a tap in.

Mexico came close twice in the next fifteen minutes but were undone by a superb Ryan Gauld free-kick that will be in the running for goal of the tournament. Jordan Rhodes was felled by Héctor Moreno, and Gauld had the opportunity from 30 yards out. He bent the ball round the left of the wall, and it cannoned into the back of the net courtesy of the underside of the bar.

Less than two minutes later, it got worse for Mexico. Jorge Enríquez’s ball towards Torres was too short and the Pumas midfielder – scorer of nine goals in a 12-1 Gold Cup win over Panama last July – went in two-footed to win it ahead of Russell Martin. Neither the Scottish bench nor Turkish referee was impressed with the challenge and Erick Torres was shown a straight red.

Five minutes after half-time, Jordan Rhodes hit a daisy-cutter from 20 yards that spun off the wet turf and away from the outstretch arm of a diving Guillermo Ochoa for the most famous Scottish goal in quite some time.

Mexico bombarded David Marshall’s goal for the remaining 40 minutes but the Cardiff City ‘keeper was equal to everything, with a little help from the woodwork twice and Scotland held out for a huge win. As long as they match or better Mexico’s result on Friday, they’ll go through.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H (2)
                       MEXICO 1-2 SCOTLAND
                 dos Santos 7     Gauld 22
                Torres s/o 24     Rhodes 50
                     Enríquez     McArthur
                       Arochi     Wallace

World Cup, Day Six: Croatia 0-1 Mexico (H)

A stoppage time penalty at the end of the first-half was to take Mexico past Croatia in the final opening group match, meaning all 32 sides have now played at this summer’s World Cup. 25-year old Pumas UNAM striker Erick Torres converted for his 12th international goal.

Mexico’s competitive record now reads just one defeat and twelve wins over the past year as the CONCACAF Gold Cup winners beat their European opposition – ranked 6th in the world – in Volgograd tonight.

The match-defining moment came with the clock showing 45:23 as the fourth official had just finished indicating two additional minutes. Torres’s run to the edge of the box opened the Croatian defence, and he found Javier Hernández who was felled by Domagoj Vida.

Uzbek referee Irmatov pointed to the spot, and up-stepped Torres to send Blazevic the wrong way and Mexico went into the break with a goal advantage. They had the better of it in the second-half, and despite a late rally from Croatia to attempt to snatch a point through Rakitic and then Corluka, it remained 1-0.

Next up for Mexico are Scotland on Monday, with Croatia facing Colombia.

                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP H
                      CROATIA 0-1 MEXICO
                                  Torres pen 45+1
                     Vrsaljko     Esparza

Netherlands 0-2 Croatia 3RD PLAYOFF (#63)


Croatia have beaten the Netherlands to claim their second Third-Place finish at a FIFA World Cup, with a 2-0 win in Brasilía. Two goals before the break proved the difference in a fiery encounter that saw four players from each side booked.

The run of a European nation winning the Playoff extends now to nine tournaments, with only Brazil in 1978 preventing a run of thirteen dating back to Chile in 1962 on their home soil.

The Netherlands suffered a blow inside the opening ten minutes when Robin van Persie was stretchered off after an innocuous aerial challenge that saw him land very heavily. News is that he’ll miss the start of the season with a hip injury.

Shortly before the half-hour mark, Ivan Perisic went down in the box under a tackle by Gregory Van der Wiel, but his convincing argument was waved away by the Italian referee. Seven minutes later though, he did point to the spot.

Ivica Olić was grappled to the ground by Erik Pieters, giving Croatia the chance to go in front with the 15th penalty awarded in the tournament so far. Luka Modric duly obliged, sending the Dutch ‘keeper the wrong way, for his 10th international goal.

With half-time approaching, Vedran Corluka hooked a ball over the top of the high Dutch back line that Eduardo brought down with one touch, rounded Steklenberg and slotted home to double the lead.

The Netherlands never really came close to troubling Blazevic, only forcing him to make one save, though Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came closest when he beat the offside trap with ten minutes to go and hit the post.

All eyes move to Rio de Janeiro for tomorrow’s Final, Brazil v. Italy.


                  FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014
                MATCH 63: THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF
                  NETHERLANDS 0-2 CROATIA
                                  Modric 34 (pen)
                                  Eduardo 42




Perisic (CRO) 90': 21/23 passing, 0/3 crossing, 6/8 tackling
              2/4 headers, 6 intercepts, 1 shot. Rating: 7.1

Croatia 0 – 1 Italy SEMI-FINAL (Match #61)


Giuseppe Rossi’s thirteenth goal for his country was enough to seal a late win for Italy, who remain on course for their fifth World Cup victory. The Italians, who kept their fourth clean sheet in six games in Brazil, weren’t ever particularly troubled by Croatia, with Sirigu only having to make the one save.

The decisive moment came with six minutes left of normal time. Bonucci was on-hand to clear from inside the Italian six-yard box just as Jelavic looked to have beaten his marker to a cross from the left. Rossi collected the ball on halfway and broke forwards with Balotelli.

Balotelli and Forestieri played a neat one-two before the former played through Giuseppe Rossi who took a touch into the box before unleashing a fierce low drive past Blazevic from 15 yards.

Three Italian players were booked during the match, but fortunately everyone will be available for Sunday’s Final against Brazil or Netherlands. Croatia will play the defeated team from tomorrow’s Semi-Final in the Third-Place Playoff in Brasilia on Saturday.


                   FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014
                      MATCH 61: SEMI-FINAL
                      CROATIA 0-1 ITALY
                                  Rossi 84

                           Sao Paulo



 Ivan Perisic (Croatia) - Substitute ON, 85th minute.
 4/4 passing, fouled once, 2 shots off target. Rating n/a

Japan 3-3 Croatia aet (2-4 pens) QFINAL (#58)


Croatia held their nerve to reach their second-ever Semi-Finals by beating Japan in first penalty shootout of the tournament so far in Brazil. Sevilla striker Hiroshi Ibusuki was heartbroken after missing twice from the spot in the space of ten minutes.

Croatia took the lead three times in the match, but found themselves pegged back each time. Here’s how it all unfolded:

    • 01′ JAP 0-0 CRO: Yellow card after just fifteen seconds for Mario Badelj after he goes through the back of Nagatomo. No nonsense from the referee from Uzbekistan.
    • 17′ JAP 0-1 CRO: Deep cross from the left to the far post from Ivan Perisic that Ivan Rakitic gets on the end of and turns past Kawashima from seven yards out.
    • 52′ JAP 1-1 CRO: Some fantastic passing in midfield by Japan to open up space in front of the Croatian back four, and after 20 or so, they find it. Takagi plays in Shinji Okazaki who’s just onside and he smashes into the top corner from 16 yards.
    • 65′ JAP 1-2 CRO: Luka Modric is fouled 30 yards out, but the referee plays a brilliant advantage as Olic spins the ball into the path of Eduardo who cuts inside the box and puts Croatia two-one up.
    • 75′ JAP 2-2 CRO: Corluka doesn’t look up when he plays the ball across the face of goal towards his ‘keeper. It’s a gift for Takayuki Morimoto who has the simplest of finishes from 15 yards out to level. Croatia concede from their own throw-in.
    • 93′ JAP 2-3 CRO: Ivica Olic puts Croatia back in front just 160 seconds into extra-time. The Japanese ‘keeper hits a weak free-kick upfield which comes straight back into his half through Badelj. Olic gets into the area, rounds Kawashima and taps over the line.
    • 112′ JAP 3-3 CRO: There’s eight minutes to go and Japan have drawn level for the third time today. Pranjic is caught in possession and the ball forwards to Ibusuki. One-touch through-ball to Shinji Okazaki who nutmegs Blazevic from ten yards out.
    • 120+1′ JAP 3-3 CRO: Penalty! We’re a minute into stoppage time, and a minute from a shootout when Maloca has both arms round Morimoto at a corner and Ravshan Irmatov points to the spot!
    • 120+2′ JAP 3-3 CRO: Hiroshi Ibusuki can put Japan through here… he hits the post! Blazevic goes the right way but he wouldn’t have got there. The woodwork denies him! We go to a shootout!
    • Danijel Pranjic goes first. Was at fault for the third Japanese goal. SCORES. 0-1
    • William Kobayashi for Japan. Steps up and screws it high and wide. MISS. 0-1
    • Luka Modric. Perfect penalty! High into top corner. No stopping that. 0-2
    • Takayuti Morimoto. Sends Blazevic the wrong way and Japan are off the mark. 1-2
    • Ivan Perisic. Scored in the Champions League Final shootout…. SCORES here! 1-3
    • Hiroshi Kiotake up next. Fantastic into the top right! SCORES for Japan, it’s 2-3
    • Dejan Lovren. Smashes it straight down the middle as the keeper goes right. 2-4
    • Hiroshi Ibusuki to make amends, must score. HITS THE POST. It’s all over!

Croatia will play the winners of Italy v. Germany in the Semi-Finals.


                   FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014
                     MATCH 58: QUARTER-FINAL
                        JAPAN 3-3 CROATIA
              Okazaki 52, 112     Rakitic 17
                  Morimoto 75     Eduardo 65
        (Ibusuki m/pen 120+2)     Olic 93

                PENALTY SHOOTOUT (Croatia 1st)
                  William ✘        ✔ Pranjic
                 Morimoto ✔        ✔ Modric
                 Kiyotake ✔        ✔ Perisic
                 Fabregas ✔        ✔ Lovren
                  Ibusuki ✘         

                 CROATIA WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES




Ivan Perisic (CRO): 90' 27/35 passes, 2/10 crosses, 7/9 tackles
 5/5 headers, 1 assist, 1/2 shots OT, scored in shootout. (7.7)