THE DAY REPLAYED – There are few better things in life than making up for past disappointments, something Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, the Netherlands and Chile can all relate to after Friday’s three matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
In all three cases the players in question left the pitch with broad smiles on their faces, content at having set the record straight.
In Memo Ochoa’s case that meant making a long-awaited FIFA World Cup debut, having earned selection for the previous two world finals without seeing any action at either of them.
For the Dutch came the satisfaction of avenging their South Africa 2010 Final loss to Spain in the best possible fashion, while two of Chile’s best-known stars experienced the joy of finally getting in among the goals at world football’s biggest competition.
Mexico 1-0 Cameroon [Budweiser Man of the Match: Giovani dos Santos]
Spain 1-5 Netherlands [Budweiser Man of the Match: Robin van Persie]
Chile 3-1 Australia [Budweiser Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez]
Guillermo Ochoa will always remember the diving save he made to deny Cameroon’s Benjamin Moukandjo in injury time of El Tri’s 1-0 victory over Cameroon in Natal. Wide-eyed and with arms outstretched, the Mexico keeper made light of the driving rain to pluck Moukandjo’s header out of the air, marking his FIFA World Cup debut – in his third world finals – in style. Having battled hard to finally secure a starting place, the determined Ochoa pulled off a save that his opposite numbers at Brazil 2014 will do well to match.
The Netherlands had frustrations of their own to make up for when they took on Spain, the side that pipped them to the title in a closely contested Final at South Africa 2010. There was nothing close about the scoreline in Salvador on Friday, however, as the Dutch – uncharacteristically kitted out in blue – overwhelmed the Spanish 5-1. No reigning world champions have ever suffered such a heavy defeat in the opening game of their title defence.
There was individual disappointment for Iker Casillas, who fell short in his attempt to beat Walter Zenga’s tournament record of going 517 minutes without conceding a goal, one the Italian keeper set at Italy 1990. In contrast, there was payback for Arjen Robben, who missed a gilt-edged chance against the Spanish that night in Johannesburg and atoned with a well-taken brace and a superb all-round performance.
Big things were expected of Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia in South Africa four years ago but neither was able to respond with a goal in Chile’s campaign, which ended in the Round of 16. This time around it only took the duo 14 minutes to open their respective World Cup accounts and set La Roja on the road to victory over the plucky Socceroos. Knocked out by Brazil on their last two appearances in the tournament, the Chileans have made an encouraging start in what they could justifiably call hostile territory.
64 - The number of years since Spain suffered a defeat heavier than the one the Netherlands meted out to them in Salvador. At the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil, they went down 6-1 to the host nation.
The social hub
Today we took the first step! Thanks to all the fans who were in the stadium supporting us and to everyone who was cheering us on back home in Mexico!
— Giovani Dos Santos (@OficialGio) junio 13, 2014
Colombia-Greece, 13:00, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Uruguay-Costa Rica, 16:00, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
England-Italy, 18:00, Arena Amazonia, Manaus
Côte d’Ivoire-Japan, 22:00, Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Have your say
Following today’s results in Group B, which two sides do you think will advance to the second round?