Belgium started a much changed side with Kevin Mirallas (in the forward spot), Steven Defour, Adnan Januzaj, Nicolas Lombaerts and Anthony Vanden Borre getting starts. S G Kim got the start for Korea in goal. Korea showed more urgency and tried to up the tempo but only tested Thibaut Courtois twice in the first half. Belgium had chances too and Dries Mertens wasted the best ones. As the first half was nearing its end Steven Defour was given a straight red for a stamp on the Korean’s leg. As Korea searched for the lead a Divock Origi, on as a sub, shot rebounded off the goalie and a possible offside Jan Vertonghen shot it in. South Korea left the World Cup and Asia was as a whole did worse than it hoped. In the other game Algeria caused a shock of sorts by finishing second in group. Russia disappointed in their first game and didn’t do much better in the second or third. The 2018 hosts will need to improve their young squad and perhaps employ a more offensive outlook, one that is probably not Fabio Capello will be willing to go for.
Portugal 2-1 Ghana John Boye 31OG Ronaldo 80 – Asamoah Gyan 57
Germany 1-0 USA Thomas Muller 55
In a game where both teams needed a win – and even that may not have been enough if Germany and USA tied – the pre-game wasn’t the best preparation for Ghana. Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng were suspended by their own team. Disagreements and confrontation stories were added to earlier bonus money problems. The game had Eder, William Carvalho and Amorim starting for Portugal. The best action arrived via Cristiano Ronaldo with a cross/shot hitting the far side crossbar, a bit later Ronaldo had a close range header saved well by Fatau Dauda. The first good Ghanaian chance came when Asamoah Gyan managed to fend off Portuguese defenders and shoot at Beto, who saved well. The first goal of the game came when a cross was deflected or sliced into his own goal by John Boye. Late in the half Boye wasn’t far away from adding a second own goal. Ghana equalized in the second courtesy of Gyan. He headed a long cross behind Beto. The chance to take the lead was missed by Majeed Waris, unmarked and open he headed the cross just wide. In the 72nd minute Portugal had a penalty claim denied when Boye seemed to push Ronaldo. Ghana were extremely wasteful and Portugal took the lead. A cross was punched out by Dauda but he was almost trapped in between two of his own defenders, the punched ball fell to Ronaldo who shot in. Both teams exited the World Cup with Ronaldo one of the match stories for number of chances missed. In the other game Germany won in the rain courtesy of another Thomas Muller goal. Lucas Podolski got his first start. Both Germany and USA reached the round of 16.
France 0-0 Ecuador
Switzerland 3-0 Honduras Xherdan Shaqiri 6 31 71
The French started a much changed side with PSG’s Lucas Digne, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Morgan Schneiderlin and Antoine Griezmann starting. Ecuador’s sole change was Michael Arroyo in for Felipe Caicedo. France were good enough with their so called B team and did create openings if not the best of chances throughout the game. Ecuador needed more than they could deliver and despite some relatively good minutes didn’t seem likely to overcome the deficit that got bigger due to the score of the Switzerland – Honduras game. To add to the difficulty captain Antonio Valencia got himself sent off in the 50th minutes for a poor, but not malicious, challenge. In the other match Honduras enjoyed a surprisingly large percentage of possession by were undone by a hattrick and questionable defensive shape.
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-1 Iran Edin Dzeko 23 Miralem Pjanic 59 Avdija Vrsajevic 83 – Reza Ghoochannejhad 82
Argentina 3-2 Nigeria Lionel Messi 3, 45 Marcos Rojo 50 – Ahmed Musa 4 47
The Bosnia – Iran match was largely for pride. Iran had an outside chance of qualifying but had to win and then hope Nigeria lose by an equal or greater margin. It was never very likely and Bosnia would almost certainly have their say. The game featured more of the inability of the Iranians to generate concerted attacks and Bosnia more wasteful than not. Bosnia coach Safet Susic deserved some criticism for waiting until his country are eliminated to start both Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic together. Dzeko scored first from outside of the box. Miralem Pjanic added Bosnia’s second and he may have been offside but only by inches. Iran had more intent and managed to get their first via a good control and better cross. The response was quick as Iran were caught up the pitch. The game then got a bit choppy and there was little rhythm. Bosnia claimed the bulk of the possession without being overly clinical. Both teams exited the World Cup.In the other game Argentina again showed their vulnerability and reliance on Lionel Messi. Nigeria gave a good account of themselves and showed some promise for the round of 16th match to come.