Costa Rica, France Through To Last 16


Costa Rica made history by becoming the only non-European country other than Brazil and Argentina to beat two former winners at a single tournament.


The Central Americans fully warranted their win after overshadowing Italy for a better part of the match as the game was settled courtesy of Bryan Ruiz header shortly before half-time.


The Fulham sticker’s effort hit the crossbar and bounced over the line, with goal line technology confirming the decision.


Costa Rica might have won more comfortably had they been awarded a penalty appeal when Joel Campbell was clearly bundled over in the area by Italy’s defender Giorgio Chiellini.


The result means Italy has now dropped into second place in Group D, behind Costa Rica with Uruguay coming closely third on goal difference.


Italy, who failed to win their second group match at any of the previous three World Cups, will face Uruguay in Natal for a must win fixture for Uruguay.

Any draw will see Italy through to the round of last-16


In other matches played, France also secured a place in the last 16 as three first-half goals helped complete a 5-2 routing of Switzerland in Salvador in Group E fixture.


Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock with a stunning header before Blaise Matuidi slotted home Benzema’s assist second 66 seconds later following poor goalkeeping.


Karim Benzema who had a penalty saved completed his brace after Mathieu Valbuena’s goal had made it 3-0 at half time.


Moussa Sissoko completed the routing before Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka pulled two for Switzerlands consolations.


Didier Deschamps's side at the top of their group with six points will play against Ecuador on  June 25th in their last fixture in the group .


In a late kickoff, lesser-spoken Valencia, Enner not Antonio, scored in either sides of Arena da Baixada, Curitiba to complete Ecuador’s 2-1 comeback against Honduras.


In today’s fixture, Argentina will play Iran in Estadio Mineirao at 7:00 pm and are expected to use 4-3-3 formation, to involve Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago in the starting line-up.


Iran is expected to name the team which drew with Nigeria, with Charlton's Reza Ghoochannejhad deployed as their lone striker.


The only previous meeting was a 1-1 draw in 1977 in a friendly at the Bernabeu stadium, Real Madrid.


The second clash of the day will see Boateng’s brother meet in a fixture between Germany and Ghana in Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza at 10:00 pm


No doubt, Germany will be looking forward to end an 18-year wait for a major trophy after a clinical thrashing of Portugal in the opening match of Group G.


Germany have won their two previous games against Ghana in a 6-1 thrashing of The Black Stars in a friendly in 1993 and 1-0 in the last World Cup.


The only defeat Germany have suffered in six previous matches against African sides at a World Cup came 32 years ago against Algeria.


Since 1994 Germany has lost all but one matches in their second World Cup group games


Miroslav Klose currently with14 World Cup goals one behind Brazil's Ronaldo will be seeking to break the record.


The Black Stars on the other hand have won just four of their 11 World Cup matches and had 21 shots on goal against the USA but only three were on target.


African champions Nigeria will face Bosnia-Hercegovina for the first time in the last fixture of the day after a disappointing opening match against Iran.


This 800th match in the history of the World Cup will be played at Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba at 1:00 am.


TONIGHT’S FIXTURE:


Argentina vs. Iran (Estadio Mineirao-7:00 pm)


Germany vs. Ghana (Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza-10:00 pm)


Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Hercegovina (Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba-1:00 am.)


By Morgan Mueke

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