Bosnia and Herzegovina scored its first World Cup goal
Star Argentine forward Lionel Messi, who went scoreless in the 2010 Cup, scored the game-winner against Bosnia
Switzerland scored the latest extra-time goal in World Cup group play, ESPN reported
New goal line technology confirmed a goal for France in its 3-0 victory over Honduras
It was a day of firsts at the World Cup as France got a boost from technology and Bosnia and Herzegovina scored a groundbreaking goal.
And one of those “firsts” was a “last,” as Switzerland netted a winning goal deep into stoppage time, in what is reportedly the latest score in the opening round of the tournament.
Here are some of the highlights from Sunday in Brazil:
Getting on the board
It took almost the entire contest, but Bosnia and Herzegovina made sure its first World Cup match didn’t end up a shutout.
Vedad Ibisevic brought his homeland to within a goal of Argentina with a score in the 84th minute at Rio De Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, trickling a score past Argentine goaltender Sergio Romero. But it was too little, too late, as Argentina held on for a 2-1 victory.
We should mention that Ibisevic wasn’t the first Bosnian to put the ball in the net. The problem is Sead Kolasinac knocked it into the wrong net, scoring an own goal just 3 minutes into the game.
A hot Messi
It turns out the deciding goal was Argentina’s second tally, by none other than Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s greatest (and most scrutinized) player, who has a history of underperforming in the World Cup.
Messi scored a sublime goal in the 65th minute, on a give-and-go with Gonzalo Higuain that led to a strong left foot off the inside of the post. The tally led to boos from Argentine-hating Brazilian fans in Maracana, exultation across Argentina and Twitter almost exploding.
The Argentine striker won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year crowns in 2009, the combined FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010-2012, and placed second in 2013, while leading FC Barcelona to several major championships.
But entering this year’s World Cup, much of the focus lay on Messi’s lack of goal scoring in the 2010 tournament, which ended with a 4-0 Argentine loss to Germany in the quarterfinals.
Now that the pressure to score has abated, could this be the year Messi leads Argentina to the title?
As late as it gets
In 30 seconds, emotions for Ecuadorians went from exultation to heartbreak.
Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory when Switzerland quickly counterattacked in the dying seconds after Valon Behrami brilliantly tackled Ecuador’s Michael Arroyo, who appeared certain to score in stoppage time.
Behrami began the Swiss thrust upfield and was knocked to the ground, but the referee called for play to continue and Behrami reclaimed the ball near midfield.
The breakout ended when Haris Seferovic met a Ricardo Rodriguez cross to knock home the breathtaking winner.
Seferovic’s 93rd minute goal was the latest anyone has ever scored in World Cup group play, according to ESPN.
And you have to hand it to Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. He subbed in two guys. Each one scored.
“It was a dream end to the game for us and is very important for the morale of the team,” he said.
Sometimes soccer is a matter of inches. A player barely gets a toe on a ball to poke it away from an attacker. A player leaps high but just can’t quite get to a cross. A shot hits the post and ends up barely over the goal line.
The latter was the situation Sunday when France’s second goal in a 3-0 win over Honduras barely leaked over the line.
While the fans at the stadium watched replays and booed the referee’s call, new goal line technology showed it was indeed a goal.
Several television replays cast doubt on the call after France’s Karim Benzema smoked a shot off the right post. The ball skittered across the face of the goal before diving Honduras goalie Noel Valladares was judged to have nudged the shot fully over the line. Only one of the replays showed the ball likely over the line, but on the screen, FIFA’s animated representation indicated it was a goal by a few inches.
It was the first goal confirmed by goal line technology – introduced at this World Cup by FIFA.
“That was straight out of a tennis match. Well done FIFA,” tweeted Herculez Gomez, a forward who has played for the U.S. national team, alluding to similar technology that helps tennis officials rule whether a ball was in or out of play.
Goals by the bunches
There were only three goals scored in each of Sunday’s first two matches. Only?
While the number of goals per game had been trending down since the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, this tournament has seen an early explosion in the number of balls hitting the back of the net.
After Sunday’s action there have been 37 goals in 11 matches, 16 more than during the same number of games in South Africa in 2010. (And that’s not counting two goals called back in the Mexico-Cameroon match). The tournament average of 3.4 goals would be the highest since 1958. Ok, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves; there are 52 matches left.