AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 4: Giants Continue To Stutter
Day 4 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is in the books and the trend of the big boys starting this tournament slow continued. After Serbia defeated Costa Rica in the early match, not only were Brazil held to a draw by Switzerland, but Germany were dealt a 1-0 defeat by Mexico.
Serbia v Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov stepped up to fire home a 56th minute free-kick to make the difference as Serbia defeated Costa Rica 1-0. Kolarov’s curled his set-piece effort through an opening in the wall and past Keylor Navas in the Ticos goal. It found the top corner from a full 25 yards as the Roma defender produced a simply stunning goal. That moment gave Serbia their first World Cup opening day victory in their last three attempts. Costa Rica were restricted to half chances on the afternoon with Navas making some key stops in keeping the match a one-goal game.
Match Rating - 6: No lack of effort from Costa Rica, but in truth they never looked like scoring. Serbia were more solid than spectacular, but found the match-winning inspiration from Kolarov.
Germany v Mexico
The biggest shock of the World Cup thus far took place on Sunday in Moscow. Mexico defeated defending champions Germany 1-0 thanks to a 35th minute goal by Hirving Lozano after a terrific ball by Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. It was the least El Tri deserved as Juan Carlos Osorio’s men could have scored in a brilliant performance.
Germany came undone time and time again when the Mexicans would counter and were fortunate not to lose by more. Their best chance came after they conceded, but Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa did well to tip Toni Kroos’ free-kick onto the bar.
The result breaks open Group E, which continues play on Monday with Sweden versus South Korea.
Match Rating - 8: Mexico played their role in an entertaining encounter. Germany tried to find a way back, but their opponents pulled off the shock with a deserved victory.
Brazil v Switzerland
Phillipe Coutinho’s masterful strike was not enough for Brazil as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland. It looked like the start of an expected win for the Selecao when Coutinho curled a trademark long-range effort off the post and in from outside the area in the 20th minute.
The goal glut never came however as a physical Swiss team threw Brazil off their rhythm. Brazil had 20 shots in the match, but only four on target. Switzerland battled throughout and were back on level terms five minutes after the break as Steven Zuber headed in past Allison from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner-kick.
Brazil continued to push forward and produced some dangerous opportunities, but a mixture of wayward finishing and some fine goalkeeping by Yann Sommer kept Tite’s side at bay.
Match Rating - 6.5: Switzerland sat back and absorbed pressure, but they also tried to get forward when they could. Brazil played some fine football in spurts, but not consistently enough to get past a well-organized Swiss team.
There were a quartet of Greek connections in the match between Serbia and Costa Rica.
On the Serbian side, former Olympiacos midfielder Luka Milivojevic and former Ergotelis goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic both played the entire match in their team’s 1-0 win. Current PAOK striker Aleksandar Prijovic was a 90th minute substitute and found time to earn a yellow card in injury-time. Prijovic became the seventh active PAOK player to appear at a World Cup.
For Costa Rica, former Olympiacos attacker Joel Campbell came on to play the 24 minutes.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Coutinho’s goal was superb, but just loses out to Kolarov’s free-kick, the best set-piece in the early days of this tournament.
- Kolarov’s match-winner
- Matic scuffle with assistant coach leads to small melee
- Mexico greatly impress in shock victory
- Germany look sluggish in rare Group Stage defeat
- Coutinho special
- Zuber goal the result of offensive foul?
- Swiss do well to frustrate Brazil
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
Suddenly, the match between Sweden and South Korea takes on even greater importance following Mexico’s win against Germany. Those two sides play in Monday’s early game.
Later on, Group G begins with two David versus Goliath encounters as Belgium go up against Panama, in what is the Central American nation’s first-ever World Cup appearance and in the late game England and Tunisia face off.