[BRAZIL 2014] Sunday's three games produced a vintage Lionel Messigoal at Maracana Stadium, the first-ever Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup goal, scored by Vedad Ibisevic, the pride of Saint Louis University, and the latest goal ever scored in group play, a stunning winner for Switzerland. In Porto Alegre, the new goal-line technology worked, making up for the fact the audio system failed, meaning there were no national anthems.
LIONEL MESSI.After a rather quiet game for 60 minutes, Messi delivered to the delight of tens of thousands of Argentine fans in the crowd of 74,738 at Rio's Maracana Stadium on hand for Argentina's opener against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The decisive goal in the 2-1 victory was vintage Messi. He played a one-two to pick up speed and gain a yard on his marker and space to his left, taking several steps to beat two defenders and line up his shot past a third defender and BiH's Canadian keeper Asmir Begovic.
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GOALS GALORE.The first 11 games have produced 37 goals for an average of 3.36 goals per game. All three of Sunday's game produced three goals. Every game except the Mexico-Cameroon match has produced three or more goals -- and El Tri should have had three goals. That's nine games in a row and 10 out of 11 games with three or more games and at least one goal in the first half. The third-minute own goal in the Argentina-Bosnia-Herzegovina game was the fastest in the tournament.
FIRST GOAL MATCH (SCORE)
3rd minute Argentina-Bosnia-Herze. (2-1)
6th minuteColombia-Greece (3-0)
11th minute Brazil-Croatia (3-1)
12th minute Chile-Australia (3-1)
16th minuteIvory Coast-Japan (2-1)
22nd minute Switzerland-Ecuador (2-1)
24th minuteCosta Rica-Uruguay (3-1)
27th minuteNetherlands-Spain (5-1)
35th minute Italy-England (2-1)
45th minute France-Honduras (3-0)
62nd minute Mexico-Cameron (1-0)
GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY.FIFA has introduced goal-line technology for the 2014 World Cup, and it was called up to validate Karim Benzema's goal in the 48th minute of France's 3-0 win over Honduras. It was actually an own goal -- robbing the Real Madrid star of a hat trick in his World Cup debut -- as his shot hit the far post and rebounded straight into keeper Noel Valladares' hands, but the Catracho keeper couldn't keep the ball out of the goal. The goal-line technology showed the initial shot had not crossed the line but the rebound did.
VEDAD IBISEVIC.Ibisevic's late goal off the bench was not enough to prevent Bosnia-Herzegovina from going down to Argentina in its World Cup debut, but it caps what has been a remarkable career two decades after he fled the Bosnia War that left 21 Ibisevics dead. His family settled in St. Louis, where he was the Soccer America Freshman of the Year at Saint Louis University before embarking on a successful career in Europe.
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VALON BEHRAMI.There was a Donovanesque-like quality to Switzerland's winning goal against Ecuador, the latest goal ever scored in the group stage of the World Cup. It began when Michael Arroyo's last-gasp charge was broken up by Valon Behramiin the Swiss penalty area. Behrami led the Swiss counterattack -- getting back to his feet and playing on after being fouled and going flying to the ground. Haris Seferovic finished the play off with a shot at the near post that left the Ecuadorans stunned.
COMEBACKS. Switzerland's 2-1 win over Ecuador was the fifth comeback win in the four three days. By comparison, only three teams came back from 1-0 deficits to win in the entire 2010 World Cup. (Uruguay's quarterfinal win over Ghana came in a shootout.)
HONDURAS.Concacaf came into Sunday's Honduras-France game with a perfect record at the World Cup, but the Catrachos ruined that with an ugly performance. Not only where they never in the game and lucky to lose only by 3-0, but they were lucky to finish with only one red card, to Wilson Palacios.
FIFA 1.The first game at Porto Alegre's Estadio Beira-Rio got off to bad start when a technical glitch meant that there were no national anthems before the France-Honduras game. FIFA's response: It was "very sorry" the audio system didn't work. France defender Mamadou Sakho said he thought organizers would have fixed the problem if Brazil was playing. "We're very proud to sing it, to represent our country," said Sakho, born in Paris to Senegalese immigrants. "But you have to rise above it. We heard the crowd were singing it, and that was very touching."
La Marseillaise ...
FIFA 2.FIFA instituted heightened security measures following an incident involving fireworks at the Chile-Australia game, but it meant that thousands of fans missed the first part of the Switzerland-Ecuador match at Brasilia's Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha because of long lines to get through security. Most aggrieved were Ecuadoran fans who missed Enner Valencia's goal in the 22nd minute -- those early goals again.