[BRAZIL 2014] Costa Rica planted the Concacaf flag at the top of Group D as the Ticos took down Italy and sent England packing. France got goals from five different players in a 5-2 win over Switzerland but could have had many more goals against the Nati. Ecuador's comeback win over Honduras extended the Catrachos' record futility at the World Cup.
TICOS. Group D was dubbed the Group
of Death with three former World Cup champions, England, Italy and Uruguay, plus Costa Rica, which had gotten out out of the first round once in its history. All the Ticos have done is beat Uruguay,
3-1, and Italy, 1-0, and eliminate England in the process. "Maybe there are a lot of people who didn't have faith in us because we were in the Group of Death," said Costa Rica's Colombian coach, Jorge Luis Pinto. "But it’s the others who are dead and we’re going to the next round."
REST OF THE WORLD. Costa Rica's win over Italy continued the mastery of teams from the Americas against teams from the rest of the world. If you throw out last Sunday's Group E results --
France's 3-0 win over Honduras and Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Ecuador in stoppage time -- the Americas is a perfect 10-0-0 against the rest of the world.
PPG CONFEDERATION (W-T-L)
2.27 South America (8-1-2)
1.86 Concacaf (4-1-2)
1.38 Europe (9-2-10)
0.57 Africa (1-1-5)
0.50 Asia (0-3-3)
KARIM BENZEMA. The official stats on the French center forward in two games are three goals and
two assists. He scored the first and third goals in the 3-0 win over Honduras and the fourth goal in the 5-2 win over Switzerland on Friday and added two assists against the Swiss. But on top of that,
the own goal against Honduras came when his shot caromed off the far post and deflected off goalie Noel Valladares into the goal. Against the Swiss, he also had
a penalty kick saved by Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio and a second goal nullified when the referee blew the whistle to end the game.
G PLAYER, TEAM
3+1 Karim Benzema, France
3 Thomas Mueller, Germany
3 Arjen Robben, Netherlands
3+2 ENNER VALENCIA, Ecuador
3 Robin van Persie, Netherlands
HONDURAS. The Catrachos ended their drought of going 510 minutes without a goal when Carlo Costly
(formerly of the Houston Dynamo) scored. But their lead lasted all of two minutes, and they went down to Ecuador, 2-1. The loss extended the Hondurans' record of having played more World Cup
games (8) without a win than any other country.
The Nati was exposed in a game against France (ranked No. 17) that ended 5-2 but that was only close thanks to two goals in the last nine minutes. Frankly, it could have been a lot worse as the
French peppered the beleaguered Benaglio for 16 shots on goal. Said Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, "This is a black day for the Switzerland team."
EUROPE'S TOP SIX. Losses by Italy to Costa Rica (ranked No. 28) and Switzerland to France (No. 17) dropped the record of the top six European teams in the FIFA rankings
to three wins and seven losses in 10 games at the World Cup. (The two games between themselves: Germany's win over Portugal and Italy's win over England). The only other win was Switzerland's 2-1
comeback win over Ecuador (No. 26).