Costa Rica Upsets Italy, Eliminates England; France destroys Switzerland

Friday, June 20, 2014
The ninth day of the World Cup was a disappointment for the English and their fans. Costa Rica, the Ticos, advanced to the knockout stage for only the second time in their history. In the 44th minute, Bryan Ruiz surprised the Italian keeper, Gianluigi Buffon, as he headed home a great crossing pass by Junior Diaz. The great Italian striker Mario Balotelli had three chances to give Italy the victory, but he failed, and England was eliminated as they needed Italy to win to have a chance. Italy faces Uruguay next Tuesday with the winner joining Costa Rica in the round of 16. If that game ends in a tie, Italy advances because they have a better goal differential than the Uruguayans.

In the second game of the day, the men of France- underdogs to Switzerland- jumped on the Swiss early and often. In the 17th minute, Olivier Giroud put the forehead to the orb and his header gave France a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later, French superstar Karim Benzema kicked a pretty pass to Blaise Matuidi and the French midfielder kept his poise, slamming the ball past an outstretched Diego Benaglio for a quick 2-0 lead that left the Swiss stunned. And they were left for dead in the 40th minute when Olivier Giroud took a long pass, turned on the afterburners on the left side of the pitch, and fed Mathieu Valbuena with a honey of a pass that he slammed home. France led 3-0 and went on to win 5-2 to advance into the knockout stage.

And in Friday's final match of the day, Ecuador took on Honduras in a battle of two winless teams. Honduras scored its first goal in a World Cup game since 1986, 510 minutes with a marker until Carlo Costly scored in the 31st minute, Honduras led 1-0. But Ecuadorian star Enner Valencia was in the right place at the right time in both the 34th minute and the 65th minute to keep Ecuador's hopes of advancing alive in Group E. The final score was 2-1. If Ecuador can beat France next Wednesday, they can advance to the knockout round. If they lose, and Switzerland either ties or beats Honduras, then the Swiss go to the round of 16 with France.

There are three matches on Saturday. Argentina can advance to the knockout round with a win over winless Iran at 11 a.m. CST, followed by Germany taking on Ghana at 2 p.m. CST and then the 5 p.m. game is Nigeria facing Bosnia-Herzegovina. I have Argentina, Germany, and Bosnia-Herzegovina all winning. After 26 matches, my prediction record is 16-10. Have a great Saturday everyone!

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Since joining ABC7 in 1982, Jim Rose has become a major force in Chicago sports broadcasting. He currently serves as sports anchor/reporter for ABC7 News in Chicago's top-rated 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts. He is an avid fan of the World Cup! Learn more about Jim
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