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What exactly was the deal with the World Cup Round of 16 matches and late goals/extra-time/penalties? Were teams deliberately not trying to score?

No, not really. You could forgive them for being a bit cautious with so much riding on each result but you can’t honestly say any of the teams involved were less than committed because the truth is they all went for it at different stages during their matches (Switzerland aside) and seemed to cancel each other out to a large extent.

We covered the first four games earlier in the week, where Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands were confirmed quarterfinalists, but we had to wait until late last night to see who the final of the four other teams to join them would be (sorry for the delay in posting this... it has been busy at TNT Towers... and we needed some beauty sleep).

Yesterday's games determined who'll meet in quarterfinal 3, with Argentina beating Switzerland 1-0 in extra-time and Belgium overcoming the USA, again in extra-time, 2-1.

A day earlier it was a similar story as quarterfinal 1 was confirmed, with France leaving it late - until the last 10 minutes of the 90 actually - to open the scoring against Nigeria before eventually winning 2-0. Germany meanwhile survived a huge test against Algeria, overcoming the African underdogs thanks to extra-time goals from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil.

Pogba's goal put France ahead

The France game wasn’t a classic but it wasn't without incident either. Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike had put his side in front but his effort was (perhaps wrongly) ruled out for offside. France though gradually started to exert pressure and a couple of wonder saves from Vincent Enyeama (and the crossbar) helped keep Didier Deschamps' men at bay. In the end it was the Nigeria keeper's error that gifted France their opener – and it was a headed goal from Paul Pogba. The lead was extended virtue of own goal from Joseph Yobo.

Who they would meet in the quarterfinals was decided in the day's next match - Germany vs Algeria. Okay, we shouldn't be surprised that the eventual winners were Germany, but they were very (very) lucky to progress against the North Africans. The three-time champions lacked any real urgency throughout the 90 minutes, looked vulnerable at the back and were in fact second-best for large parts of the game. Germany frequently looked rattled but the energetic Algeria wasted countless chances in an open and exciting encounter before Schurrle opened the scoring in extra-time (his goal looked like a fluke on first viewing but replays showed it was a class finish). The rest is history and Germany progressed.

They’ll meet France on Friday and were we betting men (or women) we’d put a few quid on les bleus reaching the semi finals.

Ozil looks pleased with his goal

That brings us nicely onto yesterday’s games where Argentina took on Switzerland and Belgium faced the US.

Argentina was the first side to progress on the day, overcoming Switzerland 1-0. But it was another less than convincing display. They dominated possession in a turgid clash but were unable to break Switzerland down until a bit of genius from (yep, who else?) Lionel Messi put Angel Di Maria through to score. Switzerland nearly struck back, but Blerim Dzemaili's header crashed against the woodwork.

How do you spell genius? M-E-S-S-I 

The late kick-off saw Belgium take on the US and it was Belgium's so-called golden generation that came out on top - despite a valiant effort from Tim Howard (we lost count of the number of saves he made, but apparently it was the most ever in a World Cup game!).

The match was as brilliant as Howard’s performance and Belgium walked away deserving winners in the end, but it was a brave showing from the US.

It was another game decided in extra-time. Kevin de Bruyne was the man that finally broke the US resistance two minutes into the extra 30 and Lukaku fired in a second 11 minutes later. The US didn't go out with a whimper and a goal from promising youngster Julian Green (watch out for him in future World Cups) gave them hope of a comeback. But it wasn't to be as Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones both missed chances to take the game to penalties.

Argentina plays Belgium on Saturday.

A Barack Obama lookalike dressed as Captain America can't believe the US crashed out


FIFA WORLD CUP QUATERFINALS

Friday July 4

France vs Germany 17:00

Brazil vs Colombia 21:00

Saturday July 5

Argentina vs Belgium 17:00

Netherlands vs Costa Rica 21:00

 

Images via Getty


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2014 World Cup: France, Germany, Argentina and Belgium join list of quarterfinalists
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