We didn't know it when the day started, but today we said farewell to two great players in the World Cup, Andrea Pirlo and Didier Drogba, as their nations bowed out today.
Uruguay 1-0 Italy: This was, in truth, an extremely poor game. Uruguay are a limited side who have to play deep because of their slow defense, try to score off long balls forward to Suarez, or set pieces. But Italy were almost uniformly terrible, trying to slow the pace of an already slow game at every opportunity, and looked totally out of sorts playing an unfamiliar formation with two strikers, Balotelli and Immobile, who seemed to operate on different islands. (Super Mario picked up a yellow and was withdrawn at the break before he could earn another--he looked totally out of sorts).
Uruguay went with three men at the back, and relied on Cavani to essentially man-mark Pirlo out of the game, which he largely did. The Celeste were pretty poor themselves, but gained an important advantage when Marchisio was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Arevalo Rios in the 59th minute. It looked an obvious red to me, though the Italians didn't think so.
The Celeste should have taken the lead a couple of times, Buffon denying Suarez once, Rodriguez shooting wide--while Italy seemed content to try to waste time at every opportunity. In the last 15 minutes the match almost boiled over, as the Mexican referee, who had been poor all game, seemed to be unable to control proceedings. First, Italian midfielder Verratti, who had been playing hurt for a while, went down (again) and yet the medical staff didn't come on, the game was halted for easily two minutes before he was stretchered off and substituted, as the Uruguay players questioned why proceedings were being halted for so long.
Three minutes later came the incident everyone is talking about, when Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini came together in the penalty area, the italian claiming Suarez bit him. The video evidence is not totally conclusive, but if Suarez didn't bite him, then what was he doing, exactly? Much milling about, but the referee took no action or as far as I remember even talked to Chiellini. This was probably because the Italian had been making a meal out of every challenge he'd received during the match (going down under perfectly legitimate challenges, his hands to his face, seemed his stock-in-trade today).
Just when I had finished telling my wife that Italy could probably hold out unless Uruguay could score off a corner, they duly were awarded a corner, and that man Diego Godin headed the ball past Buffon to give Uruguay the lead in the 81st minute. It was rather reminiscent of his goal against Barcelona, and his goal against Real Madrid.
Uruguay should have put the game away as Italy pressed forward, Suarez ruining a 3-on-1 chance by trying to do it all himself and another break coming to nothing because of a poor pass. Italy's last gasp was a free kick which Andrea Pirlo aimed at Buffon, who had come up for the attack, but it was cleared.
In the aftermath, Italian coach Prandelli blamed the referee, he blamed the game times and the climate. Buffon was more to the point, saying Italy deserved to lose, and some players showed up, others did not. Prandelli resigned after the game. Now we wait to see what punishment if any is meted out to Suarez (having seen another angle of the incident later, there's no doubt in my mind he did do what he's accused of).
Greece 2-1 Ivory Coast
Yet again, Ivory Coast's golden generation underwhelms. For a team that was supposed to be limited in attack, Greece did pretty well, though they have to learn the object of the game is to put the ball between the posts rather than hit them (they had three shots bounce off the woodwork).
Ivory Coast have only themselves to blame, though. An elementary turnover from Tiote gifted the Greeks a fast-break goal, and after sub Wilfred Bony had tied it up, Sie's challenge on Samuras created a penalty in the second minute of injury time. Samuras duly converted and the Africans were out. A Greek miracle.
In the other matches, Costa Rica 0-0 England and Colombia 4-1 Japan. The Blue Samurai get my pick as the most surprisingly overmatched team in the tournament. So Costa Rica will play Greece in the round of 16! Wonder how many people had that prediction.