Eyes down for a full house, then, everybody. It’s time for the final round of group matches in Group C this evening, and a place in the Second Round of the competition up for grabs for three of the four teams playing this evening. The other of the four in this group, Colombia, has already qualified for the next round of the competition and has been one of the most impressive teams that we have seen so far. As such, we might well argue that Japan, their opponents this evening, have the most difficult job of all to get through. They need to win and hope that the result of the other match, between Greece and Cote d’Ivoire, goes their way as well. It would need to end in a draw. I think. There will be plenty of complicated maths to come this evening, this much we know for sure, and you can keep up to speed with what’s going on in the luxuriant company of Rob Freeman and Ian King from shortly before nine o’clock.

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Mark June 24, 201411:10 pm

Lineker having a mare. Delayed links and now calls Martinez’s goal for Colombia the 24th by a sub in this tournament – a record. Two things. Martinez scored twice. And he wasn’t a sub tonight. Who is telling him these things?

Ian June 24, 201411:09 pm

First Luis Suarez, now this. We’ve been a little bit spolit this evening, I think. I mean, even that terrible glop between Italy and Uruguay shook itself awake in some form of weird death rattle, in the end.

Then there was that. Greece hit the bar twice and the post once. They look great on the break, while Cote d’Ivoire looked a little frozen by it all. They were very slick until the final third of the pitch, and then ran out of ideas. The one time they got it right, they scored. But, you know, perhaps Samaras deserves to go through just for that last gasp penalty kick.

Ted June 24, 201410:59 pm

Robbie Savage, meanwhile, has his left arm lurking behind Murphy’s seat as though he’s just about to put some moves on him in a drive-in cinema.

Ted June 24, 201410:58 pm

WE COULD HAVE PLAYED GREECE, mopes Danny Murphy, whose initial good impression seems to be seeping away by osmosis after 90 minutes sat between Shearer and Savage

Rob June 24, 201410:55 pm

All four teams in the top quarter of the draw are South American.

Ted June 24, 201410:55 pm

Well, that definitely explains it. There’s no way you could tell orange from white on a black and white telly.

Sepp Blatter, man. What a

Ian June 24, 201410:55 pm

Hell’s bells, what a great game. And Greece played as well as I can remember having seen them play. They shaded it, in all honesty, even in terms of their attacking football.

Rob June 24, 201410:54 pm

Ivory Coast are wearing their away kit, because each side has a “light” kit and a “dark” kit. One team wears light, the other dark, so that those who are still watching on black & white TV can identify the teams.

Mark June 24, 201410:54 pm

Colombia win 4-1 but I’ll tell you about that another time… Greece is the word.

Ted June 24, 201410:53 pm

Boubacar Barry is going to be as sick as a pig dog, he SO nearly got a hand to it. Giovanni Sio is going to have some explaining to do.

Ian June 24, 201410:53 pm

The goalkeeper went the right way, but Samaras showed what I just described on Twitter as “BALLS OF TITANIUM” there.

Mark June 24, 201410:52 pm


Ted June 24, 201410:52 pm

Could Giorgios Samaras be a football genius? (No).

Rob June 24, 201410:52 pm

Samaras scores and Greece are almost certainly through.

Ted June 24, 201410:51 pm


Ian June 24, 201410:50 pm

Definite penalty, too.

Ted June 24, 201410:50 pm

Penalty to Greece in stoppage time! Sio has totally Phil Nevilled it.

Rob June 24, 201410:50 pm

Greece have a penalty in added time.

Ted June 24, 201410:49 pm

Why the hell are Ivory Coast in their change colours tonight? Sorry, this has only just dawned on me. I’m a sharp one.

Mark June 24, 201410:49 pm

4-1. Lovely finish from Little Himmy Rod, after yet another break. So…Colombia…genuine contenders or flat track bullies? Or both?

Ted June 24, 201410:48 pm

I reckon he’s got another two or three World Cups in him yet.

Ian June 24, 201410:47 pm

*Does the ‘He’s at least 15 months older than me’ dance*

Ted June 24, 201410:46 pm

Faryd Mondragon is the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup Finals. To put it in some context, he was the goalkeeper when England played Colombia at France 98.

Mark June 24, 201410:45 pm

Shinji Kagawa misses a great chance to respond immediately. So it looks like “sayonara” to Nippon. Colombia substitute their keeper, which hints at a certain confidence, don’t you think? Especially as the keeper’s about 83…

Mark June 24, 201410:42 pm

3-1 Colombia, Martinez getting his second from another swift break. For all Japan’s pressure – and there’s been lots – Colombia’s “first” team may well have scored on the break before now. Japan on the way OOT.

Ian June 24, 201410:39 pm

And now Karazidis catches Barry off his line, sending in a low cross that thuds out off his near post. That’s three times they’ve hit the woodwork, now.

Barry is not having a great game. He was really one of those at fault for Greece’s goal.

Ian June 24, 201410:37 pm

One in seventy-three thousand hours, or whatever it is for Greece. They’ve thirteen minutes plus stoppages to find one now and, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t put it past them, because they’ve looked as good going forward tonight as I can remember them having been.

Mark June 24, 201410:37 pm

Chances at both ends as Colombia continue to threaten on the break while Japan rain shots in on goal, well, drizzle them in.

Ian June 24, 201410:33 pm

Cote d’Ivoire are level, and they’re into second place in the group. Wilfred Bony, from Gervinho’s touch inside in the left. Very simple, when it came down to it.

Mark June 24, 201410:29 pm

Keown reckons he “ballooned it.” Keown does not know what a balloon is. Or what a balloon HE is.

Rob June 24, 201410:28 pm

Karagounis fires a shot against the crossbar from fully thirty yards out.

Mark June 24, 201410:26 pm

Okubu, though, is going the other way, firing over from six yards. Don’t know what Pearce is saying but I’m guessing the game is getting “stretched.”

Mark June 24, 201410:22 pm

Colombia’s Balanta elbows Okazaki plumb on the nose. Ref doesn’t see it. Glad I’ve got the sound down on Pearce. Ospina punches away a Honda free-kick. His setpieces are getting better and closer.

Mark June 24, 201410:19 pm

Okubu not far off heading Japan level. There’s still goals in them.

Rob June 24, 201410:16 pm

I’ve just eaten a Colombian banana. Will this have any impact on the games?

Mark June 24, 201410:15 pm

Little Himmy looking a class above in his early minutes. Fellow sub Carbonero wastes one chance but Jackson Martinez doesn’t waste the next. Deflected left-foot shot. 2-1 Colombia.

Ian June 24, 201410:13 pm

Lazaros goes on a pleasingly jinky run that ends in him getting his shot – with the outside of the foot – a little wrong and the ball flies a few feet wide.

Ian June 24, 201410:08 pm

Ed, I bit Kevin. He seemed to quite like it.

Mark June 24, 201410:06 pm

Cuadrado and Quintero off for Colombia. Told you…er…
James/Hames/little Himmy Rodriguez on though.

Ted June 24, 201410:06 pm

I missed the first half, has anyone bitten anyone else yet?

Mark June 24, 201410:03 pm

Miserable git, aren’t I?

Mark June 24, 201410:02 pm

Lineker tells us that Greece could be the first team to qualify from a WC group scoring only one goal since Poland in 1986. “Always good to remember that group” says Lineker, whose hat-trick against Poland got England through it. But in taking the jocular option, he – the broadcast journalist – misses the story. Poland went through in THIRD in 1986 as a “best” loser (only 24 teams in those long ago days). Greece in SECOND with one goal is more of an “achievement.”

Mark June 24, 20149:56 pm

Japan fan wearing his nation’s flag as a hat, his red-painted head poking through the red sun. Looks fab. I think. Camera focuses on him but a Colombian fan decides the world wants to see him instead. He’s wrong.

Rob June 24, 20149:49 pm

Shinji Okazaki heads Japan level in the other game from a Honda cross with the last touch of the first half.

Mark June 24, 20149:49 pm

And 64 seconds into 60 seconds stoppage time, Japan equalise, great header from Okazaki. Doesn’t stop Greece in itself. But Japan look to have a second goal in them. Although they are VERY susceptible on the break. Fortunately, most of the Colombian squad players are NOT belying their status…including Quintero.

Rob June 24, 20149:44 pm

Cheick Tiote the guilty party there.

Ian June 24, 20149:43 pm

Sloppy in the middle from Cote d’Ivoire, Samaris breaks and Greece lead by a goal to nil.

Run of play, schmun of play.

Mark June 24, 20149:43 pm

Blimey. As Jackson Martinez misses Colombia’s second-best chance…Greece go second. Ian?

Mark June 24, 20149:42 pm

11 shots to 2 for Japan. And the pink stripes on their shirts’ shoulders are very badly drawn.

Ian June 24, 20149:36 pm

Greece have woken up. END TIMES!

Ian June 24, 20149:34 pm

…and Karagounis’ shot is comfortably save. Held onto the ball, as well, which is something of a rarity for this tournament, so far.

Rob June 24, 20149:34 pm

Greece breakaway almost leads to a goal. Holebas’ shot cannons of the bar, and the rebound pings towards Samaras, who is brought down for a free-kick just outside the box, which is fired straight into Bourbacar Barry’s arms.

Ian June 24, 20149:33 pm

Woof! Greece break from out of nowhere and Maniatis hits the crossbar. Almost snapped it, the speed the ball was going at. Samaras is fouled in the follow-up, and now Greece have a free kick twenty yards out…

Mark June 24, 20149:31 pm

Half an hour gone and Japan pushing for an equaliser. Its coming. Sort of. Honda just wide from Japan’s 8th or 9th free-kick from 20-25 yards.

Ian June 24, 20149:31 pm

Oddly, considering that they have DidDrog starting for them, Cote d’Ivoire don’t look as if they have a great deal of attacking bite.


Mark June 24, 20149:30 pm

Appalling penalty box dive by Quintero. Even with the sound down I can hear Pearce complaining.

Mark June 24, 20149:26 pm

Colombian keeper Ospina saves well from Kagawa. Colombian defence looks clumsy and disjointed. Apart from that…

Mark June 24, 20149:23 pm

A Colombian defensive wall so far back that Honda’s latest free-kick was on the way down before it reached it.

Rob June 24, 20149:20 pm

And what a pointless penalty given away too. Running away from goal without having the ball under control, before being bundled over. And bundled is exactly the way Ramos went down.

Mark June 24, 20149:20 pm

Japan will have to throw bodies forward, which, relatively, they had been doing anyway. Zaccehroni looks like he’s recalling that flight with Lawrenson. Bet the nun knew more about football.

Mark June 24, 20149:18 pm

Japan did. But penalty Colombia. Konno on Ramos. Cuadrado scores.

Rob June 24, 20149:16 pm

You can’t be offside direct from a corner, no. Nor a throw-in. Not even a Dave Challinor throw in. Although I did once see a linesman flag someone offside from one once.

Ian June 24, 20149:15 pm

I don’t think you can, no. Quite asides from anything else, doesn’t the ball have to be played forward for offside to be possible?

(I could be wayyyy out of date on the laws, there)

Rob June 24, 20149:15 pm

I’ve just realised what the modern version of Greek mythology is. Them scoring a goal. They’re being very defensive bearing in mind they need to win to go through.

Mark June 24, 20149:14 pm

Quick question. Can you be offside direct from a corner? Because if you can, Japan just were. No flag, though.
Plenty of skill but little “end product. Okuba shot on the turn the closest to a goal threat.

Ian June 24, 20149:10 pm

Nine minutes in, and Cote d’Ivoire are a bit of a joy to watch. Greece are being Greece, of course. Though there’s a tiny part of me that wants them to somehow crowbar their way through to the next round. That would piss off *all* the right people.

Ian June 24, 20149:02 pm

Cote d’Ivoire’s goalkeeper is wearing the number two shirt. Leaving aside lavatorial jokes – I dare say I’ll return to them later, should they be required – I’m undecided over whether this is my favourite shirt numbering thing of the tournament or my least favourite.

Mark June 24, 20149:02 pm

Lawrenson has just told a story about himself, Japan coach Zaccheroni and a nun on a plane. He was on a plane with Japan coach Zaccheroni and a nun and…er…that’s the story. GET. HIM. OFF. He’s calling Pearce “JP” too.
Time of first bit of righteous Suraez indignation: 57 seconds.

Ian June 24, 20148:58 pm

Evening, Markity-Mark. I kind of feel obliged to watch Greece vs Cote d’Ivoire, but Greece, man. They’re not going to rock my world, are they?

Mark June 24, 20148:45 pm

Quintero starts in a shadow Colombia side. But Cuadrado is still in. Should be exciting.