Nigeria scraped through behind already-qualified Argentina,
becoming the first African team to reach the last 16 at this
tournament, while Switzerland also qualified along with France, who
drew 0-0 with Ecuador.
Shaqiri and Messi will cross paths on Tuesday when Argentina meet
Switzerland in their round of 16 match in Sao Paulo while France
face Nigeria in Brasilia on Monday.
Iran's hopes ended in a 3-1 loss to World Cup debutantes Bosnia, who
enjoyed their first win at the finals while the Luis Suarez biting
controversy rumbled on in the background.
Two days after Neymar scored twice in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Cameroon
on Monday, Messi replied with a brace of his own to leave the pair
as joint top scorers at the tournament with four goals.
While Nigeria celebrated qualification, there was less joy for
African elsewhere as Ghana became embroiled in a row over appearance
fees on the eve of their decisive Group G match against Portugal
which needed the intervention of President John Mahama.
In Porto Alegre, Messi lashed in a rebound after three minutes but
Nigeria equalised a minute later with a superb finish by Ahmed Musa.
But Messi was not to be outdone and curled in a brilliant 20-metre
freekick in first-half stoppage time.
Musa levelled again with a clever finish two minutes after the
restart but Argentina, who were assured of qualification before
kickoff, got a fortunate third eight minutes later when a corner
bounced in off the knee of Marcos Rojo.
Argentina finished top of Group F with a maximum nine points,
followed by Nigeria (4), Bosnia (3) and Iran (1).
Bosnia, already eliminated after two losses in their first
appearance at a major tournament since independence, went ahead in
the 23rd minute through Edin Dzeko.
Miralem Pjanic doubled their lead before Reza Ghoochannejhad pulled
a goal back for Iran in the 82nd minute and Avdija Vrsajevic
restored Bosnia's two-goal cushion with a fine strike a minute
Switzerland defied 88 percent humidity in steamy Manaus as they went
through from Group E.
Shaqiri fired Switzerland ahead in the sixth minute with a
long-range effort similar to Messi’s match-winning goal against
He struck again on the half hour with a clinical finish and rolled
in Josip Drmic’s pass in the second half to complete the
tournament’s second hat-trick following Thomas Mueller’s effort
It was also the 50th hat-trick in World Cup history.
The Swiss (6 points) took second place in Group E behind France (7)
who could not break down 10-man Ecuador, the only one of the sixth
South American teams to fall at the first hurdle.
[to top of second column]
Ecuador had Antonio Valencia sent off for a challenge on Lucas
Digne which left the France left back needing treatment in the
Away from the action on the pitch, Luis Suarez's lawyer flew to Rio
de Janeiro to present his defence after the Uruguay striker was
accused of biting opponent Giorgio Chiellini during the 1-0 win over
Italy on Tuesday.
"We're polishing off a defence argument," Alejandro Balbi told local
radio in Uruguay, where many people support Suarez and are angry at
what they feel is a "manhunt" being orchestrated by media in Europe.
FIFA said its disciplinary committee would work quickly to
investigate the incident, with Uruguay due to play Colombia on
Saturday in Rio de Janeiro in the last 16.
The group stage ends on Thursday when Germany and the United States,
who have four points each, meet in Recife (1600) where both will
qualify with a draw, while Portugal and Ghana, with one point each,
clash in Brasilia in the other Group G game.
Algeria (3 points) need a win against Russia (1) in Curitiba (1700)
to make sure of qualifying from Group H, although a draw should be
enough. South Korea (1) face already-qualified Belgium in Sao Paulo
and have only a remote chance of going through.
Ghana were expecting to receive their appearance fees after the
Ghana FA promised to send the money by plane.
"We wish to assure the general public following President Mahama's
intervention, the Black Stars are in high spirits," said the GFA in
“President Mahama personally spoke to the players to assure them
that the money will be paid by Wednesday afternoon which has brought
some assurance to the Black Stars.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris and Nigel Hunt)
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