World Cup Day 4 featured late-game heroics, technology put to the test and Messi the maestro. Here's a look back:
MESSI MAGIC LIFTS ARGENTINA
Lionel Messi was having a forgettable night at the Maracana office until reminding us all why he's considered to be among the greatest to ever play the game. Messi's superb goal helped Argentina to a 2-1 win over pesky Bosnia-Herzegovina and got his World Cup started off on the right foot.
It was his left foot that did the heavy lifting, though, as he coasted by three defenders and laced a lefty blast low and inside the post to give Argentina a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute. St. Louis University product Vedad Ibisevic made it interesting late with his nation's first World Cup goal, but the night belonged to the Argentines and their maestro. As Jonathan Wilson writes, it took a tactical switch to free Messi and Argentina to be at their best.
GOAL-LINE TECH COMES THROUGH
The way France-Honduras unfolded, it was likely Les Bleus' game to have regardless, but they were given an assist by goal-line technology with the game still in the balance.
Leading 1-0 in the second half (while also up a man following Wilson Palacios' 43rd-minute dismissal), France doubled its lead when Karim Benzema's volley pinged off the far crossbar and then off Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and crept over the line before Valladares could pull the ball out. Replays and screenshots were inconclusive, but goal-line technology confirmed the goal, and France was on its way.
While Benzema didn't get credit for that strike (it was an own goal on Valladares), he finished off a masterful performance with a late goal to lead the French to the top of Group E with a 3-0 win. Now if only the national anthems had been played before the game.
SEFEROVIC'S LAST-SECOND HEROICS
Switzerland, out to prove it is no fluke after being a seeded team in December's World Cup draw, was surely headed for a 1-1 tie with Ecuador. One final, determined push, though, could make the difference between the Swiss being three-and-out and them going to the knockout round.
After Ecuador's Michael Arroyo hesitated with a chance on one end Valon Behrami stole possession and absorbed a would-be foul (the advantage was played) to spark a last-gasp surge, with Ricardo Rodriguez's cross finding Haris Seferovic on the doorstep for a one-timed winner.
Both teams could have been content with a draw. Instead, we have still yet to see a draw in this World Cup, the Swiss have the 2-1 win and three points and Ecuador is left ruing its missed chance.
An aerial view as Switzerland snuffs out Ecuador's late chance and creates one of its own for the win:
Who needs goal-line technology when you can just hear it straight from the source?
Trust me. Goal. #ballin— brazuca (@brazuca) June 15, 2014
WHAT'S ON DECK (all times ET)
- Germany and Portugal open the Group of Death in Salvador, with Cristiano Ronaldo claiming he is 100 percent ready to go (12 p.m., ESPN/Univision).
- Nigeria and Iran round out the first batch of games for Group F, each looking to keep pace with Argentina in Curitiba (3 p.m., ESPN/Univision).
- Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. men's national team is out to exact revenge for two straight World Cup ousters, clashing with African nemesis Ghana in Natal (6 p.m., ESPN/Univision). SI's Brian Straus writes on how the U.S. is ready for anything -- weather conditions included -- in its opener.