Day 7 of the World Cup saw a champion's last act and a boatload of goals, including one from down under that was way above the rest:
SPAIN'S REIGN ENDS IN PAIN
The fact that Spain's World Cup ended in the Maracana shouldn't surprise anyone. That it ended a solid three weeks prior to when the final will be played there? That's a different story. The defending champions are two-games-and-out after a second straight drab showing. Full credit to Jorge Sampaoli's Chile, which took the game to Spain, capitalized on errors and fully earned the three points and a place in the knockout round. And while attention will turn to Chile and its attempt to go on a deep run while looking every bit the part, the focus remains on Spain. As Jonathan Wilson writes, Wednesday marked the sudden end to a dominant era for La Furia Roja.
ORANJE SURVIVE SOCCEROO SCARE
The Dutch are also through to the knockout stage from Group B, but not without an unforeseen scare. After smoking Spain 5-1, it was thought that the Netherlands would ease by Australia. But Tim Cahill's unbelievable volley and a second-half penalty put the Aussies ahead 2-1. No matter. Robin van Persie scored his third goal of the competition to equalize, and 20-year-old substitute Memphis Depay scored the winner on a scorcher from distance to keep Louis van Gaal's side on course for top billing in a deep group with a 3-2 win. That'll be decided in a group finale against Chile, where the teams will likely be fighting to avoid facing Brazil in the first knockout round.
CROATIA CREATES GROUP A DRAMA
Croatia and Mexico's Group A finale is likely to send one team into the knockout stage and one team home. That's because the Croatians took care of business in a big way against a lackluster Cameroon side, one that had more effective shots on one another (see: Benoit Assou-Ekotto's headbutt on teammate Benjamin Moukandjo) than it did on Croatia's goal.
Alex Song's red card changed the tone of the match completely, allowing Croatia to attack at will, which it did in the 4-0 rout. In his return from a suspension, Mario Mandzukic scored two goals, and now Croatia has set up what should be a thrilling do-or-die encounter vs. El Tri, while Cameroon is bowing out of the World Cup in shameful fashion for a second straight tournament.
Chile fans rampage through the Maracana media center trying to enter the stadium for the clash vs. Brazil as journalists scramble to document via videos and photos. SI's Greg Bishop was there and has a first-hand account of what occurred.
Pulling double duty between Goodison Park and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. could prove to be a challenge...
Biden/Howard 2016, the dream ticket!! Lol pic.twitter.com/Kyed8WwdfX— tim howard (@TimHowardGK) June 18, 2014
WHAT'S ON DECK (all times ET)
- Colombia returns to action after a riveting showing in its opener, taking on Ivory Coast in a meeting of Group C's top two teams (12 p.m., ESPN/Univision).
- Uruguay and England meet in the day's headliner, with Luis Suarez expected back for La Celeste as both teams jockey for Group D positioning after losing to Costa Rica and Italy, respectively (3 p.m., ESPN/Univision).
- Two more winless sides, Japan and Greece, meet looking to improve on disappointing opening Group C showings (6 p.m., ESPN/Univision).