On day 4 of the World Cup:
Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1 - earlier full-time result
|Last-gasp heroics: Switzerland celebrate their late winner in the dying seconds of extra-time|
Strong favourites France play against the underdogs of the group in the form of Honduras, who notably drew with England last weekend in an international friendly.
They are not exactly going to be pushovers, a physical side who know how to defend but can counter attack at any time.
Subs: Ruffier, Cabella, Giroud, Mavuba, Mangala, Sagna, Digne, Sissoko, Remy, Koscielny, Schneiderlin and Landreau.
Honduras: Valladares, Beckeles, Bernardez, Figueroa, Izaguirre, Najar, Wilson Palacios, Garrido, Espinoza, Bengtson and Costly.
Subs: Lopez, Osman Chavez, Montes, Juan Garcia, Jerry Palacios, Mario Martinez, Delgado, Oscar Garcia, Rony Martinez, Claros, Marvin Chavez and Escober.
Referee: Sandro Meira Ricci (from Brazil)
19:55 - France with a solid line-up, Arsenal duo Koscielny and Giroud are both among the substitutes on the bench as Benzema starts up-top alongside Real Sociedad winger Griezmann, who makes his competitive debut for Les Bleus tonight.
19:56 - Honduras will not be expected to win the match today, but if they can get in-behind the France defence and trouble their opponents then who knows? We have already seen many shocks and upsets so far this World Cup, which promises to be one of the best yet.
5: Half-chance falls for France, Griezmann gets himself into a good position just outside the box and shapes to shoot, but the oncoming defender blocks the effort as Honduras partially clear.
6: A nasty looking knock between Evra and an approaching Najar, with the Manchester United man looking worse for wear after Marseille's creative midfielder Valbuena delivers in a teasing cross towards his team-mates and goalkeeper Valladares parries the ball away with his legs.
The referee brandishes the first yellow card of the match, Evra is booked for his late collision, which he caused albeit accidentally.
7: Encouraging to see that Evra is walking back onto the pitch, after receiving some treatment from the physio on the touchline. Looks like a sore one, but he'll jog it off.
10: France have an in-swinging free-kick from outside of the box, Valbuena set to take it.
11: The set-piece is momentarily delayed as the referee deals with some issues in the box, players getting physical as they try to mark their men and the French are eager to get on with it.
12: Resulting free-kick is dealt with by goalkeeper Valladares, he parries the delivery away from the area and Honduras eventually get it away.
13: Another hefty tackle, this time from Emillo Izaguirre who slides in late on Valbuena in almost the exact same position for a dangerous free-kick.
Honduras need to stop giving away needless fouls, France look dangerous going forward and they could make their opponents pay.
14: SAVE! And a good one aswell as PSG's defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi has a close-range effort which is parried onto the crossbar by Valladares. France are in the mood for goals tonight, you can see it.
16: A culmination of late tackles within minutes - first Palacios falls under the jump of Pogba, then Benzema is clattered in the air and Valbuena is late on Palacios. Players falling down to ground easily.
18: Les Bleus keep up the assault on Honduras' defence, Griezmann pushes forward with the ball at his feet and attempts a cross but nothing comes of it.
21: Good movement by Valbuena to beat his man, before Benzema loses the ball and it eventually bounces into the path of former Newcastle midfielder Cabaye, who mis-hits his shot and the ball trickles out for a goal-kick.
22: OFF THE BAR AGAIN! France could be 2-0 up already, this time from Griezmann with a jumping header at the far post which beats the keeper but not the woodwork.
24: CHANCE! France show the strength of the counter attack, after a failed delivery into their box is cleared away. Sakho heads the ball into safety, Matuidi races forward and finds Griezmann, who spots the run of team-mate Valbuena and gives him a good diagonal through ball.
Valbuena attempts to cut the ball back, Benzema shoots first-time and the ball flies over the bar.
26: CONTROVERSY: It's all kicking off now, and the referee has a huge decision to make now - Pogba runs forward with the ball at his feet, but Palacios un-necessarily kicks at him three times as he tries to win the ball off him when he is clearly not going to.
Pogba reacts badly to a late challenge, and he kicks at his leg in anger at the tackle. Palacios grabs his leg in apparent agony after the young Frenchman's trailing leg goes over the top of Palacios, and the referee neds to make a decision as to whether he sends off Palacios or Pogba, or even both now.
29: Luckily for the flow of the match, both players are just given a yellow card. Could have been much worse though.
31: And the incident has gone in Honduras' favour. France's momentum has delayed slightly since the challenge and they are playing the game more tentatively.
33: It may be frustrating to watch, but what Honduras are doing is effective I might add. Slowing the game down with physical challenges, stopping France from playing their game.
35: Half-chance for France again, Matuidi weaves his way past a Honduras defender and finds Griezmann who is blocked from taking a shot. Corner to France, second of the night.
37: Valbuena and Pogba have done very well for France today so far, still searching for the opening goal as of yet.
39: CHANCE! France press forward with Pogba on the ball, the Juventus midfielder weaves his way past two defenders on the edge of the line and he finds Debuchy who passes across to Benzema, his shot was blocked out for a corner.
40: A real problem for Honduras now. Debuchy's low cross is blocked by defender Victor Bernardez, who stays down on the ground as he appears to jolt his knee. Looks in painful, unlikely to continue past the first-half.
41: PENALTY! France with a clear penalty, no question about it.
A long ball falls into the path of Pogba, Palacios runs into the back of him and clearly bodychecks the young midfielder inside the area. The referee goes into his pocket, and sends Palacios off! Two yellow cards, one foul to many by the Stoke defensive-midfielder.
43: Benzema steps up to take it, as Honduras players stand on the line and try to distract the Real Madrid striker.
44: The referee blows his whistle, Benzema jogs to the spot.... GOAL! Powerful finish from the striker, his 22nd goal for his national side and a well-taken penalty on the stroke of half-time. Sends the keeper the wrong way, and Honduras will have to do well to get back into the match now.
|Well-taken finish: Benzema slots from the penalty spot to give France the lead.|
45+2: Cabaye is booked after a strong challenge on Jerry Bengston, arguably unlucky by the PSG midfielder.
45+3: The referee has blown the whistle for half-time. France lead by a goal to nil, and they could be 3 or 4-0 up. Griezmann and Matuidi both hit the crossbar, and Benzema had a few half-chances before he converted from the penalty spot.
21:05 - The second-half is poised, with two substitutions for Honduras:
Victor Bernardez OFF
Jerry Bengston OFF
Osman Chavez ON
Boniek Garcia ON
47: GOAL! France go on the counter attack, and Benzema doubles France's lead with a bullet finish at the far post from Valbuena's long-ball cross.
48: After careful deliberation, from video footage it has been confirmed that it IS a goal, despite the referee saying that the goal was not over the line and the linesman on the far side saying the opposite.
49: Goal-line technology has confirmed that it was actually a goal, and now they have credited Valladares for an own goal as he tries to fumble the ball off the line but it's already past him.
|Finally: Goal-line technology was used to decide whether Benzema's effort was in or not|
50: Definitely a goal though. France now 2-0 up, and comfortable.
|Over the line: Benzema celebrates the goal as soon as he hit it, he knew it was in!|
54: SAVE! And he's arguably kept his side in it after that one! Valladares makes up for his earlier mistake with a solid parry away after a lovely France move falls to the feet of Benzema inside the box thanks to an inviting cross from the flank by Griezmann.
The Real Madrid striker struggles to sort out his feet quickly enough but manages to have a pop at goal, Valladares reacts quickly to deal with it.
55: Another France counter attack almost ends up with another goal, this time from Valbuena after good link-up play with Benzema, the former has an ambitious finesse shot towards goal but his effort swerves away from goal.
57: First substitution of the match for France, as already booked young midfielder Paul Pogba is replaced by Newcastle powerhouse Moussa Sissoko.
Smart decision from Deschamps, Pogba has played well tonight but is already on a yellow card so it is the right thing to do, especially as Honduras are strong with their tackles and he does not want to lose his young gem to suspension in these group stage matches.
58: Final substitution of the match for Honduras comes, as winger Andy Najar is replaced by Jorge Claros. Najar has a lot of potential but has not seen a lot of the ball today and has been closed down well by the solid France defence whenever he has tried to get forward on the counter attack.
61: Honduras get men forward, but the potential of an attack from the side is quashed by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who commands his area and jumps highest to catch comfortably from an Izaquirre cross into the box.
63: France go inches from finishing off the match as a contest, a low cross by Evra into the box falls to the approaching Matuidi who hits the ball first-time, the ball hits the net - but the side netting. Almost the same as Sterling's optical illusion against Italy last night. Unlucky from France.
65: Another change for France -
Yohan Cabaye OFF
Rio Mavuba ON
The creator in the hub of midfield, Cabaye is replaced by Mavuba. Already on a yellow card, and hints at a knock from the sheer physicality of the match itself. 25 minutes to go, France are 2-0 up and looking comfortable so why risk it? Another smart move by Deschamps.
66: Cameras show that Cabaye is sitting on the French bench with an ice pack on his groin area, he could be struggling with a strain of some sort.
67: Honduras have their first real half-chance of the second-half, Boniek takes advantage of a sluggish clearance to speed past Sakho and has a snap-shot towards goal but Lloris stands his ground and holds the ball between his legs.
68: Ouch! Looks like a painful challenge, as Figueroa goes straight through a powerful tackle with Evra inside the area and goes off worse-for-wear afterwards.
70: Play restarts, after some of the French players get a quick drink as Figueroa gets back up to his feet.
71: A cynical sliding tackle from Figueroa as he slides in late on Valbuena from 20 yards out just outside the area. Looks bad, thankfully the Marseille man is not injured.
72: GOAL!! Benzema again! And that would be his hat-trick, if he was credited with the second effort earlier on.
A nicely-worked free-kick routine, a short pass lay-off by Valbuena who passes it towards Debuchy who hits the ball hard and low, deflects off a Honduras defender and bounces into the path of the Real Madrid striker who smashes the shot into the roof of the net without any hesitation. 3-0, and surely it's game over now?!
73: Cameras show that Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra is down on the turf injured, looking uncomfortable as the physio rush on to treat him. He looks like he has picked up an injury, and the stretcher is coming on.
75: FACT - If France score again before full-time, they will have improved on their biggest win at the World Cup since their 3-0 win over Brazil in 1998.
77: Good news as Evra will continue for the remainder of the match.
78: France SUB:
Mathieu Valbuena OFF
Olivier Giroud ON
Giroud replaces the hard-working Valbuena who has played very well tonight, for a 10-minute cameo. The Arsenal striker will be hoping that he can get on the scoresheet after not starting tonight ahead of Benzema.
80: FACT - 34 goals in the first 10 matches of the World Cup, first time since 1958.
85: France will be happy to see this game out, but it's hard for the game to flow easily with this constant array of fouls and late challenges, causing stoppages in play.
86: If the referee was any stricter than he is, I am confident that Honduras would barely have enough players on the field to continue. Very physical, late and leave lasting damage on their opponents. This time, Beckeles with a late sliding challenge on Giroud.
87: France have an in-swinging free-kick from 30 yards out, Griezmann to take.
88: Set-piece comes of nothing despite France moving players forward.
90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the match.
90+1: France go on the counter attack, and Honduras are let off as Matuidi lashes at a shot just outside the area and the ball balloons over the bar.
90+2: Honduras are most probably desperate for the referee to blow his whistle for full-time, they have not offered much going forward and have been outclassed in midfield, not seeing much of the ball and barely having many chances against an impressive France side tonight.
90+3: And there it is! The match comes to an end, and a deserved win for France. 3-0 win, and it could have been more, a good start for Les Blues on Day 4 of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The first match where a goal has been decided by goal-line technology, France go top of their group on goal-difference with Switzerland in second place after their last-gasp winner against Ecuador earlier today.
Subs: Orion, Gago, Biglia, Perez, Higuain, Augusto Fernandez, Demichelis, Palacio, Alvarez, Lavezzi, Basanta and Andujar.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Begovic, Mujdza, Bicakcic, Spahic, Kolasinac, Besic, Hajrovic, Pjanic, Misimovic, Lulic, Dzeko.
Subs: Fejzic, Vrsajevic, Vranjes, Ibisevic, Susic, Sunjic, Ibricic, Medunjanin, Visca, Hadzic, Salihovic and Avdukic.
Referee: Joel Aguilar (from Slovakia)
23:00 - The referee blows his whistle to start the match in Maracana.
2: GOAL! That was a very fast start! Argentina have a free-kick in a dangerous area after a good run by Aguero is stopped unfairly.
The ball is invitingly whipped into the box by captain Lionel Messi, curling towards goal - Poor defending on Bosnia's part, the ball bounces off the ground and hits the legs of full-back Kolasinac at the back post, he cannot react quickly enough to prevent it from bouncing off him and spinning past Begovic to give the South Americans an early lead.
|We'll take it: Argentina celebrate their early opener, as a result of Kolasinac's own goal|
|Kolasinac is helpless to do anything but watch as the ball bounces off him into his own net|
Now Bosnia will have to work hard to get back into the game.
8: Credit goes to Bosnia, they've started the game positively and have not let the early set-back get to them. Pjanic is the creator in the midfield, he'll be instrumental if they are to get back into the match.
10: FACT - Kolasinac's own goal was the fastest ever recorded in World Cup history, of 2 minutes and 8 seconds.
15: Bosnia on the attack! A great chipped through ball is well controlled by Izet Hajrovic inside the box, as he shapes to turn goalkeeper Sergio Romero runs off his line to parry the effort before Argentina clear. Scrappy play after a good Bosnian counter attack.
19: Strong challenge by Kolasinac near the touchline, as the young Schalke full-back slides in on Zabaleta. No foul given, he won the ball and it's out for an Argentinan throw-in.
21: Bosnia have defended well so far this half, despite the own goal early on. Not giving Di Maria or Messi much space, frustrating them on the counter attack.
22: If they want to get back into the game, they need to test Romero and the Argentina defence; which is traditionally the weakest part of the team.
23: Soaking up pressure well are Bosnia, just need to attack.
25: Bosnia free-kick in a dangerous position after a late challenge on Mujdza by defender Marcus Rojo results in the first booking of the match. 30 yards out and Argentina players stand waiting patiently on the edge of the 18-yard box.
26: The free-kick comes of nothing, a shame.
28: The Argentinian supporters are really getting behind their team, 1-0 up but not exactly as comfortable as you would have been led to believe so far.
32: Half-chance for Bosnia, the ball falls to Dzeko just outside the area and he takes the shot first-time. The effort is over the keeper Romero, and over the bar. High and wide, despite the support to his left from Lulic. Unlucky from the Manchester City striker.
33: Current stats show that Argentina are dominating possession as well as the passing stats, but Bosnia have covered more ground as a team so far tonight.
35: Painful aerial challenge between Aguero and Bicakcic, the replays show that both players collided while jumping for the ball.
36: Aguero is receiving treatment from the physio and is walking off the pitch, while Bicakcic is also led off as the new rules state that whenever there is a "clash of heads" during a match, both players must stand on the touchline and await the referee's permission to continue.
37: A fist-bump by Bicakcic to Aguero shows that there are no hard feelings, the referee waves them back onto the pitch and they seem fine to continue.
40: SAVE! A great diving save by Romero after a powerful header from Lulic as a result of a Bosnia corner, ball goes out for another corner as the goalkeeper parries the effort away from him.
43: Coming up to half-time, Argentina have not exactly been at their best tonight. Credit to Bosnia for a dogged performance at the back, they still have a chance to equalise and get a result out of the match.
44: Great run and movement on the ball by Messi, he glides past two defenders and shapes to shoot before passing across the box, ball is cleared away to safety and Bosnia can ease their defenders forward.
45: The fourth official has signalled for just the 1 minute of stoppage time at the end of the first-half.
45+1: HALF-TIME -
Argentina 1 Bosnia 0
A slightly weak first-half in terms of a footballing spectacle, Argentina are only a goal up courtesy of the own goal after 2 minutes.
Based on this performance, they do not look like the kind of team that are poised to win the World Cup anytime soon, but who knows? So far, the match has been dull and looks as though it could go either way, which makes it more interesting.
00:03 - SECOND-HALF:
45: Two substitutions for the side who are leading, as the game gets underway again for the second period -
Maxi Rodriguez OFF
Hugo Campagnaro OFF
Gonzalo Higuain ON
Fernando Gago ON
48: Bosnia have a free-kick in a dangerous position, 25 yards out after a hefty challenge by defender Federico Fernandez results in a warning from the referee.
49: The resulting free-kick is struck well and over the wall by Hajrovic, but it is straight at Romero who smothers the ball and comfortably catches it.
51: Hint of a scrap between Zabaleta and Lulic, with the Manchester City full-back reacting angrily to a late challenge from the Bosnian winger after he had headed the ball to safety. The referee runs to the situation and quickly diffuses it before anything boils over.
|Showdown: Zabaleta and Lulic argue after the former was tackled late by the Bosnian winger|
60: Great run by Messi, skips past two Bosnian defenders with ease before passing the ball across to team-mate Aguero, he shapes to shoot but his effort is low and hard into the path of Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who comfortably holds the ball.
62: Yellow card is given to Bosnian defender Emir Spahic, who slides in late on Aguero and is rightly booked for a nasty-looking challenge. The Manchester City man is in some discomfort as a result of a poor tackle from the Leverkusen sweeper who has left Aguero in a heap on the ground.
63: Messi takes the resulting free-kick, but it flies over the bar and the pressure on the Bosnian goal subsides for now.
64: GOAL!!! Argentina are 2-0 up, and it's a great goal aswell! Everyone was critizing him at half-time, and he has proved why he is the best finisher in world football!
Messi doubles the lead for the Argentinians, with a great finish after dribbling past two defenders with pace before slotting into the net which bounces off the post out of reach for Begovic.
|Top-class finish: Messi celebrates his super strike to double Argentina's lead|
71: Bosnia have to do something, and here it is -
Mensur Mujdza OFF
Izet Hajrovic OFF
Vedad Ibisevic ON
Edin Visca ON
74: Last Bosnian substitution of the match, Misimovic is being replaced by Medunjanin.
75: That goal seems to have lifted the spirits of Messi, and his team-mates around him. Messi's going on the run past his marker with ease, silky dribbling to get past defenders and his team-mates are following suit.
77: Another half-chance goes begging, this time from Argentina. Messi gets on the ball and lifts a chipped effort into the path of the on-side substitute and Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is unable to position himself properly and heads the ball awkwardly over the bar, missing the target completely.
84: GOAL! Bosnia back in with a chance, their first ever goal in a major international tournament. Striker Vedad Ibisevic with the effort, a long through ball falls to him unmarked, he beats the offside trap and slots the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Romero.
|Taking advantage: Ibisevic slots the ball underneath Romero to make it 2-1 and a tense finale.|
|Making history: Ibisevic celebrates his goal - Bosnia's first at a major international tournament|
Sergio Aguero OFF
Lucas Biglia ON
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is being replaced by midfielder Lucas Biglia, and he'll take his time as he walks off the pitch in no hurry. 2-1 still, a few minutes left to play.
90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to play at the end of the match.
90+2: Wasted chance from Bosnia. Probably the last kick of the game.
90+3: And there you go. Argentina win, thanks to a magical moment from Messi - despite a late charge from Bosnia, the South Americans win their first game of the tournament. Much better in the second-half, I might add.
I will be back with more World Cup coverage and action tomorrow, where Germany play against Portugal in the highlight of the upcoming fixtures on Day 5.