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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

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World Cup Diary

England's fate sealed, while France hit five.

World Cup Diary

What happened last night?

In short, England's World Cup exit was confirmed.

After losing their first two games to Italy and Uruguay, Roy Hodgson's side were relying on the Azzurri defeating Costa Rica to maintain their faint hopes on Thursday.

But by 7pm, their early flight home was booked, meaning Everton trio Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Ross Barkley will be back on home soil much earlier than anticipated.

Costa Rica continued to be one of the surprise packages in Brazil - and Bryan Oviedo will have enjoyed watching their 1-0 win thanks to a header from Fulham's Bryan Ruiz.

That result puts the Ticos through to the knockout stages, with Italy and Uruguay facing off to claim the other place from Group D on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, France continued their own fine start with a commanding 5-2 win over Switzerland in Group E.

Les Bleus all but sealed their place in the Round of 16 thanks to a spirited performance and some scintillating goals.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud opened the scoring with a deflected header on 16 minutes and Blasie Matuidi of Paris Saint Germain made it 2-0 just 66 seconds later.

Karim Benzema won a penalty, only to see it saved and former Newcastle man Yohan Cabaye slam the rebound against the bar.

Further goals did come, however, courtesy of Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema and Moussa Sissoko. Blerim Dzemaili's stunning free-kick and Granit Xhaka's volley were mere consolation for the Swiss.

And in the late game, Ecuador went second on goal difference in Group E with a 2-1 victory over Honduras.

Carlo Costly had put the Central Americans ahead on 31 minutes, but Enner Valencia levelled from close-range minutes later.

The Pachuca forward notched his third of the tournament by heading down and beyond Noel Valladares midway through the second half.

Who caught the eye?

Valencia's brace certainly earned the plaudits in the early hours. His predatory prowess is something opponents will need to deal with if the Ecuadorians do reach the next stage.

Benzema's pace was perhaps the main cause of Switzerland's downfall. The Real Madrid forward deserved to make amends following his penalty miss and the French are on fire despite the absence of Franck Ribery.

And Costa Rica captain Ruiz looked rejuvenated in his side's system. The attacking midfielder spent part of last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven after appearing to be an unaffordable luxury in Fulham's relegation fight, but the Cottagers might now regret not deploying the 28-year-old more after failing to beat the drop.

What’s happening today?


Another day means three more games to enjoy.

We start with Argentina against Iran - a game Lionel Messi is surely targeting for goals. Kicking off with a 2-1 win over Greece, the South Americans will be keen to show why they were hotly-tipped to go far this year.

Germany face Ghana in Group G and the Africans will want to put up more of a fight than 10-man Portugal did in their opening game.

And in the late game, we return to Group F for Nigeria against Bosnia and Herzegovina as both sides look to make up ground on Argentina.

Who should I be looking out for today?

Messi. He's already netted against the Greeks, but can he truly shine at a World Cup and emulate Diego Maradona? Time to find out.

The Germans are flying and all eyes will be on them as they seek to take control of the group. After finishing third in South Africa four years ago, can the country's 'golden generation' go all the way in Brazil?

Edin Dzeko is Bosnia-Herzegovina's talisman and was prolific in the qualifying process. The Manchester City man will be looking to fire past a Nigeria side who were largely unimpressive against Iran last week.

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