Day 4 of the 2018 World Cup is in the books and it was yet another memorable day filled with great action, great goals, and plenty of surprises ... and we haven’t even had Belgium or England play (they both will do so today, Monday).
In the early game, Serbia earned their second win as an independent nation on the world’s greatest stage, and first since 2010, by beating 2014 quarterfinalists Costa Rica, 0-1 at the distinctive Cosmos Arena in Samara (nee Kuybyshev for those of us of a certain age). Many expected a dour, defensive match and that’s basically what we got. Aleksandr Kolarov scored a tremendous free kick (the third goal at the World Cup from a direct free kick already) while Costa Rica failed to take advantage a couple first-half chances and Serbia did the same in the second-half.
Both of the ex-Chelsea stars for Serbia started, as one would expect, which meant that the legendary Branislav Ivanovic became his country’s all-time leader in international caps with 104. Congrats to Bane, who’s 15th on the all-time appearance list for Chelsea with 377.
With the win, Ivanovic and Matic are off to a fantastic start, especially as the two strongest teams in the group battled to a 1-1 draw in the day’s late match. Brazil took the lead on a Philippe Coutinho long-range special, but could not add to it before a second-half equalizer from Steven Zuber on a corner ensured a share of the spoils for the Swiss. Willian, as usual, started and played the full 90, but Brazil looked well below their pre-tournament and qualification campaign form.
With the draw, Brazil join a Rudiger-less Germany (lost 1-0 to an impressive Mexico), Argentina (held 1-1 by Iceland) and Spain (supremely entertaining in 3-3 draw with Portugal) among trophy favorites to drop points in their first group games. Even France barely managed a win over Australia.
How does that bode for Belgium and England on Monday? We shall find out shortly...