By RAF CASERT
2014-06-16 06:42 AM
One last-gasp winner and another goal decided by goal-line technology were the highlights of the first two games on day four of the World Cup as the high-scoring fun continues to overshadow fears of violence and social unrest in Brazil.
The Swiss turned their match into a real thriller, capping yet another come-from behind win with a breathtaking final minute goal to beat Ecuador 2-1.
And France got over the shock of not hearing La Marseillaise played before the game to dominate Honduras 3-0. The Central Americans appeared more set on kicking Frenchmen rather than scoring goals and had Wilson Palacios sent off.
Europe may have dominated Latin America 2-0 in the early Group E games, but Lionel Messi and Argentina were a heavy favorite against World Cup rookie Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Maracana stadium in Rio late Sunday.
France was already leading 1-0 when Karim Benzema's shot hit the inside of the post. The ball bounced back along the line, stunned goalkeeper Noel Valladares flailed at the ball and briefly fumbled it over his own line before slapping it out.
It could have been controversy, but technology made it crystal clear, with seven video cameras proving the ball had crossed the line and alerting the referee through his watch.
The technology has been introduced following some disastrous errors in previous tournaments.
Benzema would have preferred scoring it directly since it would have given him the first hat trick of the World Cup after he scored the opening penalty and added a second in the 72nd minute.
After four days, goals continue to pour in at a rate of three a game. Outside the stadiums too, there were more happy cheers than angry protests, belying early worries that demonstrations would turn the tournament into violent chaos.
Around 200 protesters marched on the Maracana stadium but were largely outnumbered by security. At last year's Confederations Cup, more than 1 million Brazilians took to the streets in protest in a single day.
Perhaps the angriest World Cup crowd Sunday was in Brasilia, where thousands of fans missed the first part of Switzerland-Ecuador because of long lines to pass through security. FIFA said there had been some "challenges" with the gates allowing fans in, but also blamed Brazilians' habit of turning up for events at the last moment.
Stoppage time at the end of the match was what really mattered.
With the three minutes of injury time nearly up and Ecuador and Switzerland tied at 1-1, the South Americans broke through with a great chance. Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami however, put in a lunging block in the penalty box on Michael Arroyo.
Then, Behrami sped off, riding a rough tackle, rolling over and recovering the ball to set up the winning move that was finished off by Haris Seferovic.
"How many times are you going to see a chance in one box ending up as a goal in the other," asked Switzerland defender Johan Djourou. "The effort produced by this team was incredible."
"Never give up" is quickly turning into the motto of the tournament since 5 of 9 games so far have been come-from-behind victories.
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