News / Americas

    Nigeria, Switzerland, France Advance to World Cup's 2nd Round

    Nigeria's Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Argentina during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre June 25, 2014.
    Nigeria's Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Argentina during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre June 25, 2014.
    Mike Richman

    Switzerland, France and Nigeria secured spots in the coveted round of 16 in World Cup action Wednesday in Brazil.

     

    France played Ecuador to a scoreless draw in Rio de Janeiro to finish first in Group E with seven points. 

     

    Afterward, Ecuador's coach Reinaldo Rueda complained about a referee's decision to dismiss Ecuadorian team captain and midfielder Antonio Valencia on a questionable red card. The red card for Valencia's challenge to France's Lucas Digne caused Ecuador to play most of the second half with 10 men.

     

    With the loss, Ecuador became the only South American team not to advance beyond the group stage to the round of 16, also known as the knockout round.

     

    "We lost a very important man for our structure," Rueda said. "It was difficult against France with all the virtues and abilities that team has."

     

    Swiss Player Scores Three

     

    In Manaus, Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri provided all of the scoring in a 3-0 win over Honduras that lifted the Swiss into the second round. The Swiss finished behind France with six points.    

     

    Despite losing to Argentina in Group F play, Nigeria advanced to the knockout round after Iran fell to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Salvador, 3-1.

     

    Wednesday's Argentina-Nigeria match in Porto Alegre was action packed from the start, with Argentine captain Lionel Messi and Nigeria's Ahmed Musa scoring in the first five minutes of play. The two scored again before a goal off Argentina's Marcos Rojo's knee remained unanswered for a 3-2 finish.

     

    Argentina, which qualified for the knockout round last week, finished first in Group F with nine points, followed by Nigeria with four, Bosnia with three and Iran with one. 

     

    Competition Wednesday was overshadowed by a controversy that surfaced the day before involving Uruguay's star striker, Luis Suarez.

     

    On Tuesday, Suarez appeared to bite Italy's Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder during Uruguay's 1-0 win in a Group D match that sent the Uruguayans to the knockout round.

     

    The governing body of international football, FIFA, said Wednesday it is investigating the incident, which has since been the talk of the football world.

     

    Urgent Matter for FIFA 

     

    "I think the disciplinary committee understands the urgency of the matter," said Delia Fischer, FIFA's head of media. "It is working to get all and assess all elements in order to make a decision as early as possible, particularly given the fact that Uruguay is still in the tournament."

     

    Suarez's teammates played down the incident.

     

    "We're good, we're calm, we don't want to dramatize anything," Uruguay's Gaston Ramirez said. "They made too much out of it. There have been other situations that have happened during the World Cup, and I don't know why we should focus on this one.  They had their backs turned, so we didn't see anything, and for us it looks like they want to exaggerate something that happened on the pitch and ended there, that's it."

     

    Suarez has had several bouts with controversy. In club play, he has been suspended twice for biting opposing players, and once for spewing racially abusive language at an opponent. He is likely to be suspended again if Tuesday's biting incident is confirmed.

     

    Uruguay's next match is on Saturday against Colombia in the round of 16.  A decision by FIFA is expected before then.

     

    On Thursday, group play closes with pivotal matches in Group G and Group H.

     

    All four Group G teams are still bidding for spots in the knockout round.  Germany and the United States., tied for first with four points, clash in Recife.  Portugal and Ghana, with one point each, meet in Brasilia.

     

    With victories in its first two games, Belgium is the only Group H team that has qualified for the round of 16.  The Belgians play South Korea in Sau Paulo, and Algeria and Russia face off in Curitiba.  Algeria is second to Belgium with three points, while South Korea and Russia have one point each.

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