FORTALEZA, Brazil — Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time goal to send Greece into the second round of the World Cup for the first time with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday, eliminating the Africans in the process.
Samaras was ruled to have been tripped in the area by substitute Giovanni Sio, and he calmly slotted in the spot kick for a win that put Greece through to the knockout stage. Ivory Coast would have advanced with a tie.
“This means so much to me, to us ... Tonight we had energy,” Samaras said, dedicating the win to Greeks suffering through financial crisis. “We really hope we can make the people happy back home. We are a team. A team — that’s it.”
The Greeks had taken the lead just before halftime on a goal by substitute Andreas Samaris, who punished Ivorian Ismael Tiote for a careless pass backward.
Substitute Wilfried Bony equalized for Ivory Coast in the 74th, beating keeper Pangiotis Glykos from close range after being set up by Gervinho.
COLOMBIA 4, JAPAN 1: In Cuiaba, Brazil, James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez as Colombia routed Japan to claim the top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions.
Already assured of advancing, Colombia guaranteed first place with its third straight win, setting up a second-round match against Uruguay. Japan finished with a draw and two losses.
The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but still went in front when Juan Cuadrado — one of the few regular starters — drilled in a 17th-minute penalty.
Japan tied it with the last touch of the first half through Shinji Okazaki’s header, but Martinez scored in the 55th and 82nd minutes — both from superb passes from substitute Rodriguez — to put the result beyond doubt.
Rodriguez capped it off with a stunning solo goal in the 89th, turning his defender inside out before beating the advancing keeper with a deft finish that bore all the hallmarks of the great Lionel Messi.
COSTA RICA 0, ENGLAND 0: In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Costa Rica finished first in what many considered the World Cup’s toughest group after a scoreless draw against England.
Costa Rica only needed a draw to top Group D and played that way, setting up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation.
England lost its first two matches to Italy and Uruguay, while Costa Rica surprisingly won its first two.
England had already been eliminated and will go home without a win after striker Daniel Sturridge missed a number of chances.