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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Don Cuddy: Mexico is en fuego at World Cup

  • The Mexicans are living the dream in Brazil. “Cielito Lindo” rang out proudly around the Sao Paulo arena Monday from tens of thousands of joyous travelling fans celebrating the football fiesta they had just witnessed.
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  • Mexico 3, Croatia 1   The Mexicans are living the dream in Brazil. “Cielito Lindo” rang out proudly around the Sao Paulo arena Monday from tens of thousands of joyous traveling fans celebrating the football fiesta they had just witnessed.   Mexico only needed a tie to advance, but a late surge produced three goals and an emphatic 3-0 win for El Tri over a disappointing Croatian team.   Not even the most optimistic Mexican could have predicted this outcome. All the goals came in the final 15 minutes against opponents who were clearly tiring in the heat.   Croatia grabbed a last gasp consolation goal with a slick move that showed what they were capable of on a better day. But they are going home now, while Mexico have a date with the Netherlands this Sunday in Fortaleza. It’s a fairy tale that might just endure beyond that game.   Is this really the Mexico that was a train wreck in the qualifying rounds? A team that needed the United States to beat Panama just to allow them the opportunity to face New Zealand in a playoff and sneak into the tournament by the back door? Un milagro! They must feel that destiny is on their side.   Netherlands 2, Chile 0   Apart from two well-taken late goals, there was little excitement in this one. The Dutch, needing only a tie, did what they had to do, in that professional manner of theirs. Under Louis van Gaal, a strict disciplinarian, all must obey or face his wrath. Hence they shut up shop early, thwarted the Chilean offence and clinched Group B without much fuss. With the win they avoid meeting Brazil in the next round. Chile worked hard but could not find a way past an organized Dutch rearguard. The Chileans lacked a cutting edge upfront and were exposed at the back by two raids from the Oranje. Both teams advance however. Chile face the toughest test in the Round of 16 with Brazil awaiting them.   Brazil 4, Cameroon 1   It was party time all over Brazil last night. Neymar, the team’s golden boy, helped himself to two goals as the hosts brushed aside the luckless Africans. There was a solitary unscripted moment when Cameroon managed to cancel out Neymar’s opener with a goal of their own. It turned out to be the only time they managed to score during their three-game South American sojourn. Brazil added three more goals without reply and cruise into the next round, while the not so Indomitable Lions of 2014 head due east for a rethink. They will see some familiar faces in the departure lounge as the chips begin to fall in Brazil.   Spain 3, Australia 0   It came too late. The Spanish players finally showed their quality in a game with nothing but pride at stake for both teams. David Villa’s classy finish from a back heel was a highlight and a fitting close to his international career. The win at least allowed Spain to avoid the ignominy of finishing last in their group. But this World Cup is one that Spain will be relieved to put behind them. Australia leave with their heads held high. Despite losing all three of their games, this team played bravely, exceeded expectations and gave it a real go. It’s “G’day mate” for the Socceroos, but some of their players will probably be getting contract offers after the way they performed on the big stage.   Today’s action   Italy and Uruguay meet today in Group D, and it is win or go home for both. After a fine victory over England in the opener, the Azzurri were shocked by Costa Rica and need a big performance here. Uruguay fared no better, also losing to the Costa Ricans but rallying to beat England with two opportunist goals from Luis Suarez, their brilliant but erratic frontman. This threatens to be a tight game so let’s hope for an early goal to open it up. With Suarez on the field anything could happen. England and Costa Rica play the other Group D game, a lame duck affair. For the English, the war is over. Costa Rica, having already won the group, will give some of their second choice guys a little playing time.   In Group C, Colombia has already secured qualification and play Japan who must win. Ivory Coast are favored to join Colombia in the next round and only need a draw against a poor Greek side to advance.   Most interesting man   The man in the stand gets the nod today. As anyone who witnessed the Chile-Netherlands game can attest, the stadium was a sea of red-shirted Chilean fans who came to Brazil in huge numbers to get behind their team. Midway through the playing of their national anthem, the music stopped and the Chileans fans sang the remainder a capella. It was a spine-tingling display of pride and national unity.   Want to talk World Cup with Don? Contact him at 13cilleanna@gmail.com  
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