Five La Liga players represented their countries on day three of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
A further eight players who used to ply their trade in Spain’s top division were also in action over Saturday’s four matches.
Former Villarreal defender Cristian Zapata kept a clean sheet for Colombia in their 3-0 opening win over Greece. Goals from Pablo Armero, Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez ensured the perfect start for Jose Pekermen’s men, and put them top of Group D.
Elche midfielder Carlos Sanchez picked up a booking as he played the full 90 minutes, while Granada loanee Orestis Karnezis was the unfortunate man between the Greek posts as he also featured throughout.
Ex-Levante striker Theofanis Gekas lasted for 64 minutes at Belo Horizonte’s Estadio Mineirao, and wasted a guilt-edge opportunity at 2-0 to get his side back in the game – heading against the bar from just four yards out.
La Liga featured prominently in the opening match of Group D – a total of six players with one connection or another played in Uruguay’s surprise 3-1 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica.
Former Malaga loanee Diego Lugano captained the side in Fortaleza’s Estadio Castelao, and was brought down for the penalty which was converted by Edinson Cavani. The defender also picked up a yellow card as goals from Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena completed a marvellous turnaround and sealed an incredible victory for the Costa Ricans.
Atletico Madrid skipper Diego Godin also played the full 90 in defence, along with former Villarreal, Barcelona and Sevilla man Martin Caceres who also went into the referee’s notebook.
Espanyol right winger Christian Stuani played the whole game and Atletico’s Cristian Rodriguez featured for 76 minutes on the other side, while former Rojiblanco Diego Forlan lasted for 60 minutes in place of the injured Luis Suarez.
The other game in Group D saw former Barca and Atletico midfielder Thiago Motta come off the bench after 57 minutes in Italy’s 2-1 win over England at Arena da Amazonia in Manaus.
Daniel Sturridge scored England’s equaliser just two minutes after Claudio Marchisio put Cesare Prandelli’s Italian side in front with a beautiful strike from long range. Mario Balotelli headed home Antonio Candreva’s 50th-minute cross with what proved to be the winner for the Azzurri.
Former Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure captained Ivory Coast in the final match of the day, as they came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in Recife’s Arena Pernambuco.
Keisuke Honda put the Japanese in front on 16 minutes, ex-Sevilla man Didier Zokora was booked for the Africans on 58 shortly before quick fire goals from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho completed their second-half turnaround.
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