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As Argentina, Switzerland and France got their campaigns off to a winning start, Goal takes a look at Man City strikers, a Stoke player losing his cool and a host of Gallic stars

The excitement and controversy of the World Cup continued in earnest on day four as Switzerland snatched a last-gasp victory over Ecuador, France beat Honduras with a helping hand from goal-line technology and Messi & Co. finally entered the fray on the biggest stage.

As Goal continues to run the rule on those players representing the Premier League outside of the Three Lions, we see Manchester City strikers going head to head, a Stoke City player given his marching orders as well as a whole host of Gallic stars based in England.

PABLO ZABALETA

With a Premier League winners medal already secured this season, the Manchester City full-back started Argentina's quest for World Cup glory against Bosnia.

Arguably one of the best right-backs on the planet, the defender was as assured as ever against a physical side and was never deterred by the aggressive nature of their European opponents.

While his team took time to grow into the match, Zabaleta made his intentions clear from the start, bombing on down the right flank and he is sure to be one of the South Americans' star performers if they are to go the distance in this tournament.

EDIN DZEKO

On a big night for his country, the Manchester City forward was part of side that gave the much fancied South Americans an almighty scare.

One of three players on the pitch with a Premier league winners medal in their cabinet after this season, Dzeko led the line for Bosnia but struggled to get on the end of any real chances himself.

The forward is the only member of his squad who actually grew up in Bosnia, after his family didn't flee the region after the outbreak of civil war in the early 1990s, and he'll be hoping for plenty more chances to do his home nation proud against Nigeria and Iran.

SERGIO AGUERO

After a season plagued by injury it was perhaps no real surprise that the Manchester City striker didn't look as if he was firing on all cylinders.

His partnership with Messi could, on paper, be one of the highlights of this already pulsating tournament but the duo ultimately failed to light up the Maracana in their Group F opener, with Messi's one moment of magic all the pair had to show between them.

Alejandro Sabella will be hoping for a lot more from the forward in their upcoming matches, with an improvement desperately needed after a performance littered with miscued efforts and wayward passes.

ASMIR BEGOVIC

A memorable occasion for any player, Asmir Begovic's first game at a World Cup finals will be one he can remeber fondly despite suffering defeat.

Bosnia fell just short of matching tournament favourites Argentina but the Stoke City keeper was on hand to keep the Albiceleste out on many occasions as his side recovered from the worst possible start.

The shot-stopper was beaten by his own man barely three minutes into the match but there was little he could do about that, or Lionel Messi's magnificent finish in the second half as the World Cup new-boys lost out 2-1.

ANTONIO VALENCIA

The winger may not be one of the standout players at Manchester United, but he is Ecuador's talisman and he justified that role with an impressive first-half display against Switzerland in Brasilia.

The winger was afforded a lot of space on the right flank and was often seen bursting down the wing and delivering dangerous balls into the Europeans' penalty area. The former Wigan man must have thought he had set up the winner in stoppage time when he picked out a team-mate unmarked in the area and will have been devastated to watch on as the chance turned into a Swiss goal after an incisive last-minute breakaway.

PATRICE EVRA


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Four years ago the Manchester United full-back was captaining his country in South Africa and leading a revolt against Raymond Domenech after Nicolas Anelka was sent home from the camp.

All that led to a woeful World Cup experience for the French but things got off to a much better start this time around as they eased past a potentially tricky tie against Honduras.

Evra was involved from the off, picking up an early booking in the first half but he worked hard down the left when confronted with the pace of the Honduran attack.

Things didn't look too great for the full-back however as he received treatment in the area after France took a 3-0 lead courtesy of Karim Benzema's second goal, with replays showing what looked to be a nasty ankle injury.

The problem was soon shaken off, despite the sight of the former captain on a stretcher, and he saw out the remainder of what was comfortable French victory.

WILSON PALACIOS


The Stoke City midfielder had an opening match to forget as he gave away a penalty and was sent off in his side's 3-0 defeat at the hands of France.

Sitting in central midfield, the former Tottenham man was booked for challenge on Paul Pogba and, although the Juventus man was lucky to escape a red card for his reaction, Palacios was not as lucky moments later when he brought down the same player in the area, giving Karim Benzema a chance from the spot while also picking up his second booking.

MATHIEU DEBUCHY

The Newcastle United full-back was one of France's standout performers as they got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start.

The defender looks set to leave St James' Park this summer and it wasn't hard to see why so many European clubs are interested in his services after a relentless display down the flank.

Debuchy caused problems for Honduras with his crossing all evening and had a hand in the third goal when his wicked shot deflected into the path of Benzema.

HUGO LLORIS

The French shot-stopper has had a difficult season in goal for Tottenham, finding himself on the wrong end of big scorelines more often than he would care to remember.

It must have been a novel feeling for the goalkeeper, then, as he was barely given a job to do in France's opener as their opponents were restricted to only a handful of wayward shots from long range.

Lloris is unlikely to have it all his own way though in the coming matches as Didier Deschamps' men prepare for the much more robust challenges of Ecuador and Switzerland.

MAMADOU SAKHO

The Liverpool defender didn't settle into Premier League life all that quickly last season, finding himself in and out of Brendan Rodgers' starting XI.

He didn't have too much to do on his first appearance in a World Cup finals though, with France having the majority of possession and their opponents implementing damage limitation after going down to 10 men.

Sakho still managed to get himself involved, though, making sure he was part of the celebrations as Benzema put the Americas outfit to the sword.

MOUSSA SISSOKO

The Newcastle United winger has shown in the Premier League this season that he has pace to burn and it looks as though Didier Deschamps will look to utilise this from the bench in this tournament.

The midfielder came on for the tempramental Paul Pogba at the beginning of the second half and was given a couple of opportunities to show his searing pace.

OLIVIER GIROUD

It was thought that the Arsenal forward may have forced his way into the starting XI after his performance in France's 8-0 drubbing of Jamaica in their final warm-up match.

However he started on the bench, a decision truly vindicated by the performance of Karim Benzema, who struck France to victory against Honduras.

The Emirates man will be hoping for a bit more than a cameo role though as the tournament progresses.

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