World Cup Round-Up: Final Group Stage Matches
Here’s all the results from the World Cup group stage final fixtures in Russia, including all the last 16 fixtures coming your way.
Uruguay battled it out with Russia for top spot in Group A, the South Americans coming away victorious with a 3-0 win, courtesy of goals from Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and an own goal from Russia’s star of the tournament to that point, Denis Cherysev. Russian right-back Igor Smolnikov was shown his marching orders after receiving two yellow cards in the first half, but the hosts still qualify as group runners-up.
Saudi Arabia shocked Egypt 2-1 in the dead-rubber of the group, with stoppage-time goals in each half from Salman Al Faraj (a second penalty attempt in five minutes against a 45-year old Egyptian goalkeeper), and Salem Al-Dawsari after a Mohamed Salah opener.
Iran managed a late point from yet another VAR penalty, this one for a contentious Cedric Soares handball in the 93rd minute against Portugal. Karim Ansarifard converted for the Iranians but Portugal still qualified ahead of them, after a stunning goal from Ricardo Quaresma on the stroke of half time. Cristiano Ronaldo avoided a red card after a VAR review for a nasty swipe, after missing a second-half penalty. William Carvalho had a solid 90 minutes again for the Portuguese and has now been linked with Manchester United and Inter, but good old Manny Fernandes didn’t make it off the bench again.
Spain topped Group B ahead of Portugal after just about managing a point against Morocco, substitute Iago Aspas (no matter what he does in Spain, we’ll never forget his wonderfully comical corner for Liverpool in a very dramatic match against Chelsea) scoring in stoppage time after first-half goals from Khalid Boutaib and Isco, and an 81st minute header from Moroccan substitute Youssef En-Nesyri. Hakim Ziyech played well again in attacking midfield but is still unable to find the net. Spain will now play Russia in the last 16 on Sunday, and Portugal face Uruguay on Saturday.
A 0-0 draw was enough to see both Denmark and France through to the last 16 from Group C, with the latter topping the group. The result was the first goalless game of the fixture in 37 matches, and Steven N’Zonzi started in place of Paul Pogba in a much-changed French side.
Peru beat Australia 2-0 to ensure the Socceroos didn’t progress after goals from potential target Andre Carillo and Paolo Guerrero. Legend Tim Cahill finally came on as a substitute for just over half an hour to make his first and only tournament appearance, and despite a few chances, couldn’t find the net this time round. It will most probably be the last time he runs out in a World Cup after four world tournaments since 2006, marking the end of an era for one of Australia’s and Everton’s greats. France play Argentina in the next round on Saturday, while Croatia face Denmark the following day.
The Croats knocked Gylfi Sigurdsson and Iceland out of the World Cup in Group D with a 2-1 win, goals coming from Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic either side of a Gylfi penalty. Croatia have looked very strong in the group stages, topping the group with maximum points, and they will be confident of overcoming Denmark on Sunday.
Argentina sneaked through as well with a late goal from Marcos Rojo securing a 2-1 victory over Nigeria, after an early goal from Lionel Messi (finally) and a Victor Moses penalty.
Brazil won Group E with a 2-0 victory over Serbia, Paulinho and Thiago Silva netting either side of half time, which means they now face Mexico on Monday with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.
Switzerland qualified as runners-up after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, goals coming from Blerim Dzemaili and Josip Drmic for the Swiss, and Kendall Watson and an own goal from Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer in favour of the Costa Ricans after a Bryan Ruiz effort struck his back in a manic conclusion to the game. Switzerland will now face Sweden in the last 16 on Tuesday.
Sweden surprisingly overcame Mexico 3-0 even though both sides progressed to the next round in Group F, with goals from Ludwig Augustinsson and Andreas Granqvist, before an embarrassing own goal from Mexican right-back Edson Alvarez. Hirving Lozano played 90 minutes this time, but could not prevent a heavy defeat.
Korea Republic sent Germany packing with two stoppage time goals from Young-Gwon Kim and Heung-min Son after the former’s effort was ruled out for offside but then awarded by VAR due to a Toni Kroos intervention. The reigning Champions will now leave the group stages for the first time since 1938.
England were beaten 1-0 by Belgium in a game where both sides fielded alternative starting elevens having already qualified, and a second-half strike from Adnan Januzaj proved the difference. Jordan Pickford retained his place in the team and made a couple of good saves despite being unable to keep out the goal. Rumoured loan target Ruben Loftus-Cheek put in a man of the match performance in midfield, while ex-Evertonian Marouane Fellaini played a part in a more advanced role for the Belgians. England now face a tough tie against Colombia on Tuesday, after Belgium face Japan the day before.
Tunisia claimed their first World Cup win in 40 years, with goals from Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Wahbi Khazri after a deflected own goal by Yassine Meriah. Both teams returned home after the game, with Panama pointless in the group.
Japan squeezed through on the ‘fair play’ rule of bookings over Idrissa Gueye’s Senegal even though the Japanese lost out 1-0 to Poland, who are out of the competition. Jan Bednarek scored the only goal of the game.
Colombia progressed as Group H winners in a 1-0 victory over Senegal, who unfortunately crash out on the yellow cards rule for the first time in World Cup history after the new rule was introduced. Both teams were set to progress until Barcelona centre-back Yerry Mina’s 74th-minute header secured their fate. Idrissa Gueye and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s early exits mean that Jordan Pickford is the only Everton player to make the knockout stages. James Rodriguez was substituted off due to injury after half an hour in Colombia’s win, and is now unlikely to face England on Tuesday. Could football really be coming home?