World Cup 2018 Review: Week 2

It’s been a busy week in football. Let’s take a look at how things stand in this World Cup 2018 Review – week 2.

Monday 18th June

Match 1 – 13.00: Sweden v South Korea

The beginning of the match between South Korea and Sweden was pretty uneventful, with no side showing much or giving much away. However, it was Sweden that had the main chance to open up the scoring when Marcus Berg nearly scored in the 21st minute. However Jo managed to block the shot from just outside the box with his knee.

The winning goal came in the second half when Andreas Granqvist scored a penalty in the 65th minute – another awarded after a VAR referral. Initially the referee didn’t award a penalty after Kim Min-Woo’s tackle, but after a review, the decision to award a penalty was made. This saw Granqvist put the ball into the bottom right corner with the goalie totally wrong sided. Sweden were one up.

South Korea didn’t really get much into the game after that and never really had any serious chances of equalising until the 92nd minute, when Hwang Hee-Chan headed for goal, but went wide. This was a stilted game, with 38 fouls and it never really took flight. However, it was enough to see Sweden off to a winning start.

Result: 1 – 0 to Sweden

Match 2 – 16.00: Belgium v Panama

The game started off with Belgium clearly dominating the play, although being unable to capitalise on this in the first half. Belgium’s first attempt came just seven minutes into the game when Yannick Ferreira Carrasco hammered a shot straight into the waiting arms of the goalie, Penedo.

The Panama captain, Roman Torres, who got Panama into the tournament almost made a huge mistake and nearly conceded a goal not long after, when he attempted to pass back to his goalkeeper but Hazard got there first. Fortunately, Hazard only managed to hit the side netting. The first half finished 0-0… just about.

One Sided Game

The goals never came in until the second half. Belgium snatched the lead in the 47th minute with a sweet goal from Mertens. Panama almost drew one back in the 55th minute, but the shot was saved  by Courtois.

The next goal doubled Belgium’s lead as Lukaku scored a powerful header in the 67th minute and just six minutes later, the deal was sealed when Lukaku slotted the third goal into the net.

Result: 3 – 0 to Belgium

Match 3 – 19.00: England v Tunisia

This game was all about Harry Kane and wrestling. England weren’t waiting long for their first goal against Tunisia, as they scored in the 11th minute from a blinding set piece. The England team were moving and passing beautifully – looking impressive to say the least. However, after this there were wasted opportunities aplenty as they failed to finish time and again… which looked like it could be the undoing of the England squad.

It got worse for the England squad when a stupid error by Kyle Walker led to a questionable penalty in the 33rd minute, which saw Sassi convert it and take the team back on level pegging. Ironic really as Tunisia hadn’t been able to get near the England goal.

Missing VAR

Despite England pressing forward in the second half, it seemed doomed to be a lacklustre draw – the play seemed to lack the pace and power of the first half. However, after several corners where the Tunisian players literally wrestled the English to the ground, the winner was scored in the 91st minute when a corner from Ashley Young was headed toward the goal face by Stones. The goalie managed to get it away, but straight at the feet of Kane who placed it beautifully in the net. England was up again in the dying minutes. There could be several claims for penalties; however, it didn’t matter in the end as England had managed to get those 3 points.

Result: 2 – 1 to England

Tuesday 19th June

Match 1 – 13.00: Colombia v Japan

Everyone expected this to be a Colombia win, but we were to see yet another surprise result as Japan got the victory.

The game got off to a terrible start for the Colombians as Sanchez was shown the fastest red card in World Cup history. Sanchez blocked Shinji Kagawa’s shot with his arm just 2 minutes and 56 seconds into the game. This saw him being sent off and conceding a penalty. In just under three minutes they were one goal down and one man down.

Ten Men Fighting

Despite having just ten men, Colombia managed to compete well, and even managed to put away a leveller with a free kick just six minutes before half time. Colombia’s hopes were revived that they might yet get something out of the game.

In the second half, Colombia brought out the big guns – the World Cup 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, but because of a niggling calf injury, he never saw much of the ball. It was in the 73rd minute that the outcome was decided, when Yuya Osako headed home a second for Japan that Colombia just couldn’t find the answer to. Japan’s hopes of qualification have risen immensely – as Colombia’s have dropped.

Result: 2 – 1 to Japan

Match 2 – 16.00: Poland v Senegal

This was always going to be a tough one for Poland. Not a bad team, but against a very strong and enthusiastic Senegalese opposition. Senegal was the underdogs, as they hadn’t won a World Cup match since their shock victory over France back in 2002. They didn’t let that dampen their fervour, however.

The Poles looked pretty strong at the outset and commanded the ball a lot. The Senegalese were more than a match though and the Senegalese always looked ready to break down the wings. However, a very unlucky own goal by Thiago Cionek in the 37th minute saw Poland go one goal behind. They had a few chances afterwards, but nothing really happened in the rest of the first half.

The poles came out sparky at the beginning of the second half and looked ready to take control of the game. Lewandowski  almost managed to get a goal in the 52nd minute, but N’Diaye just managed to parry it away.

Stupid Mistakes

Unfortunately the final nail in the coffin for Poland came in the 60th minute when Krychowiak made a shocking mistake. The midfielder hoofed the ball back to Szczesny but it was intercepted by Niang who simply tapped it into the net.

The polish team still pushed forward and almost hot the mark in the 70th minute, but to no avail. However, it was in the 86th minute that they finally managed to get one back as Krychowiak powered home a header from Grosicki’s free kick. However, it was not enough as Senegal managed to hold on to the lead and take the points.

Result: 2 – 1 to Senegal

Match 3 – 19.00: Russia v Egypt

Round 2 of the matches started with Russia take on Egypt – looking for a repeat of their first impressive display.

This game saw Egypt on the ropes, so they brought out their secret (or not so secret)weapon – Mo Salah. However, he was not able to save his team from defeat against the Russians.

The game started off okay for Egypt, and they managed to hold off the hosts for the first half, going into the locker room at 0 – 0. However, the damage took place in the second half, where Russia rained blows on Egypt. The floodgates opened  when Fathy scored an own goal. This clearly threw Egypt and the Russians took advantage with Cheryshev and Dzyuba scoring another twin in the space of three minutes.

Egypt went from being level to 3 nil down in minutes. They kept on playing though, and in the 73rd minute Salah was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty. He managed to covert this to a goal, but it was merely a consolation goal as Egypt seemed to be not only out of the match, but out of the tournament with their second loss on the bounce.

Result: 3 – 1 to Russia

Wednesday 20th June

Match 1 – 13.00: Portugal v Morocco

After a hard fought draw with Spain, Portugal were looking for an easier time with Morocco as a win was needed to get them above Iran, sitting top of the table. They found an answer within four minutes of the starter whistle.

Ronaldo, fresh from his Spain hat-trick came out all guns a blazin’ and in the fourth minute managed to swerve his marker and head in a goal from a corner. Morocco were now on the back-foot and already reeling from an undeserved loss against Iran… of whom they were arguably the better team. Morocco pushed hard and at many times was outplaying Portugal and keeping Ronaldo in check.

Morocco argues for two penalties, which they were never awarded, but also they had plenty of chances in open play which they simply couldn’t capitalise on. Portugal may have been not as strong, but once again the team relied on the strength and skill of Ronaldo to keep them in it.

Despite many attempts to claw a goal back, none were finalised and Morocco saw the end of their tournament. Whilst not only did Ronaldo secure Portugal’s place in the top 16, but he also became the leading European international goal-scorer of all time.

Result: 1 – 0 to Portugal

Match 2 – 16.00: Uruguay v Saudi Arabia

Suarez received a bit of a mauling after his first lacklustre performance – so he needed to perform better this time. Well, he did – and managed to secure Uruguay’s place in the final 16 with a fine goal against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, in all fairness, played much better than in the opening match against the hosts. However, it was a shoddy mistake from the replacement goalie, Mohammed Al Owais, that handed victory to the South American squad.

Uruguay Domination

In the 23rd minute, Carlos Sanchez took a corner that the goal keeper missed. Unfortunately for him Suarez was there to capitalise on the error, and with that strike he scored the only goal of the game – and became the first Uruguayan player to score at three different World Cups.

Saudi Arabia never really got much of a chance after that and couldn’t find any real chances at the Uruguayan goal. It was pretty plain sailing for the rest of the match for Uruguay as they secured their knockout spot and ensured an early exit for the Saudis.

Result: 1 – 0 to Uruguay

Match 3 – 19.00: Iran v Spain

Iran had everything to play for in this match after its surprise victory over Morocco. If the team could create a bit of magic in this game, then it could possibly be an entry into the top 16. But they had Spain to overcome first…

After a  hard fought drawn with Portugal, Spain were in the unusual position of sitting below Iran on the table, so it was a must win game. However, it was not as easy as the Spaniards were hoping.

The Iranians were fighting hard for the whole of the first half; Spain was unable to break down the defences  and this left the Spanish team completely frustrated in the first half, when they went back to the locker room empty handed.

Goal of the Match

However, in the second half, Diego Costa managed to break the deadlock and in the 53rd minute, when Ramin Rezaeian’s attempt to clear hit Costa’s leg and went straight into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. This saw Iran becoming more adventurous in play and almost levelling the game with a header that flew just a little too high.

Iran could never quite pull it back and that was the goal that decided the game. After Portugal’s win against Morocco, this would see Iran drop from first to third… and the table start to look as we always thought it would.

Result: 1 – 0 to Spain

Thursday 21st June

Match 1 – 13.00: Denmark v Australia

Many people thought this game had Denmark written all over it – but Australia proved they weren’t going to be a walk over. Holding out to the bitter end they managed to keep their cool for a decent 1-1 draw.

It looked like it was going to be a tough one for Australia when Denmark flew out of the starting gates with some impressive play – and managed to get a goal in the first seven minutes – courtesy of Christian Eriksen. He may not be seen as the most efficient striker in the world, but he pulled it out of the hat when it really mattered and put Australia on the back foot straight away.

Australia did try to pull it back and Leckie managed to get in a decent header, but it went just over the bar. This saw Denmark with an opportunity to counter and Eriksen almost netted goal number two.

Danes Under Pressure

Australia continued to try and push forward but it looked for a while as though Denmark was going to double its lead as there were a fair few near misses. However, in the 35th minute the ref, with the help of VAR, decided that Poulsen used his hand to block Leckie’s header and awarded a penalty. Jedinak converted it to a goal and this was enough to get them on an even playing field again. Half time saw the teams drawing 1-1.

Early into the second half, Poulson had a penalty appeal himself, but this was discarded. Schmeichel also had a scare when he failed to clear a looping long ball and a Leckie shot buzzed past the goal. A sub near the end saw the Aussies get another chance as the tournament’s youngest player, Daniel Arzani, set up Aaron Mooy for a great shot that flew just over the top right corner of the Danish goal. Despite the pressure, no more goals were scored and the game ended up as a draw, which means that Australia need a win against Peru to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Result: 1 – 1 draw.

Match 2 – 16.00: France v Peru

This one always had to be France. As a team that are one of the favourites to win the whole tournament, they have to beat a team like Peru.

Well, this game pretty much went as expected – although maybe we may have expected a few more goals from France as they won by just the one goal to nil. France wasn’t particularly convincing wen defeating Australia and the win over Peru was equally as lacklustre.

The first part of the opening half saw France with several missed opportunities that seemed to break their spirit a little. Peru failed to capitalise on this however and in the 34th minute France came back to life and Mbappe give Les Bleus the lead. Half time saw the French in front.

A Game of Two Halves

The Gauls had several blocked and failed attempts at doubling their lead and Peru had several decent attempts on goal but couldn’t quite hit the target. In the 82nd minute, sub Ousmane Dembele almost wrapped the game up for the French, but the shot went wide.

Despite many good attempts at goal from both sides, it was just the one that decided the outcome – giving France yet another unconvincing win.

Result: 2 – 0 to France

Match 3 – 19.00: Argentina v Croatia

If there’s anything us English like to see almost as much as England winning – it’s Argentina losing… and we got to see it here – convincingly.

If we thought Argentina had a shaky start against the ice men, then we hadn’t seen anything yet. This was not a good game for the Argies. It was actually all rather embarrassing for Messi and Co.

Argentina came out to a bright, sparky and energetic Croatian team. Sampaoli’s team were much less convincing, but managed to hold their defences for the entire first half. However, despite managing to keep a clean sheet in the first time, the play wasn’t great and morale was not high.

Argie Bargy

This came through and was very apparent in the appallingly dismal second half. The resolve of Argentina seemed to drop, and in the 53rd minute of the game they conceded their first goal to Rebic when Caballero’s stray pass to Mercado was booted into the net.

Argentina did bounce back and seem to get some energy back and made a decent attempt, but Subasic managed to keep out Meza’s close range shot. However, although no goal came for the Argentinians, in the 80th minute Modric managed to double the Croatian lead, leaving the Argentians reeling with little chance of a comeback. The deal was done finally in the 91st minute when Rakitic made it 3 nil and the Argies were lost. Argentina is on the ropes.

 Result: 3 – 0 to Croatia

Friday 22nd June

Match 1 – 13.00: Brazil v Costa Rica

With a disappointing opening game for the Samba boys the Brazilians needed a good result against the Costa Ricans and with strikers like Neymar and Coutinho it was a done deal. However – talk about leaving it til the last minutes…

The Brazilians were desperate for a win after being held to a draw by the Swiss. However, to say their first half was dull and heavy would be an understatement. The Brazilians had the lion share of possession, but never managed to make the most of it and missed some pretty decent chances. In fact, they put the ball in the net in the 26th minute, but it was ruled offside and disallowed. The first half finished off goalless with Brazil getting frustrated.

The second half saw the Brazilians come out; still clearly frustrated by decisions they deemed to be unfair. This wasn’t helped when Neymar fell theatrically to the ground, hoping for a penalty – which was again, disregarded by the ref. The Brazilians were running out of ideas and time. However, it was in injury time that the breakthrough came. In the 91st minute, Firmino headed a cross in front of the goal, which Jesus flicked into the path of Coutinho and was toe poked into the goal. Finally Brazil had broken them. Just minutes later they score another when Neymar scored after a break from Costa. Wait 90 mins for a goal and then 2 come along at once.

Result: 2 – 0 to Brazil

Match 2 – 16.00: Nigeria v Iceland

Iceland managed a pretty incredible result against the Argies and they had a chance to solidify the result against Nigeria. Unfortunately the Nigerians put paid to that by beating the ice men and giving the Argentinians hope of qualification.

Iceland started strongly and came out the starting gates looking quick and fresh and almost scored pretty early on. Nigeria, on the other hand, started a little more carefully. Iceland seemed more than happy to sit back, and despite a flurry of half chances, the first half ended goalless.

However, the Nigerians were quick out of the starting block and managed to set Moses free and he sent a cross that Musa managed to send flying into the net in the 49th minute. After several more chances and a penalty that Iceland failed to capitalise in, Nigeria’s Musa scored the clincher in the 75th minute and Iceland could find no way back. The Ice men were in trouble and are in danger of heading home.

Result: 2 – 0 to Nigeria

Match 3 – 19.00: Serbia v Switzerland

After an impressive display against the Samba boys, Switzerland was looking to make the most of it and score a win against Serbia. Although it started off not so well – going a goal down in 5 minutes to Serbia, they managed a great comeback and won 2 – 1 in the end.

Serbia was quick of the mark and went ahead in 5 minutes after a cracking header from Mitrovic. Serbia controlled the game in the first half and really should have gone into half time up by at least two goals, but never managed to get that elusive second.

Xhaka Attack

However, 7 minutes into the second half, Switzerland managed to get an equaliser as Xhaka ran straight onto a loose ball and got an impressive 25 yard drive into the corner of the goal. Serbia’s energy seemed to drop in the second half compared to the first half and it was evident. Switzerland kept on pushing and Shaqiri managed to get a last minute goal which saw the Swiss team get those three points. It was a close fought match and the teams were pretty even, but the Swiss team managed to find that vital second goal that eluded the Serbs.

Result: 2 – 1 to Switzerland

Saturday 23rd June

Match 1 – 13.00: Belgium v Tunisia

It was a game that the English were watching with eager anticipation, eyeing up the competition. We knew that the Tunisians were tough and were fond of getting physical in the penalty box. It was expected that Belgium would win, but by what score line?

Lukaku scored twice in the first game and looked to equal in this game – to take him up there with Ronaldo as the tournament’s top goal scorer.  However, it was Eden Hazard who opened up the goal scoring when he converted a penalty in the sixth minute (the ref actually gave a penalty against the Tunisians this time!) This was just the start of the goal scoring fest as Lokaku took his turn just ten minutes later to double the lead. However, Belgium looked to sit back a little and this was punished by the Tunisians who managed to get one back from a free kick.

Tunisia also felt that they should have had a penalty when Khazri was seemingly hit in the face by Vertoghen in the penalty area. However, we aren’t that fussed about Tunisia not getting penalties they feel they deserve…

Tunisia did look threatening at times but were often shaky and the Belgians took advantage of this. Just before the half time whistle, Lukaku got goal number three and they went into the break with a decent lead.

Half Time Blues

Just about 5 minutes into the second half, Tunisia found themselves 4 -1 down after an incredible goal from Hazard. The game looked to be signed, sealed and delivered. However, that was not the end of the goal scoring. In the 90th minute, Batshuayi managed to get goal number 5 for Belgium … but it was in the 93rd minute that Tunisia took a final bite of the apple and scored to make it 5-2. It was a very convincing win and shows England that we have some serious competition.

Result: 5 – 2 to Belgium

Match 2 – 16.00: South Korea v Mexico

After the historic win against Germany, Mexico looked ready to make it win number two against the underdogs South Korea. Mexico was on a high and knew that to win meant it was likely they would qualify.

The game started out with some pretty decent attacking play from South Korea, and both teams were pushing forward. There were some great shots from Heung-Min Son, but both were blocked successfully. In the 25th minute, Guardado sent in a dangerous looking cross and Jang handles the ball… leading to a Mexico penalty. This was swiftly taken by Vela and scored.  It was a well-deserved goal as their play had been better overall.

There were plenty of attacks and counter attacks, with Mexico looking the stronger of the two but by half time it was still 1 – 0.

Go Go Mexico

The second half started with lots of tooing and froing and a yellow card for Yong Lee. Then, in the 66th minute Mexico won the ball, Lozano drove it forward and played it to Chicharito. He then faked a shot, pulled it back and then sent it flying into the back of the net. What a beauty! For the rest of the half it really seemed as though South Korea had no answer. However, in the 93rd minute, the Koreans scored a goal from nowhere and with 2 minutes left they fought desperately for the equaliser. However, Mexico were hanging out for time and holding the ball, giving South Korea no chances. It was all over and Mexico had their second win.

Result: 2 – 1 to Mexico

Match 3 – 19.00: Germany v Sweden

Germany were looking to get back on track with this vitally important game against Sweden, whilst the Swedes were looking to capitalise on their successful first game, although the Germans would prove to be a much trickier task. Despite a capital effort, a last minute goal from Kroos saw the Germans Kroos to victory.

Germany came out terrifyingly strong at first and the Swedish team did well to withstand such a strong attack without conceding. It looked as though this would be a very long game for the Swedes. Although Sweden had a couple of decent chances, the Germans were dominating. However, the Germans could not finish and the first goal came from Toivonen in the 32nd minute and the Germans were on the back foot.

Not a team to be disheartened, the Germans push on and try to score back and almost hit the mark with a deflected shot from Muller. However, nothing seems to work and Germany, the defending champions went into half-time losing. These favourites still have a chance.

Kroos Control

Germany must have had a great team talk though, as 3 minutes into the second half, Reus scored and equaliser, and it appeared as though all was not lost. With chances aplenty on both sides, it’s surprising that no more goals were scored. However, what could have been a decider happened in the 82nd minute when Boateng received his second yellow and was sent off. It looked great for Sweden.

Typical of Germany though, the team managed to hold out and in the 89th minute Sweden gave away a very dangerous free kick near their goal. It is in the 90th minute that Kroos kicks it sweetly into the back of the net and takes them one goal up. Germany turned disaster into triumph as the Swedes were left with no real time to answer back. The German team snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and were not very gracious with it either – leading to some gloating and some very ugly scenes on the final whistle. The tables had turned and now the Swedes were in trouble and Germany looked set to qualify again.

Result: 2 – 1 to Germany

Sunday 24th June

Match 1 – 13.00: England v Panama

On paper this was an easy game – but England is known to never make life easy. Tunisia should have been an easy game too – but we made hard work of it. Any England fan knows that supporting England is a tough one.

England started off very confidently with some very sound play and attacked within minutes of the opening whistle. Panama were in trouble already, especially considering the amount of yellow cards the players were on. The Panamanians pushed with a decent counter, but to no real effect. England pushed back and was awarded a corner. Despite lots of pushing and pulling of Kane, the Panamanians erroneously left Stones unmarked and he headed it into the goal for Englands first in just eight minutes.

Struggling, Panama got yet another yellow card for a foul and looked a bit panicky. However, they continue with positive play. England continued to push and Lingard had a great chance before Torres and Escobar brought him down in the box – penalty for England at last. Along came Harry and put it safely away. Two goals in 22 minutes… Could this be England?

Goals Aplenty

Panama started to play a little better after this, but England’s long balls seemed to be causing problems and in the 33rd minute, England got another set piece – which is one of the team’s strengths. Assisted by Sterling, Lingard curled the ball beautifully into the top right of the goal. 3 goals before half time – again… could this be England?

It started to get a little silly as just seven minutes later the Panamanian goalie managed to block a shot from Sterling but went straight at Stones who scored his second of the match… 4 goals before half time…?

But we weren’t done yet for sure. One minute before half time, Panama gave away a clear penalty and just before half time Kane got his second of the match with another penalty, England going into half time with a 5 – 0 lead. INSANE!

The sixth for England came in the 62nd minute when Kane scored from his heel; for the first time in World Cup history, England fans were watching a stress free game. Unfortunately for the England squad, Panama managed to net one in the 78th minute, but it was purely a consolation goal – although fans were celebrating like they’d won the tournament. England sat back and enjoyed the best win in England’s World Cup history. We were going into the final match top of the group… This could possibly be added to one of England’s best World Cup moments!

Result: 6 – 1 to England

Match 2 – 16.00: Japan v Senegal

Group H was still very open and there hasn’t been any clear favourite in this group. Every game is a must win for every team and there are no easy games here. Senegal came fresh from victory over Poland and Japan managed an unlikely win over Colombia. Both top teams were fighting over top spot.

Senegal got off to an incredible start. After great game play, Liverpool ace Mane put the team one goal ahead in just eleven minutes. They don’t hold back though, and kept on attacking – trying to get more.  However, after a slow start, Japan started getting back into the game and played some dangerous shots.  This fast pace game saw lots of attacking play from both sides, but it was Japan, in the 33rd minute, which scored the second goal, bringing them level again. The half time whistle blew with the very fair score of 1 -1.

Japan Fight On

The Senegalese came back out fighting and ready for the second goal, but chances came and went for both teams. It was in the 71st minute that Senegal succeeded in taking the lead once more; Wague smashed the ball in the top of the net. This didn’t stop the Japanese from fighting back. Just 7 minutes later, the Senegalese goalie made a catastrophic error as he completely missed the ball. Honda took full advantage and drew the Japanese back level again.

Both teams fought hard and it really was an exciting match to watch, with goals and yellow cards aplenty. However, no more goals came and the game finished off as a very fair 2 -2. The top table teams stay top for now.

Result: 2 -2 draw

Match 3 – 19.00: Poland v Colombia

Both teams had a lot to prove after their previous losses and both teams were up against the ropes. This game really was a battle for survival.

The Poles started off like a team going out to win and had a couple of early chances; about ten minutes into the game, it seemed like a pretty even match.  The ball was sent up and down the pitch, with chances on each side.  However, in the 40th minute, Cuadrado won a corner which Colombia took short. Rodriguez got the ball and put in a cross which Yerry Mina met with his head and put into the net. Colombia was one up. The Poles seemed to panic and slowed down a bit and half time saw Colombia leading the way.

Colombia Net the Win

In the second half, Colombia threatened the Polish goal a few times; however, the Poles did have a few chances of their own. In the 70th minute Colombia took another chance on a counter attack and Falcao managed to slot the second goal home. Things were already looking bad for Poland but in the 75th minute it got even worse. Cuadrado hit the ball into the net for a third – and there was no way back for Poland. Although there were some decent chances on both sides, none came to anything. It ended up with Colombia taking a win and the Polish on their way back to Poland.

Result: 3 – 0 to Colombia