Nearly a week into the 2018 World Cup and all of the first round of matches are completed. Under-performers, over-performers and lots, and lots, of penalties.
Colombia 1 Japan 2
The first red card of the tournament was administered in the opening passages of the first game in group H. Colombian Carlos Sanchez blatantly handled the ball in the area. His red card becoming the second fastest in World Cup history. Gifting the Japanese an early lead as Shinji Kagawa easily dispatched the penalty.
For the remainder of the first half, Colombia were largely the better side. Despite being down to ten men and a goal down, too. They created more chances and looked more likely than Japan to get the second goal of the game and they, in time, did.
Juan Quintero become the first ever Colombian to score at two World Cup’s with his effort that squeaked in. His free-kick was guided under the wall with pace and accuracy with just enough on it to sneak in at the near post.
The Japanese goalkeeper, Eiji Kawashima protested with all of his might to the referee that it didn’t cross the line. He must have gotten goal line technology and video assistant refereeing mixed up. Especially seeing as GLT has 100% accuracy and is a literally flawless system.
The drama of the game would not end there as Japan got back in front through Yuya Osako. The Japanese striker was quiet for most of the game but came up good when needed most, giving Japan a historic win not only for them but for their confederation. Asia’s first win since Japan won 3-1 in South Africa.
Poland 1 Senegal 2
Oh, Mane, Mane.
Liverpool’s own Sadio Mane helped his nation retain their all-time unbeaten World Cup group stage record. The Senegalese side defied all expectations and gave Poland the game of their lives.
Everyone went into the game expecting Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik to run riot but the Senegalese team put the Poles to the sword in fantastic fashion.
To be fair, both goals were utter gifts. The first was an own goal from Thiago Cionek. The second was a mis-step from Gregorz Krychowiak, who allowed M’Baye Niang all the space in the world to round the keeper and double Senegal’s lead.
Krychowiak did make amends though, scoring Poland’s only goal as the game moved into it’s final stages. It wasn’t enough for the Poles to get back into the game, it finished with Poland losing for the first time ever to African opposition at the WC.
Russia 3 Egypt 1
Another heartbreak for Mo Salah.
Egypt are still without a World Cup win of any kind after losing out 3-1 to the hosts, Russia. The Russian team have surprised everyone with their work ethic and ability to run themselves into the ground, it’s almost like something is up with that…
Ahmed Fathy scored the first goal but for the entirely wrong side. An unfortunate own-goal which was extremely cruel to the Egyptian captain. That also takes us to five own-goals this competition, one short of the record (6), which was set in 1998.
Denis Cheryshev continued his impressive start to the World Cup by getting his third goal of the competition in two games. The Russian scoring was rounded out by Artem Dzuyba, who got his second of the competition.
Egypt’s consolation came in the form of a penalty, won and scored by the Egyptian King himself, Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool talisman looked way off the boil from the outset here, still looking like he was recovering from his shoulder injury that came at the hand of Sergio Ramos.
This means we could have our first eliminations of the tournament tomorrow, with Saudi Arabia playing for their campaign and Egypt relying on them to get a result.
We’ll see you tomorrow, possibly being down to 30 teams, maybe less? Who knows, the magic of the World Cup continues…