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Samurai Success and Egyptian Elimination: Fallout from Day Six of the World Cup

Errr… I thought and thought, but didn’t find, a starting entry to this piece. Then again, better than the start (and honestly, most) of the Poland-Senegal game.

Colombia 1-2 Japan

It was an eventful start to this game in Saransk, only two minutes had clocked when Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez got his arm in the way of Shinji Kagawa’s goal-bound shot. Sanchez became the first sending-off casualty in this tournament, and the second fastest in history, after Jose Batista’s red card for Uruguay back in 1986, and after Kagawa slotted home the resulting penalty, Japan were in front. Colombia, without the injured James Rodriguez from the start, had their backs to the wall, and were required to play all but three minutes of the game with no more than 10 men, but a low Juan Fernando Quintero free-kick caught Eji Kawashima out, trickling over the line before the Japanese goalkeeper could react, to drag Los Cafeteros level. After the interval, Jose Pekerman’s side opted to retreat, seeming content to settle for a point, which wasn’t the worst idea with a man less, but Japan would find that extra gear and make their pressure tell, Yuya Osako heading home a Keisuke Honda corner with Colombian goalie David Ospina caught in no man’s land, to grab the winner.

Hit…

Yuya Osako: Stepped up in place of Shinji Okazaki, his impressive all-round play capped off by the winning goal. Also preserved Japan’s lead with an absolutely beautiful tackle on James Rodriguez.

Juan Quintero: His side may have lost, but he didn’t do too badly, starting out in the attacking midfield position in place of James, dropping deeper after Sanchez’s dismissal, then moving to the right when Juan Cuadrado was subbed. After petering out following the 2014 World Cup, Quintero showed more than a few glimpses of the quality many know he has but haven’t really quite seen.

Miss…

Carlos Sanchez: Became the first player to receive a red in this World Cup, after his rather ill-advised and instinctive ‘save’ to keep out Kagawa’s attempt. For some reason the Colombian protests over the decision took some two minutes.

David Ospina: Did himself, and his side no favours, after his indecision from a Japanese corner led to the opposition’s winning goal.

Eji Kawashima: Clever free-kick by Quintero, but surely the goalkeeper should have gotten to the ball much quicker. Nice of him wave his furiously over whether the ball crossed the line; if only VAR, Goal-line technology, the linesman and everyone watching didn’t see it cross.

Poland 1-2 Senegal

It was quite the first half in this game in Moscow, perhaps the most boring half of the World Cup, even if it did have a goal in it, Thiago Cionek deflecting Idrissa Gueye’s shot past his own goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to put Senegal in front. That lead was doubled in the second period, when an error by the Polish defence, and primarily Grzegorz Krychowiak, let in M’baye Niang, who made no mistake with an open goal. Krychowiak made up for his gaffe by halving the deficit with a late header, but the Teranga Lions held on to be the first African side to win a game in this World Cup.

Hit…

Aliou Cisse: The captain from Senegal’s great World Cup adventure of 16 years ago. He watched in the dugout, the youngest head coach in this World Cup at 42, as his side began this tournament with a win- like they did back in 2002.

M’baye Niang: The former Milan forward grabbed his first goal for Senegal, which turned out to be the winner.

Miss…

Poland up front: In comes the pun!! There was little polish (did warn you) in Poles’ attack in this game in Moscow, Robert Lewandowski barely finding any room, ditto Arkadiusz Milik. Credit to the Senegalese defence for their efforts, but Adam Nawalka’s side were blunt up front.

Russia 3-1 Egypt

Egypt needed a win to stay in the hunt for qualification in this group, and welcomed back Mohammed Salah, who sat out the defeat to Uruguay. The performance in the first half from the Pharaohs was lacklustre, almost looking for Salah at every turn, irrelevant of its convenience. They were attempts at goal in the first 45, Salah himself and Mohammed Trezeguet curling efforts wide, while at the other end Aleksandr Golovin fired an early shot wide, but it ended goalless. The second period was barely five minutes old when the hosts took the lead, Egypt skipper Ahmed Fathi with the misfortune of diverting a shot into his own net. One became two midway into the second period, with Denis Cheryshev getting his third goal of this World Cup, then almost immediately after Artem Dzyuba added Russia’s third. Salah pulled one back from a VAR-awarded penalty, but it was a mere consolation. The 2018 World Cup has its first casualty.

Hit…

Russia: The least-ranked side before the World Cup began, and not expected to amount to much, they’re cruising through the group stage, and have just about sealed their place in the knockout round. Eight goals in two games, the Russians have the fans onside, on their side, and won’t be short of belief as the tournament progresses.

Denis Cheryshev: Joint top-scorer at the World Cup as things stand, in league with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. And he only got his chance due to Alan Dzagoev’s injury.

Artem Dzyuba: Came on as a substitute in the first game, and scored with his first touch. Was given a start in the second, and didn’t disappoint, a well-taken finish added the gloss to Russia’s victory.

Miss…

Egypt: The first side to be eliminated from this World Cup. It took six days.

Ahmed Fathi: The skipper had his nightmarish moment, opening the floodgates with his inadvertent own goal.

Matter of fact…

  • Japan’s victory over Colombia is the first time an Asian side has beaten a South American in the World Cup.
  • Russia have bagged eight goals in two games, the same number of goals Spain in the entirety of their triumphant campaign in 2010.
  • Carlos Sanchez is the first re…oh, said that too much already.
  • Every African team has conceded from a set-piece in this World Cup.
  • I predicted Egypt to the reach the quarter-finals. Very nicely done.

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