So the World Cup is now in full swing and with two of the three group games played most of the teams know their fate and know if they are still in with a chance of reaching the knock out stages. But what about those nations from Europe who you would not expect to be in the running for the title this year? Below we take a look at just how these sides have progressed from their opening fixture and what is left for them to do in game three.
Result: Russia 3-1 Egypt
- Fathy (47′minutes og), – Salah (73′minutes pen)
- Cheryshev (59′minutes),
- Dzyuba (62′minutes)
The hosts continued their impressive start to the World Cup by securing their route to the last 16 with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over a Mo Salah led Egypt. Russia took the lead thanks to a bizarre 47th-minute own goal from Ahmed Fathi, who diverted Roman Zobnin’s shot into his own net. The impressive Denis Cheryshev doubled Russia’s advantage after he finished from Mario Fernandes’ pull-back, before Artem Dzyuba sealed the victory with a fine individual goal. Before the match reached it’s conclusion there was time for Salah to convert from the spot, but the match was already as good as over and the result leaves Egypt still looking for their first ever win at a World Cup finals.
Result: Denmark 1-1 Australia
- Eriksen (7′minutes) – Jedinak (38′minutes pen)
Denmark moved within a point of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw with Australia, but they were left bitter and angry after a controversial VAR decision saw them concede a penalty and with it the lead. The Danes were handed an early lead thanks to a sublime finish from Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen, who has now had a hand in 18 goals in his past 15 appearances for his country – 13 goals and five assists. However, the headlines were stolen when Yussuf Poulsen was adjudged to have handled in the area and Australia captain Mile Jedinak converted from the spot.
Result: Argentina 0-3 Croatia
- Rebic (53′minutes),
- Modric (80′minutes),
- Rakitic (90’+1minutes)
Croatia recorded the undoubted result of the round when they destroyed an Argentina side who were hoping to go on and win the competition. A dreadful error from Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero saw his side concede the opener after his attempted chip over Ante Rebic backfired badly, allowing the striker to volley into an exposed net in the 53rd minute. With the eternal Ronaldo vs Messi debate still roaring, it was Luka Modric who stole the show with curled shot from range drifted beautifully beyond Caballero’s dive to put his side two ahead, before Rakitic’s injury-time tap-in sealed a victory that moves the Europeans through to the knockout stage and also leaves them in a strong position to win the group.
Result: Nigeria 2-0 Iceland
- Musa (49′minutes, 75′minutes)
Following Argentina’s defeat, Group D was left wide open and an Iceland headed into their match with Nigeria knowing victory would see them qualify for the knock out stages on their World Cup debut. However, it was the Super Eagles who took a major step towards qualification when an Ahmed Musa double helped them to the three points. His first came thanks to a superb half-volley before the Leicester player rounded keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson to make it 2-0. Iceland missed a late penalty – awarded after a video assistant referee review – when Gylfi Sigurdsson fired over.
Result: Serbia 1-2 Switzerland
- Mitrovic (5′minutes) – Xhaka (52′minutes),
- Shaqiri (90′minutes)
Following on from their excellent disciplined performance in round one where they claimed a point from World Cup favourites Brazil, Switzerland took another huge step towards the knock out stages when they came from behind to claim a victory against Serbia. Aleksandar Mitrovic ensured the Serbs enjoyed an excellent start to the game when he put his side ahead with a header in the fifth minute. His physical presence was a constant irritation for the Swiss defence and he was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when two Swiss defenders used him as a climbing frame yet were somehow awarded the decision.
However, the second half saw things change around completely and in the 52nd minute Granit Xhaka drove a powerful strike from the edge of the box past the stranded Stojkovic to equalise. By this point the Swiss were well on top and when Shaqiri hit the post with a curling effort from the corner of the box, it was clear they were looking for the win. With the game entering it’s final stages, Shakiri grabbed the winner after he was left one on one with Dusko Tosic on the halfway line and he was too quick for the Serbia centre-back after Mario Gavranovic found him with a through ball.
Result: Germany 2-1 Sweden
- Reus (48′minutes), – Toivonen (32′minutes)
- Boateng (Dismissed at 82′minutes),
- Kroos (90’+5minutes)
It was a dramatic night in Russia as Sweden came within minutes of knocking Germany out of the World Cup. Ola Toivonen’s deft first-half lob had left Joachim Low’s side facing elimination and with the Swedes defending resolutely and hitting the Germans on the brake, it looked as though they were on course for a history making night. Marco Reus, starting in place of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, prodded in an equaliser as Germany assumed control after the interval. The dismissal of Jerome Boateng did little to stem the tide and the Germans were rewarded in the final minute of five added on when Kroos tapped a free-kick short to Reus before sweeping the return pass into the top right corner from left of the penalty area.
Result: Poland 0-3 Colombia
- Mina (40′minutes),
- Falcao (70′minutes),
- Ju Cuadrado (75′minutes)
The miserable World Cup campaign for Poland continued into their second match as a comfortable 3-0 defeat at the hands of Colombia ensured they would not be able to qualify for the knock out stages. Yerry Mina nodded in James Rodriguez’s cross shortly before half-time to put the South Americans ahead and their lead was then doubled when Radamel Falcao, who missed the finals four years ago with injury, drove a low strike into the far corner. Juan Cuadrado capped off a fine team performance with an accomplished finish after racing on to Rodriguez’s sublime ball behind the Poland defence.
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