AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 15: Cruel Exit For Senegal As Colombia And Japan Advance
Senegal exited the 2018 World Cup in a way no other side ever has in Day 15 action. The African side, 1-0 losers to Colombia in their Group Stage finale, lost out on progression to the last 16 to Japan due an inferior ‘fair play’ record. In a World Cup first, Senegal went out due to the fact that they had amassed six yellow cards in the Group H play compared to four for Japan. Elsewhere, Japan lost to Poland 1-0, but scraped through to the Round of 16. In Group G, Belgium defeated England for top spot in the group, while Tunisia picked up three points with a 2-1 over Panama.
Senegal’s World Cup dreams ended in Samara with a 1-0 defeat to Colombia. Los Cafeteros lost leader James Rodriguez 30 minutes in to a calf injury. They struggled without their influential playmaker to create clear-cut chances.
After Senegal had a penalty taken away thanks to VAR, Colombia seized the initiative as Yerry Mina scored his second goal of the tournament with a header from a corner-kick on 74 minutes. Senegal created a couple of dangerous situations, but could not find a breakthrough and after being tied on points, goal difference, goals scored, and head-to-head with Japan they went out due to having picked up two more yellow cards in the ‘fair play’ rule.
Match Rating - 7: Not a bad match by any means, however many were hoping this would have been a more open contest between two talented attacking sides. It was a tight affair, the type usually won by a single moment of inspiration as was this match with Mina’s towering header.
Poland finally showed up to play at this World Cup, but their 1-0 victory over Japan was too little, too late. The Polish side took the match thanks to Jan Bednarek’s goal just before the hour. It was by no means an earth-shattering performance by Adam Nawalka’s men, though they did offer a response to their previous two insipid displays.
Japan disappointed in a match they were expected to do better in after defeating Colombia and coming back twice to draw with Senegal. If they are to harbor hopes of progression in the knockout rounds they will simply have to perform much, much better than they did in this match.
Match Rating - 6: Poland showed why they are such a frustrating side at major tournaments. There is always an expectation they will do well and so often they fail to live up to the hype until nothing is on the line.
Belgium took a 1-0 victory over England to see them take the top spot in Group G. Adnan Januzaj’s 51st minute strike saw the Belgians pick up their third win from three matches in this section.
Both teams made changes to their starting eleven. The tension so ever-present in other matches this week seemed to be lacking in this tie as both teams were already through. There was no lack of commitment by both teams, but inspiration and motivation seemed badly lacking for this game.
Match Rating - 6: The talk heading into this match was whether it would be better to finish second and be in an ‘easier’ part of the draw. Both teams played like there was not so much riding on this.
Tunisia topped Panama 2-1 in a match that mattered very little except for pride. Panama took the lead through an Yassine Meriah own goal after 33 minutes. After the break though, a more purposeful Tunisian side helped turn the match on its head. Ben Youssef tied the game in the 51st minute assisted by Wahbi Khazri. Provider turned finisher 15 minutes later when Khazri fired Tunisia in front. The African side never looked back in picking up their first points of the tournament.
Match Rating - 7: This was a good match, not great, but perhaps better than expected. Tunisia, winners of their first World Cup match since 1978, did well to come back and conjured up some nice goals. Panama fought ever so hard and can leave this tournament with their head held high.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Adnan Januzaj’s superb well-measured curler to beat Jordan Pickford for the only goal of the game as Belgium defeated England was today’s standout goal.
Colombia through as Group H winners following 1-0 defeat of Senegal
Senegal eliminated due to losing out on ‘fair play’ record
Japan go down to Poland, but still advance to the Round of 16
Belgium beat England 1-0 to top Group G
Tunisia with first World Cup win in 40 years after defeat of Panama
Group Stage now over, knockout stage matches begin Friday.
Colombia v England and Belgium v Japan are the two knockout round matches from these two groups.
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
Surely to make most of the world pretty depressed, the first day off for the 2018 World Cup is on Friday.
Play resumes on Saturday with the start of the knockout round. In Round of 16 play, France and Argentina begin the day with their encounter in Kazan. Later on in Sochi is the clash between Uruguay and Portugal.