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World Cup Matchday 13: France, Denmark sleepwalk into knockout rounds; Group D gets wild

This World Cup keeps getting better and better.

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Matchday 13 in the 2018 FIFA World saw the conclusion of another two groups, Group C and Group D. Group C provided no surprises with France and Denmark advancing. Group D was wide open and didn’t disappoint. Croatia knowing that they had already qualified for the next round decided to rest a couple of players, but they needed one point to secure the top spot in Group D. Meanwhile Iceland, Nigeria and Argentina needed wins and some help to go second in Group D.

Here’s a quick recap of today’s action:

Australia 0 - 2 Peru

Coming into this match, Australia had a slight chance of advancing to the next round. They needed to win, and Denmark had to lose against France. Neither happened. Peru had nothing to play for but that didn’t stop them for coming on strong. Having played some of the best football in this group but with no reward — today it finally happened for them. In the 18th minute Andre Carrillo scored from a cross that captain Paolo Guerrero sent to the far post. That Carrillo goal was the first for Peru in a World Cup in 36 years and gave them their first win in the World Cup in 40 years. You could see how much it meant to them.

In the 50th minute Guerrero added the second and that was the final score.

Denmark 0- 0 France

Both teams knew that a point would get them through the next round. France decided to rest 6 starters from their last 1-0 win against Peru. Neither team wanted to lose and it showed, as both teams were very conservative. Denmark fans started cheering in the stadium when Peru scored in the other simultaneous match against Australia. After that, the Danes likely knew they were advancing second in the group and saw the game out. It was a really boring game, but after 38 matches, it was the first draw in the 2018 World Cup. So... congratulations to them?

Group C Standings

FRA 2 1 0 3 1 2 7
DEN 1 2 0 2 1 1 5
PER 1 0 2 2 2 0 3
AUS 0 1 2 2 5 -3 1

Iceland 1- 2 Croatia

Croatia dominated most of the possession in the first half but couldn’t do anything with it. Iceland knew they had to win and had the best chances to score in the first half, but they just couldn’t finish in the final third. The second half was more of the same until Croatia finally broke down the Iceland defense in the 53th minute when Milan Badelj scored from a close-range volley. Iceland eventually tied it from the penalty spot, with overpriced Everton flop Gylfi Sigurðsson scoring the goal that gave Iceland some hope. But they couldn’t find the second one and Croatia restored their lead in the 90th with an Ivan Perišić goal. But with the Argentina drama happening, was anyone even paying attention to this game?

Nigeria 1- 2 Argentina

Nigeria needed a win and they would go to the next round, it was that simple. Argentina were under immense pressure and needed Iceland to lose against a weaker Croatia side. In the first half, Argentina came out with tons of energy and played the best they’ve done all tournament (though that’s not saying much). With a whole country and world looking at him to solve Argentina’s issues, Messi finally scored his first goal of the tournament giving Argentina the lead in the 14th minute, Messi’s goal with his weaker foot was sweet, but all credit goes to Ever Banega who made the perfect pass for him to finish. Argentina were cruising into the second half until Javier Mascherano decided to hug a Nigeria player inside the box and gave away a penalty. Nigeria tied it in the 51st minute through Victor Moses’ penalty kick. The 1-1 scoreline gave Nigeria second place in the group and kicked Argentina out of the World Cup. That is, until the 86th minute when defender Gabriel Mercado crossed to a streaking Marcos Rojo, who tucked it into the bottom corner, sending Argentina to the knockout round and saving Messi’s international career and GOAT credentials…. for now.

Group D Standings

CRO 3 0 0 7 1 6 9
ARG 1 1 1 3 5 -2 4
NGA 0 1 2 3 -1 3
ISL 0 1 2 2 5 -3 1

After wrapping these two groups we have some exciting match-ups in the round of 16. France will play Argentina June 30 and Croatia will play Denmark July 1.