Here’s how it all went down in the last day of the Group Stages:
Japan came into the match needing one point to advance to the round of 16. I guess they were confident of doing so since they decided to rest most of their starters for a potential Round of 16 match. The match — pitted between one team of bench players versus another team with nothing to play for — made for a horrible watching experience. Japan looked happy sitting back and defending without risking to much going forward. Things got a little messy for Japan when Poland scored off a free kick that Jan Bednarek easily tapped in goal. Japan were out of the World Cup for about 15 minutes until Colombia scored against Senegal. With Colombia leading they knew they were advancing thanks to the new fair play rules tiebreaker and literally both teams just walked around the field kicking the ball until the end of the match. Not the most exciting way to advance but Japan will take it.
Colombia 1 – 0 Senegal
Both teams came into this one alive and needed a result to go through. It was an even match for the most part — Colombia had the possession, but Senegal had the better chances. The dramatic climax of the first half was VAR correctly overturning a penalty for Senegal. Sadly, an injury to Colombian superstar James Rodriguez denied us the chance to see his undeniable quality for most of the match.
With Japan losing to Poland, Senegal were topping the group as they drew with Colombia. But even thought they were playing without their most important player, Los Cafeteros were not done. In the 75th minute Barcelona’s Yerry Mina scored a towering header off a perfectly placed corner kick from Juan Fernando Quintero, a player that’s definitely not coming to the MLS.
Come for the Yerry Mina goal, stay for the celebration! pic.twitter.com/zTgeAbBagD— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 28, 2018
The goal gave Colombia the three points and top spot in Group H. For Senegal it was an unfair way to end their exciting World Cup run, becoming the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated based on the number of yellow cards they received. It’s also the first time since 1982 that there have been no African teams in the knockout stages.
Group H Standings
Panama 1- 2 Tunisia
Probably the two worst teams in the 2018 World Cup faced off to end their World Cup campaigns. Panama grabbed the lead in the 33th minute off a deflection by a Tunisia defender. It looked like Panama were on their way of their first World Cup win in their history, but Tunisia dominated possession and attacked until they found the equalizer in the 51st minute. Tunisia went on to take the lead with a goal in the 66th, winning their first world cup match in 40 years. This game was stupid fun.
So, both teams knew already they were going to the knockout stages and decided to rest most of their starters. Coming to this match it was rumored neither team really wanted to win, since the runner- up of Group G would go on the “easier” side of the bracket. It was a boring first half with both teams doing their best not to score. Things picked up quite a bit in the second half when Adnan Januzaj scored a golazo in the 51st minute.
Glad that Adnan Januzaj still wanted to score a #Golazo, even if both #Belgium and #England would rather finish 2nd.— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) June 28, 2018
Love that skillful rollover to create space, then a superb strike! #ENGBEL #ENG #BEL #RedDevils pic.twitter.com/A7mV9zfRwt
England woke up after the goal and desperately looked for an equalizer, but Belgium ended up holding on and finished top of the group while England finished second. Belgium will play Japan on Monday July 2 at 2:00 p.m. and England will face Colombia Tuesday July 3 at 2:00 p.m.. Most people will see it as a win for England but we all know they’re losing on penalties to Colombia. This game was also stupid.
To see the complete knockout stage schedule go here.