Day 11 Review: England discover the Joy of Six and Colombia send Poland packing
After Belgium had thrown down the gauntlet in Group G with their 5 goal performance on Saturday, England picked it up with 6 of their own against hapless Panama. John Stones’ started the rout with a header after 6 minutes before Panama hacked down live wire midfielder Jesse Lingard handing Harry Kane a penalty which he thundered into the top corner for 2-0 after 20 minutes. Lingard then added a spectacular third and the contest was over in 35 minutes. A cleverly worked free kick saw Stones grab his second after Raheem Sterling’s header was parried for 4-0 and England had 5 before half-time when Panama tried wrestling 3 England players down during a corner and Kane smashed home the penalty.
England took their foot off the gas in the second half but Kane still deflected home the sixth taking him to the top of the Golden Boot ladder. Felipe Baloy made a bit of history with a late consolation: Panama’s first ever goal in a World Cup finals but England’s 6-1 takes them dead level with Belgium at the top of Group G with both nations guaranteed a last 16 berth.
That left Group H to complete the second run of fixtures starting with Japan against Senegal. Both were surprise winners of their openers and it was Senegal who made the brighter start and got a fortuitous goal when Eiji Kawashima in the Japanese goal fluffed a save and parried straight at the Liverpool striker. Takashi Inui drew Japan level with a beautiful curling effort from just inside the box. In the second half Japan hit the bar but Senegal were the more inventive side and retook the lead when young fullback Moussa Wague burst into the box to power home after M’Baye Niang miscontrolled. But Japan weren’t done and they handed a gift when Senegal ‘keeper Khadim N’Diaye returned Kaawashima’s favour by failing to collect a cross allowing Keisuke Honda a tap in for the equaliser- it meant Honda became the first Japanese player to score in 3 successive World Cups and the 2 teams have a share of the lead in Group H.
Finally came the do or die clash between Poland and Colombia in front of a partisan Colombian crowd. And after a slow start it was Colombia who picked up the tempo with James Rodriguez starting to show his 2014 form as his perfect chip from a short corner was headed home by Mina before half time. In the second half Colombia’s flair players found their cohesion and began cutting Poland open with Juan Quintero playing a perfect slide rule pass for Radamel Falcao to slot home for 2-0. The third prong of Colombia’s creative trident then got in on the act when Juan Cuadrado broke the offside trap to race passed Poland’s defence and add a late third and Poland were out.
Day 12 Preview
It’s time for the group phase to wind down starting with the first 2 groups…
Group A is almost decided with Uruguay and Russia facing off to decide in which order they will head into round 2 with Russia needing only a draw for top spot. Russia have been building incredible momentum in their home tournament but now face the ultimate party poopers in a Uruguay side that unceremoniously ended Africa’s dream in 2010. At the same time Egypt face Saudi Arabia in what is rumoured to be Mo Salah’s last ever appearance for his country, with Salah’s Egypt favourites to at least take home 3 points.
Predictions: Uruguay 2-1 Russia, Egypt 3-1 Saudi Arabia
Portugal or to give them their official name Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal need a draw as do Spain to confirm their qualification for round 2 whilst Iran must beat Portugal. Spain face already eliminated Morocco whose enterprising football has merited more but surely won’t be enough to upset Spain. Meanwhile Ronaldo has his chance to get back level with Kane in the golden boot race against an Iran team who’ve proved stubborn defensively but now need to go on the offensive. It would ultimately be the shock of the tournament if Iran win through and either of the Iberian neighbours fail to make the last 16
Predictions: Portugal 2-0 Iran, Spain 3-1 Morocco