In the final group games there were some surprises and some not so surprises. Mo Salah scored Egypt’s second goal of trhe tournament but they still ended with a third defeat losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. Uruguay comfortably beat Russia by 3 goals to nill leaving Russia second in the group after an impressive start.
Portugal only managed a 1-1 draw with Iran with Portugal leading for much of the game before conceeding a late penalty. Spain had a hard game against Morocco twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 with the second equlising goal the subject of VAR much to the consternation of Portugal. This meant that Spain topped the group at the end of the day.
France played Denmark knowing that a draw would be enough for both of them to qualify which is probaby why they played out a dull 0-0 draw. At least Peru and Australia both tried to go for it even if they didn’t have a great deal to play for. Peru won 2-0 to get their first points of the campaign leaving Australia rock bottom.
In group D Argentina needed to win the game and hope that Iceland didn’t for them to qualify. They started well with a smashing goal by Messi but then made hard work of it, Nigeria got one back and then started to have some decent chances before Rojo scored what turned out to be the winning goal.
Iceland had equal Argentina’s score to stand much of a chance buty Croatia were too strong for them and they managed an equitable 1-2 defeat. In the end Croatia topped the group and Argentina came in second. If it had been a draw Argentina would have been out.
In group E three teams were vying for qualification with Serbia taking on Brazil and Switzerland playing Costa Rica. Serbia new that a win would see them through as would Brazil. Switzerland needed to either draw or win and hope that Serbia didn’t win. Brazil merely needed to draw. Serbia had a few chances but Brazil had more and Brazil triumphed in the end 2-0. That meant that Switzerland needed a draw at least which they only went and got, but really should have won.
In group G Germany had to win and hope that either Sweden only drew or that that could win by a bigger margin that them. Sweden played Mexico and were by far the better team and came away three nill winners meaning that Germany had to equal or better than that. For most of the game Germany plugged away but could not get that first goal that they needed. In the end they got no goals and South Korea got two so the champions are now out and the field is wide open.
In group G England played Belgium for the top spot in the group but were not quite good enough on the day and Belgium won 1-0 which was the toughest test for England so far this tournament, which was’nt great, but at least is was not a knockout match, which would have been far worse. Tunisia beat Panama 2-1 to get their first point leaving poor Panama with three losses and no wins but two goals so not all bad news for them.
Group H saw Columbia, Japan and Senegal all hoping to qualify. Poland however could make the difference between how finishes 1nd and 2nd. Columbia beat an organised Senegal side 3-0 wth Poland beating Japan 1-0. This meant that Columbia topped the groupd and Japan came 2nd. All it would have taken for Sengegal to qualify would be an equaliser than then they would have finished second as Japan failed to beat Poland. Of course if Japan won then Senegal would also have had to win and win by more as well.
So the round of 16 sees France and Argentina and Uruguay and Portugal and Brazil and Mexico and Belgium and Japan and Spain and Russia and Croatia and Denmark and Sweden and Switzerland and Columbia and England all going for a quarter final spot.
It is going to be interesting to see what happens next.