Matchday one is almost over for every country. Groups G and H are the last to kick things off at Russia 2018. Our World Cup Review looks at the results from Groups G and H!
Group G is another World Cup group with two clear favorites and two underdogs. Belgium are highly ranked, and ready to show that they can make it past the quarterfinals of the tournament. England are another favorite. This young squad is ready to throw the slumps of their previous World Cup efforts off their backs! Tunisia are an underdog, but are one of the better structured African teams. Panama are making their first World cup tournament and are ready to show that they belong!
Belgium: 3 Panama: 0
The first match of group G started out contrary to the way many expected. Panama held off the dangerous Belgium, and showed well in transitions in the first half of their opening World Cup match. As the half went on Belgium began to settle in and had many chances to score. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t find the back of net.
Belgium’s struggles faded away in the second half. After a chance was deflected high by the Panamanian defense, Dries Mertens hit a lovely volley that flew over the keeper and dipped at the last moment to end up in the net. Belgium were on the front foot two minutes after the half started and didn’t let up. Goal-scoring striker, Romelu Lukaku scored two goals six minutes apart to put the match to bed. Panama will feel hard done in their first World Cup match, however they still have two left. Belgium takes this one 3-0.
England: 2 Tunisia: 1
In a match that was huge for both nations, England looked to be the side that was more up for this match. Right off the bat they were raring to go. In the 10th minute they found their first goal. As a corner was headed on goal, and pushed away by the Tunisian goalkeeper, found the foot of Harry Kane. He put the ball into the open net and it looked like the rout could be on for England.
After their goal, Tunisia woke up. They began making smart runs forward and broke down England chances by playing balls over the England back line to run on to. A counter attack by Tunisia found the ball out wide.A looping cross was sent into the box behind center back Kyle Walker, towards an onrushing Tunisian attacker. Walker tried to win the ball, but threw his elbow back and knocked over the Tunisian attacker. A penalty was the result. Ferjani Sassi stepped up to take it and beat Jordan Pickford. Tunisia had their goal, and a tie going into half time.
As the second half began, it looked clear that Tunisia was fine with a draw and that England was gunning for a win. Chance after chance after chance came in from England, and each time Tunisia stopped them. As stoppage time came, it looked like it was a job well done by Tunisia to get a point. Then England won a corner. A ball was sent into the box; a contested header sent the ball to the back post. There to meet it was a wide open Harry Kane who slammed the headed chance home! England got their second goal and sunk Tunisia! England takes all three points by the score of 2-1!
Here’s where everything stands in Group G after the first round of matches. Belgium and England proved they are the favorites in this group. They have the fire power, and structure, to make a deep run in this tournament! Tunisia and Panama will have a lot of work to do to be able to get out of the hole they’re in after losing their respective first matches. It will take grit and determination, but that’s what this tournament is all about!
And so, after the first round of fixtures, Group G is looking like this…
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 18, 2018
The final group to play their first match has four teams who are all equally matched. Colombia were a Cinderella side in the 2014 tournament, their skill has them back looking to go on a another long run this time around. Japan was knocked out of the 2014 tournament by Colombia. They will be raring to go to show that they are leaps and bounds better than they were four years ago. Poland could be a sleeping European giant. Their star-studded team is ready to prove they can hang with the other. European big boys. Senegal are a strong African side, who may be underestimated. This hungry side will show what they are made of!
Colombia: 1 Japan: 2
Group H kicked off with a rematch of a group stage game from 2014. Colombia ended Japan’s hopes four years ago, will they do so again, or will Japan return the favor? Colombia didn’t make things easy on themselves.
In the third minute Carlos Sanchez blocked a shot with an extended arm inside his own box. This lead to a red card, and a penalty for Japan. Shinji Kagawa steeped up for Japan and slotted the chance away! Japan took the lead, but 10-man Colombia seemed to get better after going down a man. They kept the chances coming, and in the 39th minute they won a free kick. Juan Quintero took the chance well. The Japanese wall jumped, and Qunitero slipped the ball under their feet. The ball rolled on the ground and just past the outstretched finger-tips of the keeper! The half would end 1-1.
As the game continued, Japan took control. They started to dictate the play. The Japanese side started to create chance after chance as Colombia sat in and looked for space to counter. Colombia even brought on banged up star James Rodriguez to try to kick-start a counter attack. Alas it was to no avail. Japan continued their onslaught, and in the 73rd minute won a corner. A ball was swung into the box, and Yuya Osako rose to meet it. He headed the chance past the keeper and onto the post. The ball struck the post, and ricocheted into the net. After that chance went in, Colombia tried and failed to get attacks going being down a man. This match ended 2-1 in favor of japan!
Poland: 1 Senegal: 2
Group H’s favorite’s Poland took on African hopeful’s Senegal. In the beginning of the match, both sides were able to find space to operate. The game had a nice flow with both teams finding chances. That all changed in the 37th minute. a Senegal counter attack produced a shot that was deflected in the box by Polish defender Thiago Cionek, and wound up in his own net. Senegal took the 1-0 lead with them into halftime.
As the second half kicked off Senegal kicked it into second gear. They were the team on top, pushing Poland around on the field. Poland reverted to sitting back, and trying to create counter attacks by winning physical battles. Senegal began to frustrate Poland; they did so much that it knocked Poland’s focus. In the 60th minute M’Baye Niang was off to the side of the field for an injury. He was allowed right back onto the field. Poland had played the ball back to their keeper, and Niang ran onto the ball, played it past the keeper and taped home the chance. This gave Senegal a 2-0 lead!
At the death of the match, Poland stepped up to try to get back in the game. In the 86th minute, Poland won a free kick. A long ball was sent into the box. Grzegorz Krychowak rose up for Poland and headed the chance home! With four minutes left Poland were back in it. They pushed to get the equalizer, but Senegal had done too much! This one ended 2-1 for Senegal!
Of all the teams to lead the group in the well-rounded group H, Japan and Senegal were not the two the experts saw at the top of the group. Yet that’s what has happened. Japan and Senegal will look to continue this momentum moving forward in the group stage. Poland and Colombia will need to fight for their lives in their two matches remaining to even get close to Japan and Senegal!
And after today's results, Group H looks like this…
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 19, 2018
More action to come!
As the tournament roles on, we will continue our reviews! Come back Thursday for a review of Match 2 for Groups A and B! Catch all the games on Fox or Telemundo! Replays of matches are also available on the FoxSportsGO App!
Check out these matches or replays of today’s matches:
Colombia vs Japan (Group G) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
Poland vs Senegal (Group G) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
Russia vs Egypt (Group A) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!
Follow our writers on Twitter:
Mandatory Credit: Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports