After all the first games were played there are some nations sitting pretty, some with a whole lot left to play for and some who are in danger of being knocked out of the tournament. Matchday two kicked off jubilation for some nations, and heartbreak for others. Here’s a look back at all the action in our World Cup Review of matchday two for Groups A and B
Matchday one for Group A saw the host’s Russia destroy Saudi Arabia 5-0, and Uruguay find a late goal to take all three points from Egypt. These results put Russia and Uruguay in the driver’s seat for matchday two. If the host’s and Uruguay could win their matches it would result in both going through to the knockout stage. For Egypt and Saudi Arabia the goal was clear win, and stay in contention; draw or lose and be eliminated before the final group stage match!
Russia: 3 Egypt: 1
In a must win game for Egypt, the African side would have their star player Mo Salah back in action. Russia would be looking to stop him, and build off their huge win in their first match! The first half was a good contest. Both sides had good attacking sequences. The best came from Egypt’s Salah who spun his defender in the box and fired a shot inches wide of the Russian net. No goals came in the first half, but the second half was a different story.
In a game where Egypt’s defense looked superb in the first half, the second half brought a collapse. one minute into the second half Russia sent in a half-hearted cross into the box. Egyptian defender Ahmed Fathy tried to clear a ball headed for Russian striker Artem Dzyuba. Fathy’s miss-clearance sent the ball backwards and past his keeper giving Russia the early second half lead.
10 minutes later Russia would find a second goal. This time it was some nice passing that lead to a clinical finish from winger Denis Cheryshev. Three minutes later Russia cleared an Egyptian chance out towards their striker Dzyuba. He chested the ball down, beat a defender and was in on goal; the striker then finished his chance effectively finishing off Egypt’s 2018 World Cup. Being down three goals with 28 minutes to play Egypt had to push men forward.
In the 73rd minute Egypts persistence paid off. Mo Salah was fouled right on the line of Russia Box. The head referee went to the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and they confirmed it was inside the box, and a penalty for Egypt. Salah stepped up, and banged home the chance to cut the deficit to tow goals. While this was a good attacking sequence by Egypt, it was not enough to get them back in the game. This one ended 3-1 in favor of Russia, and meant if Uruguay won the other match in Group A then Russia would be through to the knockout stage!
Uruguay: 1 Saudi Arabia: 0
In the second match in Group A, Uruguay looked to build on their matchday one win over Egypt; while, Saudi Arabia looked to stay alive in the tournament with a win. It was clear that Uruguay wanted this one more than Saudi Arabia. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani took the game into their own hands.
Uruguay came out swinging, and in the 23rd minute they found the goal they craved. A looping corner was sent into the box and bounced past Uruguayan’s and Saudi Arabian’s until a streaking Luis Suarez met the ball and hit it home! Uruguay had the lead and kept it into half time.
In the second half Uruguay picked up where they left off. They attacked and attacked. Saudi Arabia were lost when they got on the ball. Their disorganization lead to them losing the match. Uruguay take this one 1-0!
As Uruguay will be happy that this win ensures their moving on to the knockout stage, they will be upset to only score one goal. They now have everything to play for as they get ready to play Russia on matchday thee!
The results from matchday two in Group A have decided its fate. With Russia’s win over Egypt, and Uruguay’s win over Saudi Arabia, Russia make it to their first ever knockout stage of the World Cup; Uruguay also make it through to the Round of 16. This means that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are eliminated from the tournament with one game yet to play in the group stage. Both nations will get a curtain call game against each other. The only thing still to be determined in this group is the seeding of Russia and Uruguay. The two nations play each other on matchday three to determine the seeding. A win or draw for Russia would give them the one seed and Uruguay the two; the only way Uruguay get that one seed is by beating host’s Russia!
And so, Group A after two rounds of fixtures…
4) #KSA #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/S5bH2vsKE0
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018
Matchday one in Group B saw a thrilling 3-3 draw between Portugal and Spain, and a late own-goal by Morocco to give Iran all three points. Iran sat atop the group with a chance to be one of the two nations qualify for the knockout rounds with a win vs Spain in matchday two. Spain could hop over Iran with a victory of their own! Portugal look for their first win in the group as they take on Morocco, who need a win to stay alive in Group B!
Portugal: 1 Morocco: 0
In a crucial match for both sides, Portugal knew that if they could get a win they’ll stay in contention for the knockout round, while Morocco needs a win just to stay a have a chance to qualify for the knockout rounds on matchday three. In a match that had a lot of back and forth, it was interesting to see that a major tipping point happened in the forth minute of action.
The fourth minute of play Portugal had a corner. They played it short to confuse Moroccan defenders. After playing a short corner, the ball was whipped into the box. Christiano Ronlado shook his man, and met the ball with a thunderous header! The ball flew into the net giving Portugal the early lead. With their backs against the wall, Morocco knew they had to push for two goals.
Morocco had plenty of chances as the game moved on, unfortunately they were not able to finish any of them. Whenever Morocco seemed to be in a groove, Portugal dispossessed them and looked to create more chances themselves. In the end, Morocco couldn’t find the quality to put one past Portugal.This match ended 1-0, giving all three points to Portugal!
Spain: 1 Iran: 0
The second matchup in Group B is crucial for how matchday three will play out. Should Iran secure all three points over Spain, they would automatically qualify for the knockout stage. If Spain found a way to win, then it would propel them above Iran. A Spain win would put level on points with Portugal, and produce a final day in Group B with everything to play for!
The entire match was an open affair. Both sides went up and down the pitch, Spain showing some more quality in their buildup, while Iran used a more direct approach. This first half was a fun watch, but neither side was able to find that elusive goal. As the second half started Spain looked to turn their passing possession game up a notch. They stifled Iran at every turn, but failed to find a goal early on. When Iran found the chance to hit Spain on the counter attack, they came very close to opening the scoring have a few chance that hit side netting or forced David De Gea into a save. The game turned on a spot of brilliance by Spain’s Andres Iniesta.
After a failed clearance by Iran, Iniesta found himself on the ball out wide. He carried it into the middle of the field beat one defender on the dribble, and slotted a picture perfect pass into the box towards the feet of Diego Costa. Costa was able to hold off a defender and get his foot on the ball to beat the Iranian keeper. Spain’s lead was almost in jeopardy eight minutes later, as a scramble in their box resulted in Iran putting the ball in the net. However, the goal did not stand due to a call made by the assistant referee.
In a crucial match for both sides, Spain emerged the victor. Now both sides will have everything to play for in their last match in the group. This match ended 1-0 in favor of Spain!
As matchday two comes to a close, things have become very interesting. First the bad news for Morocco; their 1-0 Loss to Ronaldo and Portugal have them eliminated from the knockout stage, with a game to play. They will try to play spoiler for Spain in their last match in Russia 2018. As the saying goes misery loves company, could Morocco spoil Spain’s knockout round hopes in matchday three? Spain is sitting pretty with four points, which is enough to lead the group. If they win or draw Morocco, they’ll be through to the Round of 16! The big match is Portugal vs Iran. If there is a winner, then it could doom the loser to missing the knockout rounds. In terms of drama, matchday three of Group B will have blood pressures rising, and hearts pumping!
All to play for in Group B for #POR #ESP and #IRN in the final round of fixtures… #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/75h32KvqE6
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018
As the tournament roles on, we will continue our reviews! Come back tomorrow for a review Match two of Groups C and D! 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:
Denmark vs Australia (Group C) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
France vs Peru (Group C) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
Argentina vs Croatia (Group D) – REPLAY – FoxSportsGO App
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Mandatory Credit: Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports