World Cup: Groups E & F Matchday 2 recap

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Groups E & F returned to the pitch on Sunday to continue their World Cup campaigns.

World Cup Matchday 2: Groups E & F

01.07.2018: SPAIN VS RUSSIA – Sergio Ramos of Spain celebrates after scoring a goal during the match between Spain and Russia valid for the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Fotoarena/Imago/Icon Sportswire)

World Cup Group E: Costa Rica 1 – Japan 0

After pulling off a come-from-behind win against Germany on Wednesday, Japan would be the ones shocked this time. Controlling possession for the majority of the match, Japan would squander their offensive opportunities, ultimately falling in the later stages to Costa Rica, 1-0.

At the start of the second half, Japan was beginning to find its legs. Costa Rica’s Francisco Calvo made a game-changing block for his side on what would’ve been a scoring chance for Japan. Takuma Asano was able to put himself in a position for a header off of a rebound from the block but was shut down by Keylor Navas. After a slow first half, the Japanese were beginning to find their pace.

Given a free kick in the 63rd minute, Yuki Soma had a perfect chance to get Japan ahead in the match. However, Soma’s free-kick sailed over the crossbar. Japan was awarded another free kick in the 72nd minute, but Costa Rica’s wall stopped their second opportunity.

Costa Rica took the lead in the 81st minute, keeping their World Cup hopes alive. Keysher Fuller’s left foot shot beat Japan’s Shuichi Gonda who made an outstretched attempt to make a save. The goal from Fuller was Costa Rica’s first shot on goal of the match.

Japan came so close to tying the match in the 88th minute, but Navas’s save would give Costa Rica their first win of the 2022 World Cup.

Match Highlights

World Cup Group E: Spain 1 – Germany 1

Germany entered their match against Spain with zero points in Group E. Falling to Japan on Wednesday, the Germans needed to pick up crucial points against the Spaniards. Instead of three, they’ll settle for just one to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

The man who scored Spain’s first goal of the World Cup against Costa Rica, Dani Olmo, had an attempt to give his country an early lead in the seventh minute. With a right foot shot from outside the box, Olmo’s attempt was deflected off of Manuel Neuer and then off the crossbar.

Spain’s goalkeeper, Unai Simon, nearly gave Germany a goal-scoring opportunity in the 25th minute. A missed judged pass found its way to Serge Gnabry who sent his shot wide of the goal. A lucky break for Spain, but a missed chance for Germany.

Germany’s Antonio Rudiger scored a header in the 40th minute from a free kick, but like we’ve seen all tournament, VAR had the final say and the goal was overturned to do offsides. At the end of the first half, the score was even, 0-0.

In the 56th minute, Simon made a huge save on Joshua Kimmich. Another poor pass from Simon and an aggressive run from Kimmich saw the German get a shot off. Simon’s save was another lucky break for Spain.

In the 62nd minute, Alvaro Morata would put Spain on the board after being subbed on in the 54th minute. Jordi Alba found Morata sprinting toward the goal. Alba played a perfect through ball to Morata, and the Atletico Madrid forward found the back of the goal.

Simon stepped up once again in the 73rd minute. German wunderkind Jamal Musiala broke through Spain’s defense but was robbed point-blank by Simon. A perfect opportunity to equalize the match, the Germans would need to wait.

Ten minutes later, Niclas Fulkrug tied the game for the Germans. A passing play from Lukas Klostermann to Leroy Sane, then to Musiala, ended up on the foot of Fulkrug who kept the Germans’ World Cup dreams alive.

Sane nearly gave Germany the lead in the closing stages of the match, but the ball just escaped him at the last second, causing the play to end. The game would end, 1-1.

Group E Standings

  • 1st: Spain – 4 pts
  • 2nd: Japan – 3 pts
  • 3rd: Costa Rica: 3 pts
  • 4th: Germany – 1 pt

Match Highlights

World Cup Group F: Morocco 2 – Belgium 0

A World Cup full of upsets thus far, Morocco added their name to the list. Morocco’s upset over Belgium was their first World Cup win since 1998 and their third win ever. It was also Belgium’s 50th-ever World Cup match.

Belgium put pressure on Morocco early on. In the fifth minute, Michy Batshuay’s attempt was saved by Monir El Kajoui. Hakim Ziyech appeared to give Morocco a 1-0 lead in the closing stages of the first half from a free kick, but VAR would rule the goal offside.

In the second half, Eden Hazard let off a strike, ultimately saved by El Kajoui. Sofiane Boufal had Thibaut Courtois beat in the 57th minute, but his strike sailed just wide. Abdelhamid Sabiri put Morocco on the board first in the 73rd minute from a free kick. This free kick didn’t need a VAR review and Morocco would take the lead.

Morocco would double their lead in the dying minutes of the final half. Zakaria Aboukhlal received a pass from Sabiri, beating Courtois high. Morocco would earn a much-needed three points, shocking the Belgians.

Match Highlights

World Cup Group F: Croatia 4 – Canada 1

Searching for their first wins of the tournament, an important three points were on the line for both Croatia and Canada. After 90 minutes, Croatia would thump Canada, 4-1. The Croatians now sit at the top of Group F, while Canada has been eliminated from the tournament.

Alphonso Davies scored for Canada just 66 seconds into the match. His first-ever World Cup and also Canada’s gave the Canadians an important and early lead. Andrej Kramaric appeared to tie the game for Croatia in the 26th minute, but the offside flag appeared, keeping the lead for Canada.

Just ten minutes later, a goal from Kramaric would count this time. A beautiful passing play by the Croatians saw Kramaric equalize the match. Minutes before the end of the first half, Croatia would strike again, giving them the lead. Marko Livaja found enough space to get past Canada’s defenders, rifling a strike into the bottom right corner.

Kramaric struck again in the 70th minute to give Croatia a controlling 3-1 lead. A lovely cross from Ivan Perisic found Kramaric. Canada began to find momentum in the second half, but Kramaric’s goal from earlier would destroy whatever hopes the Canadians had left.

In the 90+4′, Croatia would add another goal for good measure. Blistering pace from Mislav Orsic would cause a breakaway for Croatia. Lovro Majer was beside Orsic on the breakaway and would give Croatia a 4-1 lead and victory.

Match Highlights

Group F Standings:

  • 1st: Croatia – 4 pts
  • 2nd: Morocco – 4 pts
  • 3rd: Belgium – 3 pts
  • 4th: Canada – 0 pts

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Mandatory Credit: Fotoarena/Imago/Icon Sportswire