The final matchday for Groups A and B at the 2022 Men’s World Cup didn’t disappoint in the slightest. There was drama in all four matches, and we now know who will make the first two matchups in the round of 16!
World Cup Matchday 3: Groups A & B
World Cup Group A: Netherlands 2 – 0 Qatar
In Group A play, the Netherlands knew they were going to the knockout rounds, while Qatar was the first host to ever be eliminated before the third and final game of the group stage. Their match went as you’d expect.
The Dutch dominated the match, they had the ball and kept it from Qatar with ease. Their lead attacker Cody Gakpo scored in his third straight game to give the Netherlands the lead. They took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and early in the second half added a second goal thanks to Frenkie de Jong. Qatar was nonexistent on that day. The team was in shambles; they barely had the ball, and when they did have the ball they didn’t look all that dangerous at all.
Qatar concealed a third goal but it was ruled back by VAR after a foul. The hosts ended their first World Cup experience with three losses and a negative six-goal differential. It was a rough time for them, and we’ll see if they can even make an expanded field World Cup in four years’ time. Meanwhile, the Dutch won Group A convincingly and are off to the round of 16.
World Cup Group A: Ecuador 1 – 2 Senegal
This match in Group A showcased two nations still alive and fighting for the knockout rounds. It was very straightforward, A win or draw for Ecuador would see them through, while Senegal had to win to advance. This match was an open one and played to each of the nation’s strengths.
Ecuador loves to play with the ball and build-up, and Senegal likes to sit in and counter. Early in the match, it was clear Ecuador was playing to not lose, and Senegal was playing to win. After almost one full half of frantic play, Senegal was able to win a penalty. Ismaila Sarr was able to slot home the penalty and Senegal had a 1-0 lead at the half.
Now that they were down, Ecuador woke up and got back to their build-up play, and it paid off in the 67th minute. Moises Caicedo put home an equalizer, and for a moment it looked as if Ecuador was going to swing the momentum back in their favor. However, Senegal kept pushing to find another goal, which they did not three minutes later. Kalidou Koulibaly scored the eventual winner in the 70th minute, and he and his Senegal teammates defended for their lives to advance to the knockout rounds.
Senegal did just that, advancing for the first time in 20 years, while Ecuador fell just short but looks to be a team on the rise in CONMEBOL!
Final Group A Standings
- 1st – Netherlands – 7 pts
- 2nd – Senegal – 6 pts
- 3rd – Ecuador – 4 pts
- 4th – Qatar – 0 pts
World Cup Group B: Wales 0 – 3 England
England and Wales renewed their regional rivalry in a match that was one-sided in terms of suspense and who was going to be able to advance from Group B play. Wales was virtually mathematically eliminated, as they’d need a 5-0 win and a USA win over Iran to advance. England knew they needed a draw to advance and a win to win the Group.
As the game started, it was clear that England was going to be the better team on the day and wouldn’t be upset in a huge way. Wales held their own in the first half but was fading, as the second half began, England took full advantage of that. Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden scored two goals one minute apart to give England a 2-0 lead in the 51st minute.
Rashford would add a second goal to make it 3-0 in the 68th minute. The match was already over with over 20 minutes left to play. England, while shaky for some parts of the group stage, ended up winning Group B on seven points and a plus-seven goal differential. Wales fell short coming in last in the group, getting just one point, scoring one goal, and letting in six.
England is on to the knockout rounds and is set to face Senegal on Sunday afternoon.
World Cup Group B: Iran 0 – 1 USA
Iran vs USA was a match that would see one of the two nations make the knockout rounds! Iran needed a draw or win to make their first-ever knockout round, while the USMNT needed to win for any chance of advancing. The match went how everyone thought it would. The USA had the majority of the possession and looked to beat the low block of Iran without getting hit on the counterattack.
The USA kept peppering the Iranian goal but failed to score. The first half was entering it’s final few minutes and then a goal came. A beautiful bit of soccer from the USA saw a great passing sequence start from their keeper and move upfield. Eventually, Weston McKennie pinged a ball into the Iran box, Sergino Dest headed the ball across the face of the goal, and Christian Pulisic was there to put the chance home.
Pulisic was majorly injured on his goal, but the USA was up 1-0. In the second half. USA switched tactics and sat in. They allowed Iran to push for a tying goal that would see them through. After about 20 minutes of Iran putting in chances on the makeshift USA back five, the game ended 1-0. Iran was knocked out after being so close, and the young and resilient USA team made it back to the knockout stage of the Men’s World Cup.
The USMNT is set to play the first match of the knockout rounds taking on Group A winner the Netherlands on Saturday morning!
Final Group B Standings
- 1st – England – 7 pts
- 2nd – USA – 5 pts
- 3rd – Iran – 3 pts
- 4th – Wales – 1 pt
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Mandatory Credit: Pressinphoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire