12' (COL) J. Izquierdo Y. Chara
23' (BRA) Willian
90' (BRA) T. Silva
MOTM (BRA) T. Silva 9.3
The opening game of this 2018 World Cup may have not only set the standard expected for all games in Group B of the Americas, but possibly for the entire tournament. Colombia struck early with a set play that got Izquierdo wide open only 9 meters from the keeper. Brazil quickly equalized with poached goal by Willian. Coutinho headed the expert cross by Neymar directly into the post, but the ball ricocheted to Willian's foot and the keeper was already off balance. After that, it was a tug of war mostly in midfield. Both teams had opportunities but neither could capitalize. Finally, at practically the end of stoppage time, Brazil won a corner. The ball was headed out by the defense, but the ball went to Thiago Silva, and the unlikely of heros deftly placed a 1 hopper into the bottom left post and into the net from about 18 meters out. With Group B in the Americas potentially having the most parity(except for maybe Group B in Africa), we fully expect that the remainder of these matches will all have the same energy.
Switzerland 0 - 1 Croatia
(CRO) L. Modrić Š. Vrsaljko
CS- (CRO) D. Subašić
MotM- Š. Vrsaljko (9.1)
A pretty evenly played match that could have gone either way. Luka Modrić put away a cross in the 42nd minute to give Croatia a one goal lead. Switzerland had opportunities to tie the match, including an excellent strike right before the final whistle, but were unable to find the back of the net. Croatia gets a big win to kick off play in Europe's Group B.
Switzerland 1-1 Germany
B. Embolo X. Shaqiri
T. Müller J. Brandt
MotM - X. Shaqiri (9.0)
The clash between Germany and Switzerland was another strong start to this World Cup. The first half saw plenty of wing play with chances for both sides, but neither being able to find the back of the net. The second half kicked off the same as the first until the 70th minute when the Swiss finally broke through the German defense and scored. The dreams of the Swiss fans in attendance were crushed when German boss Dave subbed on Julian Brandt who provided a crossed assist to Thomas Müller in the 89th minute to seal a 1-1 draw.
Mexico 1 - 1 Uruguay
6' J. dos Santos C. Vela
60' E. Cavani M. Vecino
MotM - J. dos Santos (8.9)
It was a dream start for Mexico as J. dos Santos dove to narrowly push C. Vela's cross past F. Muslera in the 6th minute. Uruguay took no time putting pressure on G. Ochoa as he was able to come out on top in a 1 on 1 with E. Cavani in the 13th minute. Uruguay dominated the chances coming out of half and were rewarded after earning a free kick in the 60th minute. M. Vecino's short kick to the edge of the area was met by E. Cavani who sent a looping header past Ochoa and off the post draw the match level. Mexico seemed to be on their heels as Uruguay controlled possession and chances as the game came to a close, but we're able to hold on for the draw.
M. Salah (5') A. Elmohamady N. Amrabat (19')
H. Ziyech (53') S. Boufal Trezeguet (90') Kahraba
A. Elmohamady (9.2)
Egypt struck early with a cross finding Mohamed Salah alone in the middle of the box, but Amrabat leveled it up after a favorable deflection set him up in front of the net just 14 minutes later. Ziyech's missile in the 53' gave Morocco the lead at 2-1, and it looked like the side that had controlled most of the match was going to emerge with the victory. However, right before the final whistle, Egypt strung together one last gasp attack, as Kahraba raced down the left sideline, sent in a cross finding Trezeguet on the other end who headed home the goal to draw level and salvage a point for the Egyptians.
Korea Republic 4 - 3 Nigeria
K. Ja Cheol L. Chang Min
K. Shin Wook L. Chang Min
L. Jae Sung H. Son
K. Ja Cheol H. Son V. Moses M. Simon
K. Ja Cheol
A thrilling seven goal contest ends in a 4-3 win for the Koreans. Koo Ja Cheol scored his second half of his brace on the evening in the 83rd to give the Koreans the full 3 points after a Heung Min Son cross left him a tap in. Nigeria jumped out to a 2 goal lead lead by a Victor Moses screamer of a free kick. They couldn't hold on however as the Koreans were able to storm back from the 2-0 half time deficit.
Iran 1 - 1 Korea Republic
Korea: Lee Jae Sung
Iran: E. Haji Safi S. Azmoun
Korea: H. Son
Iran: E. Haji Safi
This game was a defensive battle throughout, while both teams were able to generate quality scoring chances, shots were either just wide of the goal, or both keepers were making big saves. Iran took the lead in the 38th minute when Haji Safi got himself away from the defender and launched a shot that got by a diving Bo Sang Yoon (I think?). The lead was short lived as just 4 minutes later, Son had a rebound bounce right to his feet for the easy tap in. The rest of the game played out with both defenses shutting down the opposing attack as it ended in the 1-1 draw.
Alexandr "Silver Fox" Samedov's brace powers the Russians to an opening day qualification victory
Russia: A. Samedov (27') I. Smolnikov
Germany: T. Kroos (39') M. Reus
Russia: A. Dzyuba (45') A. Dzagoev
Russia: A. Samedov (81')
Russia: A. Dzagoev (90') I. Smolnikov
Russia: A. Dzagoev
Russia hosted Germany this evening as the hosts, and defending holders of the World Cup, looked to kickoff their qualification with a win. Germany came into this game after snatching a dramatic draw against Switzerland in their first match. The match started off slow, with both sides feeling each other out before a wonder strike in the 27th minute by Samedov smacked the inside of the post and went in, leaving Neuer with no chance. Russia would then hit the post off a Dzyuba volley, before Germany immediately attacked and got their equalizer, as Kroos' smart finish above Akinfeev silenced the partisan crowd. As halftime drew near Dzagoev was able to find Dzyuba with an inch perfect pass, and the big man made no mistake giving the Russians the 2-1 lead into halftime. The second half, for the most part, was a quiet affair, before Russia were able to add two more goals in the last 9 minutes to make the score look better than it should. First, Samedov collected his brace as a Smolov shot was parried into his path and he made no mistake slotting it into an empty net. Then, with perhaps the best move of the match, a back-heel by Kokorin was taken in stride by Smolnikov who, already having an assist to his name, was able to add another as his pass into the box was finished off by a one time shot by eventual man of the match Dzagoev. Russia now look forward to facing Croatia later this evening in a battle between two sides on maximum points after one match each.
Russia: A. Samedov (22')
Russia: A. Samedov (30') D. Cheryshev
Russia: A. Kokorin (77') A. Dzagoev
Russia: D. Lovren OG (89')
CS: I. Akinfeev
In a matchup between two teams on maximum points after one game, it was the visiting Russians who were able to claim all 3 points vs the Croatians. The scoring started off a fluke goal where a missed clearance bounced off Samedov and the keeper, with Samedov slotting into the empty net on the rebound. Samedov would score his second, and fourth of qualifying, off a header from a delightful 1-3 played across the area from the left hand side. Kokorin would add a third as he found himself in acres of space with Croatia pressing for goals, while Chreyshev's deflected shot off Lovren fooled the keeper and left the Liverpool center back with hands on head as he was awarded the own goal. Samedov continues to be quite a surprise for the Russians as his runs from midfield have already showed that he can be a force through on goal, while the forwards continue to put in mediocre performances that must be fixed if this team is to really compete against the best of the best. Russia will round up their first half of qualifying with a home game against Switzerland tomorrow.
Netherlands 3 - 0 England K. Walker 16' M. Depay 45' Q. Promes V. Janssen 90' S. Berghuis
J. Henderson M. Depay J. Cillessen Q. Promes
Both teams opened up play with Netherlands getting the 3 points. Early on they went ahead from a rather harshly ruled own goal by Kyle Walker, as Ryan Babel's shot powered past the keeper and looked to be on its way in before Walker's attempted intervention. Netherlands got themselves a cushion just before halftime when Quincy Promes dribbled into the box from the wing and found a wide open Memphis Depay who slotted home. The second half saw England gain some momentum, and ramp up pressure on Netherlands goal, with Cillessen making 1-2 nice saves to keep his team ahead by 2. Netherlands didn't have many clear chances throughout the half but were relatively stable, and Janssen scored on a counter in stoppage time to finish it.
A midfield cluster of turnovers and poor passing haunted both Mexico and USA leading to a lack of clear cut chances. The US saw their best chances squandered in the first half as J. Brooks headed just barely over in the 16th minute and F. Johnson rattled the post in the 43rd minute. Mexico saw a their best chances thwarted by T. Howard when he saved a soft Moreno header and an acrobatic catch to rob G. Dos Santos at the death.
25' (PER) E. Flores J. Farfan
41' (BRA) Willian Neymar
72' (BRA) P. Coutinho Neymar
MOTM (BRA) Miranda 9.3
And in the 2nd match in the B group of the Americas, the fans were treated with another hotly contested contest. Peru raced out to the early lead with a quick goal from Flores as the defense for Brazil fell apart, leaving him with an uncontested shot on goal. However, the Brazilians were able to build up an attack, and with some great touch passing, Neymar set up Willian with the rocket shot to equalize.
The game continued a feverish pace, until Neymar was able to break away down the wing and floated a soft lob in to Coutinho, who's initial shot was deflected by the keeper, but Coutinho had the presence of mind to stay with the play, and was able to put the rebound home. The Peruvians pressured the rest of the match, but could not get another clean shot on goal, thanks to the MOTM, Miranda, the team's best CB.
This was a much needed 3 points as the Brazilians still have to play in Peru, in Colombia and still have a home and home vs Chile, another dangerous team. If the Brazilians don't get at least 4-6 more points, these 2 early wins could mean nothing.
This was an interesting contest in Group D for Europe between a strong dutch side and a gritty welsh team, fronted by Gareth Bale. The dutch started out strong with an early goal from Ryan Babel. Wales recovered quickly through a nice counter attack and a cool finish from Bale. The remainder of the first half saw chances on both ends as Wales looked deadly on corners coming close twice, and Depay hitting the post before half. The breakthrough came in the 78th minute as Bale did some nice work outside the box to whip a cross in to find Ramsey at the back post. After close review the refs determined it was an own goal, as the challenging Vilhena apparently deflected it in. The killing blow came in the 87th after the dutch were pressing for a tying goal, Wales won the ball back and struck again on a counter. This time it was King finding the back of the net .
6' M. Salah A. Hassan
25' M. Elneny
37' G. Gonul
E. El Hadary
Egypt escape rivals Turkey with much needed three points in 2nd game of Qualification
In what can be seen as the weaker qualification group in Africa/Asia, any win is crucial on the road to the World Cup. A game that had to be painful to watch for both groups of supporters as the passing and finishing from both teams was nowhere near where it needed to be for a deep run. The only joy came early on when Moh Salah parted the Turkish defense like the Red Sea and easily slotted the game winner. Manager Hckyjck will look for the passing to improve through the qualification phase saying "the team has just come together after a grueling club campaign. They will improve and begin to gel more as the games progress." Just two games in, this win vaults them into first place in the group. A big game against yet untested Japan in the 3rd matchweek will say a lot about this group and where this Egyptian side hopes to be come the end of qualification.