A shock to finish it ! For this last day of the group stage, England and Belgium were crossing the line at Kaliningrad Stadium. The objective was simple for both teams : to win and finish first in group G. in an attempt to win, Gareth Southgate carried out a large review of his squad, changing no less than eight players, since only Pickford, Stones and Loftus-Cheek retained their place in the starting eleven. On the Belgian side, Roberto Martinez did the same with nine turnovers. Courteous kept his place in the cages by taking the Captain’s Armband, while Boyata was always present in defence. Despite these replacements, both teams had no intention of making it through the game.
After only a few moments, Courtois already had to distinguish himself by coming out a strong center of Vardy (2nd). If the Belgian doorman was already vigilant, his British counterpart was also brilliant. On a distant shot from Tielemans, Pickford in turn worked hard (6th). Opportunities were plentiful on each side and Belgium was close to opening the scoring. Draft on a handover of Fellaini’s head, courteous was surprised by Batshuayi. The player of the Borussia Dortmund pushed the ball as hard as he could towards the goal but Cahill took charge of saving the Three Lions on his line (10th). The English answer came quickly, since Vardy, again, was close to the British figure by a good whim (14′). Already in sight of the biggest opportunity, Batshuayi returned to the English surface to arm a shot that Stones repulsed in corner (27′), an action also carried out by Fellaini, countered by Alexander-Arnold (28′). For his part, Thorgan Hazard, Eden’s brother, was missing his coiled strike (38′).
Adnan Januzaj had fun with Danny Rose
Gareth Southgate was making a defensive change at the break to bring in new blood, with Maguire taking the Place of Stones. Invisible in the first act, Rashford turned on the first fuse in the second act, but his shot ran away from the frame (48′). Finally, the Red Devils opened the scoring just after. Served to the right of the surface, Januzaj had fun with Rose before putting a magnificent shot rolled from the left into the skylight of a powerless Pickford (51′, 0-1). Stung to the bone, the Three Lions tried to return quickly. Launched into the depth by Vardy, Rashford faced courteous but Manchester United’s forward opened his foot too wide and missed the equaliser (66′).
The pace of the encounter then declined considerably. Already close to the equalizer, Rashford once again missed the frame on a direct free-kick (81′). Fellaini then took charge of saving Belgium on an attempt by Welbeck, who would finish at the bottom (83′). Mertens offered a new scare to the public at Kaliningrad Stadium but Pickford was present to repel (88′). Fellaini, decisive in the defence, then found the small outer net for the last attempt of the match (90 ‘ +2). The Red Devils will challenge Japan on Monday night (8pm), while England will face Colombia (Tuesday, 8pm).
Wahbi Khazri releases the Eagles of Carthage
For this last day of group G, Panama and Tunisia were competing for the honor. Already eliminated before the kick-off, both teams wanted to leave the World Cup with their heads held high. The Eagles of Carthage leaned on a 4-3-3 and Nabil Maâloul made six changes in his typical team and started Naim Sliti again. Logically, the Tunisian side obtained possession of the ball at the start of the match. We had to wait until the 19th minute to see the first Tunisian opportunity. Shifted to the right, Khazri laid an excellent center on Bedoui’s head that did not worry Penedo. But against all odds, Panama opened the scoring with its first shot on goal. Shifted to the edge of the surface, Rodriguez hit a deflected shot by Meriah who cheated on Mathlouthi (1-0.33′).
Just before the break, Haddadi was distilling a good Center in the area deviated from the head by Ben Youssef but it was passing right by (39′). A few seconds before the break, Wahbi Khazri in the area saw his shot deflected by a well-inspired Penedo (45′). On the way back from the locker room, the Eagles of Carthage were putting the clocks back on time. Shifted to the right of the surface by Sliti, Khazri distilled an excellent center at the penalty point for Ben Youssef who catapulted the leather to the bottom of the nets (1-1, 51′). The men of Nabil Maâloul were outspoken and rewarded. Following a superb move initiated by Badri, Haddadi found himself in the area and shifted onto a khazri board which had only to push the ball in the goals kept by Penedo (2-1, 66’). At the end of the game, Panama was pushing to equalise but couldn’t find the loophole. Thanks to this narrow success, Tunisia was finishing its World Cup on a high note.