Russia saw another football surprise when the first red card of the tournament came less than three minutes into the sixth day in the game between eccentric Colombia and the ever-efficient Japan.
Carlos Sanchez’s deliberate handball allowed Shinji Kagawa to step up to the spot and slot the ball home to give Japan the lead. Even with 10 men, Colombia still controlled much of the first half. They were fast, strong, crafty and committed.
Radamel Falcao earned a free kick shortly before halftime, and Juan Quintera ignited Colombian passions by driving a low shot under the wall and squeezed over the Japanese goal line making it 1–1.
Japan came out after the break with more tactical rigidity, making their advantage count.
The second goal came in the unlikely form of Yuya Osako who outjumped his taller opponents in a corner kick, directing his 73rd-minute header in off the far post to give Japan a 2–1 win.
— carol îmwe (@carxlinv) ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 19, 2018
The Senegal team was Africa’s last hope for a first-round win as there are many experienced players from Europe’s biggest leagues when they took on an unpredictable Poland.
Senegal started the brightest and continued to dominate, eventually being rewarded with a goal credited to Poland defender Thiago Cionek. It will go down as an own goal but it came from a flowing Senegalese team move that resulted in Idrissa Gueye’s shot being deflected past a stranded Polish goalkeeper by his own defender, Cionek.
Senegal continued their dominance in the second half, extending their lead in the 60th minute. M’Baye Niang pounced on a careless back pass, splitting a Poland defender and the keeper before tapping into an empty net. Africa was alive!
Poland kept it interesting with an 86th-minute header from Gregorz Krychowiak but Senegal never stumbled and walked away with a 2–1 win.
Completing the days’ action and getting Round 2 underway, hosts Russia played Egypt.
A goalless first half was followed by an eventful second. Shortly after halftime, a freak Ahmed Fathi own goal gave Russia the lead. Their two quick-fire goals in the 59th and 62nd minutes by Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba respectively all but finished The Pharaohs off.
Mohamed Salah picked up a hollow consolation with a penalty in the 73rd minute for
The Pharaohs to walk away with a 3–1 loss to the hosts.
Should Saudi Arabia not beat Uruguay tomorrow then, sadly, the Egyptians will be doomed to elimination – with a game still to go.
All teams have got their first games out of the way. Everyone has shaken off their nerves and will now look to keep building towards the knockout rounds. Keep following on …