Group Stage Done, World Cup Day 15 Recap

Two more teams punched their tickets to the knockout stage with some wild and unexpected moments.

Poland Tops Japan, 1-0

Japan lost to Poland 1-0 in its final match of the group stage, but thanks to Colombia’s 1-0 win over Senegal and an uncommon World Cup tiebreaker rule, the Blue Samurai are through to the round of 16 as Group H’s runner-up over the African nation.

In a crazy, unforeseen tiebreaker, Japan finished with four points just like Senegal. And because they had the same amount of points, goal differential, goals scored, goals conceded and drew each other, the tiebreaker went to FIFA Fair Play points, which means the team with the fewer infractions advances. Japan received two fewer yellow cards (four) in the group stage, while Senegal had six yellow cards. As a result, Senegal heads home and Japan survives to play at least another game. Jan Bednarek scored the lone goal for Poland as they end the tournament with three points and a consolation win over Japan.

Colombia Defeats Senegal, 1-0

Colombia is through to the World Cup round of 16 while Senegal has been eliminated because of a harsh yellow card tiebreaker. The South Americans, behind a goal from Yerry Mina, defeated Senegal 1-0 to claim the top spot in Group H with six points, and Japan goes through as runner-up over Senegal for having less yellow cards. Japan and Senegal finished tied on nearly every tiebreaker, so things had to be decided based on FIFA Fair Play points. Neither team had red cards, while Japan had four yellow cards as opposed to Senegal’s six, meaning the Samurai Blue edges out the Lions of Teranga.

It was a fine defensive performance from Colombia, which was quick to get rid of the ball at the back, but it wasn’t all positive. James Rodriguez, arguably the star of the team and winner of the best young player award of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, was taken off in the first half with a suspected injury, so we’ll have to see how he progresses before playing Belgium or England in the next round.

Belgium Beats England, 1-0

Belgium has won Group G at the World Cup after defeating England 1-0 on a lovely goal from Adnan Januzaj. The former Manchester United winger scored the winner early in the second half with a lovely skill move and finish, as the Red Devils remained perfect with nine points from three matches.

In a match that neither seemed eager to win with the loser finishing on the easier side of the bracket in the knockout stage, there were chances to be taken but clinical finishing was off for both. But Januzaj, a forgotten and fallen young star now at Real Sociedad was the difference with one of the finest goals we’ve seen at the cup. England had 13 shots in the match but just one on target. Belgium had 53 percent possession and 15 shots, four of which went on frame.

Tunisia Tops Panama, 2-1

For the second time in its history and first since 1978, Tunisia has won a match at the World Cup. The Tunisians beat Panama 2-1 on Thursday on the final day of group stage action, leaving the Central Americans still searching for their first ever win in the competition.

Panama went up 33 minutes in on an own goal from Yassine Meriah, but Tunisia rallied back with two goals in 15 minutes to complete the comeback. A big moment for Tunisia in its history. The second taste of victory in the cup and first for its players, and it’s something they will never forget. However, just like the other four teams from the Confederation of African Football, Tunisia is out in the group stage. As for Panama, they enjoyed the ride, and they’ll hope to be back come 2022 after suffering a -9 goal differential in three matches, the worst of any country at this year’s tournament.

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