2018 FIFA World Cup: Days 12 & 13 Round-up

The ball hits the back of the net as Argentina's Lionel Messi scores their first goal. REUTERS/Henry Romero

After a thrilling two days of final group games from the first four groups, catch up with all of the action in our bumper round-up. 

Monday saw Uruguay battle Russia for top spot in Group A whilst Iran, Portugal and Spain battled for the two qualification spots in Group B

Yesterday saw Group C in action but there is no better place to start than Group D, where Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria battled for the last qualification spot alongside Croatia. 


Day 13

Group D 

World Cup - Group D - Nigeria vs Argentina
Argentina pulled off a stunning victory to make it through. (Reuters)

Argentina produced an epic 2-1 win over Nigeria with another late Marcos Rojo winner to escape the jaws of heartbreak. 

Lionel Messi and Co knew that anything less than victory would send them home and came out fighting, with the Barcelona star putting them in front in 14th minute. 

Latching onto a long cross from Ever Banega, Messi fired into the left corner to light up the hopes of all Argentineans and maintained that lead until the break.

Nigeria came back out knowing that they just needed a goal and they would be through. They soon found that goal when Javier Mascherano was yellow carded for holding during a corner and Referee, Cuneyt Cakir pointed to the spot. 

Chelsea’s Victor Moses stepped up to roll it down the middle past Argentina debutant, Franco Armani to level things up. 

Both teams then had chances to win it with Odion Ighalo shooting wide in 75th minute from a Mascherano clearance. He and John-Obi Mikel claimed penalty so Cakir consulted VAR and decided there was no case to answer. 

These teams met at 2014 tournament exactly four years and one day ago when Argentina won 3-2 and up stepped Rojo to repeat his winner to send the Argentineans through to the last 16. 

Picking up a Gabriel Mercado cross, he side footed it into bottom right to trigger mass celebrations from Argentinean fans, including Diego Maradona. 

Eventually that goal was enough after Iceland lost 2-1 to Croatia which ended their qualification hopes. 

Zlatko Dalic made nine changes with only Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric keeping their places in the line-up. 

Milan Badej gave Croatia the lead with a powered shot bouncing in off the ground in 53rd minute. 

Iceland then equalised through a Glyfi Sigurdsson penalty after Dejan Lovren handballed in box with 15 minutes left. 

Perisic then won it for Croatia in the 90th minute after firing a shot past Hannes Halldorsson. 

The results mean that Croatia are through as group winners from Argentina whilst Nigeria finished third ahead of Iceland. 

Croatia will meet Denmark next whilst Argentina face the tough task of France. 


Group C

World Cup - Group C - Denmark vs France
Denmark join France in the last 16 despite playing out a 0-0. (Reuters)

Denmark clinched their last 16 place after a 0-0 draw with France, having needed a point regardless of what Australia did. 

In what was a boring match, France carved out the best chance when sub, Nabil Fekir had a curler from edge of box punched away by Kasper Schmeichel in 82nd minute. 

Over in the other game, Peru stunned Australia to take a 2-0 win with goals from Andre Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero. 

Australia needed to win and hope that Denmark lost if they were to qualify but fell behind after 18 minutes when Carrillo volleyed a cross into bottom left past a helpless Matthew Ryan. 

Shortly after break. Guerrero swivelled his way into box before shooting home to effectively finish off the match and The Aussies’ hopes. 

The results mean that France top Group D from Denmark and will face Argentina on Saturday whilst the Danes meet Croatia in an all European tie on Sunday. 

Peru finished third ahead of Australia. 

Day 12

Group B

World Cup - Group B - Iran vs Portugal
Alireza Beiranvand saves Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. (Reuters)

Portugal and Spain secured their passage to the last 16 despite dramatic draws as Group B finished with everyone having scored at least a point. 

With Spain expected to go through, the action was centred on Portugal who needed to avoid defeat against Iran to go through.

The match was quite open with Portugal seizing the initiative right on half time when Ricardo Quaresma curled into top left hand corner.

After the break, Cristiano Ronaldo soon earned Portugal a controversial penalty after being fouled by Saeid Ezatolahi despite looking like a dive. 

Justice was quickly served when Alireza Beiranvand saved the spot kick to his right during 52nd minute. 

Iran then had a chance to equalise twenty minutes later when Saman Ghoddos fired just wide from outside the box after coming on just minutes earlier. 

Despite knowing that they were heading home, Iran still plugged away and got their reward when Sardar Azmoun headed a cross downwards onto Cedric’s arm. Referee, Enrique Caceres used VAR and adjudged it to be handball and awarded penalty, much to fury of pundits and fans. 

Up stepped Karim Ansarifard to put his penalty past a powerless Rui Patricio into top right. 

In end, it finished 1-1 and enough for Portugal to go through as runners up despite Spain’s game having its own controversial VAR moment. 

Khalid Boutaib took advantage of an early mix up to slot past David de Gea in 14th minute, before Spain soon restored parity after Isco rifled home Andreas Iniesta’s pass from close range. 

Morocco then set up a grandstand finish after Youssef En Nesyri smashed in a corner kick to make put the already eliminated side ahead with nine minutes left. 

Dani Carvajal then set up Spain’s equaliser in the 91st minute, when got down Morocco’s left before finding Iago Aspas, who flicked in a low cross.

Referee, Ravshan Irmatov then initially ruled it out for offside before then changing his mind after consulting with VAR. 

The change of mind means that Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco and go through as group winners, having scored six goals to Portugal’s five. 

As a result, La Roja will meet the hosts – Russia in last 16 whilst Portugal face Uruguay. 


Group A 

Embed from Getty Images

Uruguay saw off Russia in a comfortable 2-0 win to top Group A and will meet Portugal on Saturday evening in the last 16. 

Luis Suarez opened the scoring in 10th minute when he rifled home past a disappearing wall into bottom right hand corner from a free kick. 

Their second also came from a free kick cleared out for a corner. The delivery found Diego Laxalt at back post and Cheryshev deflected his shot in. 

In end, those two first half goals were enough despite a red card for Russia’s Igor Smolnikov after tackling Cristhian Stuani. 

In the last 16, Uruguay will meet Portugal whilst Russia face Spain. 

In the other Group A match, Saudi Arabia came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 with a late winner from Salem Al-Dawsari. 

Mohamed Salah had put Egypt in front after 22 minutes with a chipped cross over Yasser Al Mosailem. 

Saudi Arabia then had two penalties before the first half was finished, against Egypt’s Essam El Hadary who became the oldest goalkeeper at 45 years old to play a World Cup match. 

Fahad Al Muwallad took the first penalty down the middle but El Hadary punched it onto bar but couldn’t keep their second out in first half stoppage time. 

Ali Gabr brought down Al Muwallad in box and up stepped Salmon Al Faraj to slot it into bottom left to leave things level at break. 

They eventually won it and third place in the group after Al Dawsari tucked in a tight chip to hand victory to the Green Falcons. 

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