Coverage of Group G matches during the 2018
World Cup Finals in Russia between
Host Cities -
Group G Games
Monday, 18th June
Belgium vs Panama
The so-called 'Golden Generation' of Belgium made
hard work of it during the first forty five minutes of their game in
Sochi, against Panama.
Missed chances galore and much of the game played at
Of course Panama set out to stifle Belgium, but a
group of 'talented' individuals means nothing unless they play as a
team; much like a diamond without a ring and a beautiful woman to wear
Belgium 0 -
Two minutes into the second-half and
Belgium got the break they needed. A headed clearance out of the Panama
area and Dries Mertens was in the right spot to wallop it back in; a
dipping volley over Jaime Penedo.
Panama almost caught Belgium sleep-walking, as
Michael Murillo slipped around the back of the defence to get on the end
of a chip forward.
Just when the game looked like it was going
nowhere, in the 69th minute, Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a beautiful
cross for a diving Lukaku to head home and make the scorline look more
Another break for Belgium, in the 75th
minute, De Bruyne and Witsel work the ball to Eden Hazard; who sends
Lukaku through, to lift the ball past Penedo.
positively and unnerved the Tunisian
goalkeeper from the first minute; Delli
Alli's cutback to Jesse Lingard then forcing
the Tunisien to save with his foot.
England attack, the goalkeeper seemed to
injure his shoulder.
A few minutes later and England were queing
up to attack Ashley Young's corner. Stones
powered a header at Mouez Hassen in the
eleventh minute; and Captain Kane was in the
perfect poacher's position, to tap the loose
ball across the white line.
That was the last straw
for the Tunisien goalkeeper. Ben Mustapha
Trying to control the
one goal lead, England were almost caught
out just before the half-hour.
Tunisia seemed to grow
in confidence after holding off England's
attacks and catching England in a stagnant
Then on another Tunisia
forray, Kyle Walker's outstretched arm
caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef in the face;
earning the England defender a yellow card.
Ferjani Sassi took his time with the penalty
in the 35th minute. Then jogged at the ball,
before striking it low and hard past an
outstretched Jordan Pickford.
At the other end, Harry
Kane was rugby tackled in the Tunisian
penalty area but not even a bleep from VAR.
Just before half-time,
Jesse Lingard rounded the goalkeeper only to
see his toe poke come back off the outside
of the post.
England had way too many
chance too be going in at the break level;
but that's football.
Tunisia 1 -
The second-half started
a little slower; the momentum off somewhere
west of south.
Harry Kane again
wrestled to the ground, with nothing given;
Yassine Meriah the scrum-half.
Then around the 68th
minute, England started to liven up.
Sterling off; Rashford on.
Just when it seemed England might have to
settle for a draw, Trippier's corner into
the Tunisian area was headed to the left
by Harry Maguire towards Captain Kane; who
swivelled his header into the back of the
Close call; but it's
Saturday, 23rd June
in Moscow Spartak
Belgium playing in
A foul along the edge of
the Tunisian penalty area - on the quick,
slick Eden Hazard - had to be checked on
VAR. It really was a close call; on the
Eden Hazard took his time and waited for
Farouk Ben Mustapha to move, then slotted
the ball the other way. Cool as you like.
The thiteenth penalty in
twenty-seven games equals the twenty-seven
scored in Brazil 2014; during the whole
No messing. Romelu Lukaku's third goal of
the tournament was scored in the sixteenth
minute, after a great run down the middle to
pick up a beautiful through ball from Dries
Mertens. The donkey is starting to like a
Tunisia pulled one back within two minutes.
Three players ran towards the Belgian goal
as a free-kick was curled in high from the
left; Dylan Brown the one to connect with
Lukaku made it three, just before the break
as Belgium started to show their class. It
could have been five.
Half-time: Belgium 3 -
Just six minutes into the second-half, Eden
Hazard flicked the ball past Ben Mustapha
with his right foot, stumbled slightly, but
regained composure and slammed the ball home
with his left foot.
That's twice the Belgium
captain has outwitted the Tunisian
A Carasco curler in the
62nd minute wasn't far wide.
If England thought they
played well against Tunisia, Belgium have
given them a masterclass in how it should be
done. The chances created are nothing, if
they aren't slotted home.
Having said that,
Belgium should have had six or seven.
Michy Batshuayi made up for his earlier
misses (was it five or six) by sliding in
Belgium's fifth goal in the 90th minute.
Belgium must be fancying
a draw a goal against England to top the
group; if topping the group really means
Wahbi Khazri added a second goal for Tunisia
to reduce the goal difference in stoppage
Seven goals in this game
edges out the six Spain and Portugal scored.
Sunday, 24th June
in Nizhny Novgorod
A hot day in Nizhny
Novgorod for the first ever meeting between
England and Panama.
Jesse Lingard took an
elbow in the face during the opening minutes
of the game. Then Panama skied a couple of
shots on goal, before England could settle.
Kieran Trippier took England's first corner
out on the right, after waiting for the
penalty area wrestling to settle down, and
John Stone broke free in the middle to guide
his header down towards the bottom left
Twenty minutes into the
game, Jesse Lingard hit the floor in the
After the cursory VAR check, and needless
Panama delaying tactics, Harry Kane
converted the spot kick comfortably; despite
having to wait nearly two minutes to take
England played some
slow-it-down football across the back, just
after the half-hour mark, before stepping up
the pace down the left.
A swift one-two with Raheem Sterling, before
Jesse Jingard released a cracker from the
edge of the area; to make it three for
Five minutes before the break, Kieran
Trippier rolled a short free-kick to Joran
Henderson. A few creative moves later,
Stones pounced on a block and headed the
ball in the back of the net. A VAR delay was
required before the goal could be officially
The wrestling on John
Stones and Harry Kane was finally penalised.
Captain Kane was made to wait again, but
took the time to brush his hair back, before
slamming in his second spot kick of the
game; in the same spot.
Spot on, England. The
case could be made for whether teams like
Panama should even be at a World Cup Finals,
yet FIFA want to increase the number even
further in 2020.
England 5 -
The football was reduced
to a walking pace at the start of the
second-half; even going backwards.
As the substitutes were getting ready to
come on, Ruben Loftus-Cheek's shot was
deflected in off the back of Harry Kane's
heel, for England's sixth goal.
That was Kane's last
touch of the game as he joined Jesse
Lingard; while Fabian Delph and Jaimie Vardy
Panama came close to
scoring their first ever World Cup Finals
goal but Jordan Pickford threw himself at
the ball to protect the clean sheet.
Danny Rose on for Kieran
The oldest player in the Panama squad,
Felipe Baloy, slid in a 78th minute
consolation goal to send the Panama fans
Panama even looked for a
Harry Kane came off the
bench to collect his ball, after shaking
everyone's hand and applauding the fans. The
Panama team huddled. They will be looking to
get their first World Cup Finals point
Harry Kane joins Gary
Lineker and Geoff Hurst to claim a World Cup
Final hat-trick for England.
Thursday, 28th June
Big changes for both sides to allow fringe
players to make an impression. England start
on two yellow cards and Belgium three. Some
people may try to kid themselves that the
result is not the priority; of course it is.
Courtois made an early save with his feet,
to cut out Jaimie Vardy's low ball across
Jordan Pickford had to be alert to finger
palm away a stinger from Youri Tielemans in
the seventh minute.
Three minutes later and Gary Cahill had to
scramble the ball off the line for England;
after a poke on the loose ball by Michy
Batshuayi off Pickford.
Youri Tielemans gets the first yellow card
for a foul on Danny Rose, in the 19th minute
(England 2 - Belgium 4).
Belgium were the first to settle themselves
and get whistles from the crowd for passing
the ball around the back.
Then they stepped it up, Batshuayi forcing a
corner and Fellaini a cause for concern as
Trent Alexander-Arnold reacted to clear in
front of his keeper.
Another yellow for Belgium (Leander
Dendoncker makes it 2:5) just after the
England 0 - Belgium 0
Six minutes into the second-half, Adnan
Januzaj dummied and shimmied on the right of
the England penalty area to fire a terrific
left-foot shot past an oustretched Jordan
Markus Rashford was through in the 67th
minute and should have done better than let
Thibaut Courtois close him down and edge the
ball out for a corner.
Pickford punched away a Dries Mertens strike
in the 90th minute.
Whatever England really wanted out of this,
Belgium wanted it more and got the better
out of them. Not as bad as Denmark vs France
but still a disappointment for fans of first
Tunisia may be going home but Fakhreddine
Ben Youssef scored the 2,500th World Cup
goal in Saransk.
Monday, 2nd July
Belgium vs Japan
Belgium had to defend deep as Japan asked
the questions early on; moving the ball well
and showing some good, direct running.
It took the Europeans over twenty minutes
before they started to apply some pressure
in and around the Japan goal area.
But it was still Japan who showed the most
Then just before half-time, Thibaut Courtois
let the ball slip through his legs and had
to dive on it to prevent an embarrassing
moment; as the ball rolled towards his goal
Half-time: Belgium 0 - Japan 0
Three minutes into the second-half and a
Japan counter stunned Belgium; as Genki
Haraguchi sped down the right, shimmied to
unbalance the defender and sent the ball
across Thibaut Courtois.
Eden Hazard hit the post in reply but then
Japan were on the break again.
Kagawa laid off an innocent looking pass to
Takeshi Inui, who struck the ball with such
directness there was never any doubt where
it was going.
Japan continued with their game plan by
pushing on for a third goal.
Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini were
brought on for Belgium to steady the ship
and, more importantly, get it buoyant again.
Eiji Kawashima was starting to look a little
suspect as Belgium played the ball high;
unconvincing with a punched clearance.
The danger seemed to have passed but Jan
Vertonghen headed a looping ball towards the
goal; and past Kawashima.
Substitute Marouane Fellaini pulled the game
back for Belgium, heading in Eden Hazard's
curling cross, with sixteen minutes left to
Again Japan pushed forward, looking for
their third goal; Vincent Kompany on hand to
save Belgium's blushes.
Continuing in the end-to-end entertainment,
Kawashima kept out Chadli and then Romelu
Lukaku; for a Belgium corner.
Then Kawashima had to get down to keep out a
long-range drive from Jan Vertonghen.
Nacer Chadli tried to run into the area in
the last minute of the ninety.
Then Courtois had to get down at the post to
keep out an own goal.
One last chance for Keisuke Honda, but it
was Belgium who mastered the counter attack
in the fourth minute of stoppage time, for
second substitute Nacer Chadli to finish off
the most desperate of moves forward; after a
franctic run and final dummy by Lukaku.
Tuesday, 3rd July
Colombia vs England
The winner of this game knew they would face
Sweden in the
quarter-final, but first they had to win.
Plenty of passing football from both sides early on; forward moving,
rather than side to side.
Ashley Young's sixth minute free-kick, from the left edge of the penalty
area, was fisted away by David Ospina.
Ten minutes later, Kieran Trippier and Jesse Lingard combined on the
right; but Harry Kane struggled to head Trippier's cross back towards
Then in the twenty-third minute Colombia made a probing run through
Juans Cuadrado and Quintero; after Harry Kane lost the ball on the left.
England may have looked the better side for most of the first half-hour,
but still had nothing to show for it; no real chances, except for the
sixth minute free-kick.
Then Harry Kane earned a free-kick on the edge of the area, seven
minutes before the break.
As Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young stood over the ball, theatrics in
the penalty area delayed the kick; while the American referee listened
to commentary in his earpiece and produced a yellow card for Colombia's
Wilmar Barrios head into Jordan Henderson's chest.
Unfortunately, the referee didn't review the event on the monitor or it
might have been a red for violent conduct; as the head to the chest
actually followed up to Henderson's head.
Then Raheem Sterling and Yeri Mina tussled for ownership of a pair of
shorts, as frustration started to creep in.
Half-time: Colombia 0 - England 0
England needed to wisen up.
Then, in the 54th minute, it happened. Four England players lined up
together for a corner into the area. Carlos Sanchez tried to stick close
to Harry Kane, but it was too close.
As Harry swung off the back of the line around to the rear post, Sanchez
was trying to get a piggy back ride and eventually they were both on the
A penalty was awarded and Colombia continued the theatrics with a
time-wasting protest to try and put Harry Kane off. Captain Kane held on
to the ball and walked away from it all.
Then the Arsenal goalkeeper came up to the
Tottenham striker with a final word. Whatever it was, Kane took a deep
breath and waited. Then stepped back.... and waited. Another breath and
a short run; to bang the ball straight down the middle. The last word
The game was spiralling out of control and verged on a farce for a
Yellow Cards: Colombia 5 - England 2 (70 minutes played).
With fifteen minutes to go, the game livened up again. Colombia needed
an equaliser and England could do with a second goal cushion.
Both teams wanted it and the fans loved it.
With ten minutes to go, Eric Dier came on for Dele Alli. Alli took his
time to leave; applauding and shaking hands like everyone else tends to,
as the clock runs down. The young lions are learning.
Then Cuadrado fired over with Colombia's best chance of the game, after
Kylie Walker's mistake let the South Americans through.
Jordan Pickford earned his colours in the 93rd minute with a brilliant
From the corner, Yerry Mina rose high to
head the ball down and watch it bounce in, over Kieran Trippier on the
line and under the bar.
Thirty Minutes of Extra-Time.
Now the real test.
Colombia started better in the first periof
of extra-time; England still stunned.
Then England tried to gain a little control;
although it looked a little half-hearted.
Danny Rose and Eric Dier came close to
giving England what they needed in the
second period of extra-time.
The Dreaded Penalties.
Nerves? You bet. After Jordan Henderson's
penalty was saved by Ospina, it seemed like
England were going down the same road.
Then Mateus Uribe hit the crossbar and
England were back in it.
Jordan Pickford knew it was down to him and
didn't bottle it; diving off his line and
lifting his left arm up to save from Carlos
Eric Dier stepped up to take the last of the
regular five penalties; Spurs vs Arsenal;
bottom left; sorted.
England won a penalty shoot out at the World
Cup Finals for the first time ever. One back
for Gareth Southgate's saved penalty horror
at Wembley back in Euro 96.
Friday, 6th July
in Kazan (1:2)
Three corners in twelve minutes, but it was
Belgium who made theirs count; albeit fortune shined brightly, as the
luckless Fernandinho nudged the ball into his own net. Thiago Silva
hitting the post from Neymar's corner, now long forgotten.
If the first goal was lucky, Belgium's
second was far from it. Romelu Lukaku made a powerful run through the
middle and had the vision to see Kevin de Bruyne free on the right; who
finished with a bullet of a shot. Phillippe Coutinho tried to get back
but was never really close.
Thibaut Courtois then made a couple of great saves to keep Brazil at
Half-time: Brazil 0 - Belgium 2
Neymar theatrics continued but the referee wasn't impressed. Neymar
wasn't impressed with the referee either.
Courtois saved Belgium again, with fifteen minutes to go.
Less than a minute later, Courtois was
picking the ball out of the net; as Renato Augusto headed in Philippe
Coutinho's lofted pass forward.
Belgium started to show signs of tiredness, which is not surprising
considering the amount of effort they put it today; and against Japan.
Coutinho missed a great chance to level for Brazil, with six minutes to
go, after the ball was rolled to him by Neymar.
Then Courtois tipped a Neymar curler over the bar, in the 94th minute,
to send the last non-European team home.
Saturday, 7th July
in Samara (0:2)
After a slow (quietly
confident or nervously cautious) start for a
place in the semi-finals Viktor Claesson
finally had sight of goal, in the thirteenth
minute, and fired a shot high; above Jordan
Pickford and the England goal.
One of the least
exciting starts to a match at the 2018 World
Cup Finals; except perhaps for the Denmark
vs France Group Game.
In the nineteenth
minute, England showed a little more
initiative; Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane
combining swiftly, but the captain dragged
the ball wide.
A goal from open play
didn't look on the cards, so it was handy
when a ball that seemed to be going nowhere
was edged out for a corner.
Harry Maguire rose high to meet Ashley
Young's corner from the left, to give
England an unexpected lead; although that it
came from a set piece and header was far
Just before half-time
Kieran Trippier presented Raheem Sterling
with a golden opportunity to extend
Sterling had another
chance, delivered from Jordan Henderson, but
took too long on the ball and the flickering
flame was snuffed out again.
Half-time: Sweden 0 -
Sweden started more
positively in the second half; Jordan
Pickford palming away Marcus Berg's header
to keep it Advantage England.
A little sustained pressure from the boys in
red and the ball was in the back of the net;
Dele Alli at the back post heading in a
cross from Jesse Lingard.
Pickford and Henderson
then doubled up for a save and block in the
62nd minute, as Sweden prepared their
Another top drawer save
by Jordan Pickford, in the 72nd minute, with
a flick over the bar. It was about this time
in the game that Belgium came back from two
goals down to beat Japan by three goals to
two; but Sweden are not Belgium.
England made it to their
first World Cup semi-final since Italia 90;
when Jordan Pickford wasn't even born.
Tuesday, 10th July
France vs Belgium
Belgium are still in the
2018 World Cup and will play again in St
Petersburg; for third place.
Wednesday, 11th July
England can't complain;
they had plenty of time to make a place in
the Final theirs.
Saturday, 14th July
Belgium vs England
Please take a moment to like us on Facebook and share with your
friends on social media.