Russia 2018: The World Cup of Penalties

Match day 5 treated us to two more penalties, courtesy of England and South Korea. So far we have had 8 penalties awarded at this year’s tournament, with coming after VAR review. 2 have been missed by Messi (Argentina) and Cueva (Peru). The rest were all scored.

Tunisia and Sweden were the beneficiaries of a couple of penalties today. Let’s take a look at match day 5’s events.

Kane Saves the Day

England needed a 91st minute goal from captain Harry Kane to beat Tunisia. Southgate’s men took the lead in the 11th minute but Tunisia came back in the game with a goal from the penalty spot, after Kyle Walker strangely swung an arm at Ben Youssef in the box. England kept pushing till the last minute and finally got the job done when Kane was at the end of a Harry Maguire header on a corner in the dying moments of the game. England should have won this game easily but instead the profligacy of Lingard and Sterling almost cost them.

The 3-5-2 employed by Gareth Southgate meant Vardy, Welbeck and Rashford had to settle for a place on the bench. All three boast great pace, which could have helped unsettle the Tunisian defence but Southgate kept them in reserve. Rashford buzzed about with good intentions as soon as he came in but his overeagerness got the better of him from time to time. Vardy and Welbeck did not see any game time as Southgate opted for Ruben Loftus-Cheek instead.

In the end, England had to depend on their captain to get them out of this mess and boy did he deliver!

Romelu Lukaku on Fire!

Speaking of prolific Premier League strikers, Romelu Lukaku was also at the double in Group G. After Mertens showed brilliant technique to volley the ball in the net, Lukaku added two goals in 6 minutes to kill the game, already matching his 2 goals at Euro 2016. Lukaku has scored 11 goals in qualifiers for Belgium and 27 with Manchester United. Two goals in his first game will have boosted his confidence even further. He is certainly one to watch in this tournament.

Sweden Edge Out South Korea

Sweden and South Korea were playing a must-win game for both teams. With Mexico having beaten Germany with some of the best counter attacking football we have seen recently, it was primordial to get the 3 points today. In what was a tight game to start with, Sweden slowly took control of the midfield and pushed the South Koreans to make a mistake.

After a foul from South Korea in the box was initially missed by the referee, Sweden obtained a penalty thanks to VAR. Looking at the replay, it’s clear it would have been almost impossible for a referee to make that call without seeing a replay, so the use of VAR was justified. Sweden’s #4 Granqvist coolly slotted home to make it 1-0 and win the game. This was Sweden’s first goal since Germany 2006.

Standings

Group F: Mexico and Sweden top the group with a 1-0 win each. Germany and South Korea have zero points.

Group G: Belgium are first on goal difference, followed by England in second, both with  points. Tunisia are third and Panama fourth, both with zero points.

What’s next?

Group H (Round 1) and A (Round 2) are next:

  • 8:00 AM EST Colombia v Japan
  • 11:00 AM EST Poland v Senegal
  • 2:00 PM EST Russia v Egypt

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Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

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