AUSTRALIA 0 PERU 2 (Sochi)
Peru has eliminated Australia with a 2-0 victory, allowing the Latin American side to exit the 2018 World Cup with one win. Australia entered the match with the possibility of qualifying to the next round if they won, and Denmark lost against France. Despite their motivating stance, the Socceroos failed to make an impact on the pitch, enabling Peru to take control. In the 18th minute, a long ball for Guerrero pushes Peruvian strikers up, finding Carrillo and allowing him to smash the ball into the net for Peru’s first World Cup goal. Australia spent the majority of the first half attempting to match Peru’s efforts but failed. Then, in the 50th minute, a lovely interplay by Cueva finds Guerrero, who clips the ball over the Australian goalkeeper, Mathew Ryan, to double Peru’s lead and abolish Australia’s hopes of making it to the knockout stage.
DENMARK 0 FRANCE 0 (Moscow)
Denmark holds France to a 0-0 draw, doing just enough to qualify to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup. The Danish side knew prior to kickoff, that a win or draw would enable them to proceed to the next round. This knowledge translated onto the pitch, as Denmark strengthened their defensive line and remained cautious when pushing forward. France, on the other hand, played as if they had nothing to lose because La Marseillaise had already qualified by defeating Peru and Australia. Both nations held a high tempo throughout the match, attempting several shots on goal. France looked to dominate most of the second half, however, by retaining 68% possession. Despite both nations’ efforts, neither one could find the back of the net, producing the 2018 World Cup’s first scoreless match.
CROATIA 2 ICELAND 1 (Rostov-on-Don)
Iceland have been eliminated from the World Cup after suffering a 2-1 defeat against Croatia.
The Icelandic nation entered the match with the possibility of progressing to the next round, but failed to translate that opportunity into their efforts on the pitch. Group D leaders, Croatia, on the other hand, took control of the match from the start, denying Iceland possession and attempts on goal. Towards the later part of the first half, Iceland matched their opponent’s tempo and became a fearful contender. Minutes after the second half whistle, Croatia proved themselves as leaders when Milan Badelj found the rebound within the opposition box and fired the ball into the net from 10 yards away for the opening goal. Then, the 76th minute revived Iceland’s hopes as a Handball by Dejan Lovren inside the box awarded Iceland a penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and shot the ball straight down the middle to equalize the match 1-1. Unfortunately, Iceland’s efforts were not enough to hold the draw as a last-minute shot by Ivan Perisic raced past Iceland goalkeeper, Hannes Halldorsson, to end the game 2-1.
ARGENTINA 2 NIGERIA 1 (St. Petersburg)
Argentina progresses to the knockout round by eliminating Nigeria in a shocking 2-1 victory. Nigeria began the match with immense energy, pressing the Argentinian defense and establishing their dominance. The Latin American used their current position as motivation and matched their opponent’s robust tempo. As most expected, Lionel Messi made a comeback and found Banega’s cross to smash the ball into the net, attaining the lead by scoring the 2018 World Cup’s 100th goal in the 13th minute. After the halftime, the score impacted Argentina’s dominance in the match, overpowering a defeated Nigeria. Then, in the 51st minute, a foul by Javier Mascherano on Leon Balogun within the box awarded Nigeria a penalty. Victory Mosses approached the penalty spot and tapped the ball into the post to revive his country’s World Cup hopes. The equalizer awakened Nigeria’s enthusiastic drive, creating a high tempo match between two sides desperate to qualify. Nigeria, however, simply could not hold on, as Marcos Rojo volleyed a right footed shot into the bottom left corner to give Argentina the 2-1 lead in the 86th minute, sealing their victory and securing a spot in the knockout stage.