Lionel Messi said Argentina "didn't deserve to go out in the first round" as he and his teammates barely escaped elimination at the World Cup with a late 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday.
Messi scored Argentina's opener, but a second-half Nigeria penalty kick meant they were staring at the exit door until Marcos Rojo volleyed home the winner in the 86th minute.
Following an opening draw with Iceland and a 3-0 defeat to Croatia, the pressure on Messi and Argentina was clear, but he said the players still believed they would prevail.
"It was an amazing way to qualify," Messi told TyC Sports after the game. "It took a lot from us but we didn't deserve to go out in the first round, so we're all very happy. We knew we were going to win, but we hadn't expected it to be as tough as it was."
Germany’s national team have already left their FIFA World Cup™ base in Vatutinki and returned home, leaving hotel staff to commence the big clean-up as members of the media begin packing their bags too.
The overriding emotion is one of tremendous disillusionment – after all, nobody expected this. While there were some portents of doom in the run-up to the tournament, neither the team nor the media seemed able or willing to take notice of them. As a result, Germany became the third successive world champions whose title defence ended after the group stage.
The group stage at the 2018 World Cup has had everything. Late goals. Controversy. Final day drama. And now, after one of the most entertaining four-team groupings ended with two hours of tension and emotional swings, it has a World Cup first: Senegal is going home on the arcane tiebreaker known as “fair play.”
Colombia and Japan qualified for the Round of 16 on Thursday at the expense of Senegal in bizarre fashion: Because over the three games, Japan had picked up four yellow cards, while Senegal had earned six.
That was the only reason. Two yellow cards were all that separated the teams. Colombia’s 1-0 win over Senegal and Poland’s 1-0 defeat of Japan on Thursday left Japan and Senegal tied on points (4), goal differential (0), goals scored (4), and the head-to-head tiebreaker (draw). It brought in the sixth of seven group tiebreakers, “fair play.
The World Cup is a beautiful time. It's like March Madness, only it happens once every four years and the entire globe is watching. With that in mind, it's time to start making your picks for who's going to hoist the FIFA World Cup Trophy on July 15.
It won't be defending champs and powerhouse Germany. They were knocked out in the group stage on Wednesday. Will it be the Lionel Messi-led Argentina? Ronaldo's Portugal? Or someone completely different? Pretty much anything can happen, so we have to find out, but you can make your picks for bragging rights later now!
The World Cup bracket is uniquely difficult to predict, because there are always big surprises. The group stage came to an end on Thursday and the final 16 participants are finally set.
Belgium defeat England 1-0 as stars watch from bench
After defeating England, Belgium will play Japan and England will play Colombia.…
The Spaniards crashed out of the 2018 World Cup in the Round of 16 in stunning fashion, at the hands of Russia on penalties. It labored through 120 minutes that ended 1-1, then lost the shootout.
It had smashed a World Cup passing record in those 120 minutes, completing 1,029 of its 1,137. Russia had just 202. But Spain was utterly impotent. It was completely bereft of ambition. It passed its own World Cup campaign to death, and perished in one of the biggest upsets in knockout round history.
The 1,000 passes were deathly boring, too. They proved once and for all that possession stats are anything but indicators of attacking soccer. Spain played as cautiously as any team at the World Cup. And it paid the price.
Andres Iniesta and Fyodor Smolov canceled each other out in the opening round of the shootout. Gerard Pique smashed Spain’s second in off the post, but 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich wrong-footed David De Gea to equalize. And then Igor Akinfeev denied Koke to give Russia the advantage.