Thursday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup action features four games: Senegal vs. Colombia and Japan vs. Poland in the final Group H games and Panama vs. Tunisia and England vs. Belgium in the Group G finales. Check below for game reports, highlights and other key facts from World Cup 2018 Day 15.
4 p.m. ET, England 0, Belgium 1 (Final):
Belgium and England didn’t field their best starting lineups Thursday in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G finale with qualification to the Round of 16 already secured by both teams.
The Belgians earned a 1-0 win to top the group with a perfect 3-0-0 record and nine goals scored. England finished second with a 2-1-0 mark and eight goals scored.
Adnan Januzaj scored the game’s only goal on this super individual effort in the 51st minute.
England threatened throughout the second half but couldn’t score an equalizer. The Three Lions’ best scoring chance was this Marcus Rashford breakaway attempt that the Manchester United striker couldn’t convert.
England managed only two shots on goal and earned just 47 percent of possession.
Man of the Match:
Januzaj’s impressive goal earns him man of the match honors.
Belgium will play Japan in the Round of 16 on Monday at 2 p.m. ET, while England will take on Colombia in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.
4 p.m. ET Panama 1, Tunisia 2 (Final):
Tunisia will return home from Russia with points in its bag.
Panama fell to Tunisia 2-1 on Thursday in their final 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G game. The result confirms Tunisia as Group G’s third-place finisher, while Panama ends its World Cup 2018 run as the last-place team in the group.
Despite controlling the early stages of the game, Tunisia conceded the first goal when Yassine Meriah deflected Jose Luis Rodriguez’s shot into his own goal in the 33rd minute.
Panama carried the lead into halftime but lost it just six minutes into the second period when Tunisia’s Fakhreddine Ben Youssef finished this flowing move.
Youssef’s goal also marks a World Cup milestone.
Tunisia striker Wahbi Khazri netted the game winner 10 minutes later.
Tunisia repelled Panama’s best efforts at scoring the tying goal and held on for the win.
Man of the Match: Ben Youssef’s goal helped him claim MOTM honors.
Panama and Tunisia are homeward-bound, having failed to progress from the group stage.
Noon ET, Senegal 0, Colombia 1 (Final):
Colombia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup dream continues on merit, but Senegal’s ends on the perceived unfairness of fair play.
Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 on Thursday in their final World Cup 2018 Group H game. The result lifts Colombia from third to first in the Group H standings. Senegal slips from second to third place and is eliminated from the World Cup due to the third tie-breaker: fair-play points.
Colombia’s prospects looked bleak a half-hour into the game when playmaker James Rodriguez limped out of the game due to injury. The 26-year-old star has been battling a calf problem throughout the World Cup.
The teams battled but failed to score in the first half. Colombia had a slight edge in possession, but Senegal created more goal-scoring chances. The Lions’ failure to capitalize on them ultimately led to their undoing in the second half.
Colombia defender Yerry Mina became a national hero in the 74th minute when he headed in Juan Quintero’s corner kick.
Mina’s goal, combined with Japan losing to Poland in the other concurrent Group H game, propelled Colombia into first place.
Senegal needed to score or for Japan to concede another goal to reclaim second place, but neither situation came to pass.
Despite equaling Japan’s points total, goal differential, total goals scored and having played to a 2-2 draw on Gameday 2, Senegal finishes behind the Asian nation on fair-play points, falling victim to a new FIFA rule.
Meanwhile, Colombia can be proud of its World Cup 2018 turnaround.
Man of the Match: Mina
The Colombia defender scored Group H’s decisive goal and takes home MOTM honors.
Senegal exits World Cup 2018 on fair-play heartbreak. Colombia will play Group G runner-up England at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in the Round of 16.
Noon ET, Japan 0, Poland 1 (Final):
Japan found a new way to progress to the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first team ever to progress from the group stage via the fair-play-points tiebreaker.
Japan lost 1-0 to Poland on Thursday in its final game of Group G play, placing the Japanese in a second-place tie with Senegal — which lost 1-0 to Colombia on Thursday — with four points. Both Japan and Senegal also finished tied in the first two tiebreakers, which, in order, are goal differential and goals scored. The third and deciding tiebreaker is fair play points, which means the team with the fewest yellow cards throughout the group stage goes through. This tiebreaker is making its debut at the 2018 World Cup.
Japan had four yellow cards to Senegal’s six, so it’s Japan advancing thanks to its reluctance to play physically during the group stage.
Poland created this mess by taking the lead in the 59th minute on a free kick goal by Jan Bednarek.
Japan was able to avert another goal, but it wasn’t easy. The Japanese almost scored on their own net late in the second half.
Man of the Match:
Bednarek’s goal was the only successful strike of the game, so he earns man of the match honors.
Poland is going home after a disappointing 1-2-0 record in the group stage, while Japan will play the Group H winner Belgium at 2 p.m. ET on Monday in the Round of 16.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images