Match 1: France v Australia (2-1)
France escaped with all three points but they were made to work for the whole 90 minutes as they narrowly beat Australia 2-1.
France were the heavy favourites coming into the game but it was the Aussies who were trying to play possession football and putting some good passing moves together. The men wearing blue seemed lethargic and disinterested which gave Australia huge confidence and they actually looked the better side for the first 45 minutes.
The second half was full of controversy as two penalties were awarded via VAR decisions. The first was given to France after Griezmann was brought down in the box. The decision seemed very unfair as the referee probably got his initial decision right to not award the penalty but VAR overturned his ruling. Griezmann fired the ball into the net and gave France a 1-0 lead.
Then just four minutes later, Umtiti handled the ball in the box and Jedinak slotted home the penalty for Australia to level the match. It seemed like justice had been served but ten minutes from time, a chipped toe poke from Paul Pogba clipped the underside of the bar and crossed the line to seal a 2-1 victory for Les Blues.
Match 2: Argentina v Iceland (1-1)
Iceland manager and dentist, Heimir Hallgrimsson, said in the build up that this was the biggest game in Iceland’s football history. Although his side didn’t win, a 1-1 draw with two-time World Cup winners Argentina is certainly something to be proud of.
Things started as many expected, Argentina dominated possession and Iceland were defending very deep. In fact, Iceland were defending so deep that a few of their players should have been wearing scuba masks.
It took Argentina just 20 minutes to break the deadlock. The ball was fired into Sergio Aguero’s feet and he did ever so well to create the space he needed to rifle the ball into the top corner. The goal marked the first ever goal that Aguero has scored in a World Cup.
Iceland were behind for only three minutes though. Argentina’s shaky defence was exploited as they failed to clear the ball from a cross into the box and Alfred Finnbogason slotted the ball into the net to tie the game once again.
It meant that Argentina once again had to try and pick the lock to Iceland’s disciplined defence. Their best chance to retake the lead came just after the hour mark when Lionel Messi stepped up to take a penalty. His shot however was saved and Iceland managed to hang on for a well deserved point.
Match 3: Peru v Denmark (0-1)
The third match of the day between Peru and Denmark was the first time in history the two nations had ever met.
The game was a much more open affair than the first two matches of the day. Both teams set out with an attacking mind-set but it was Peru who looked the much more likely to score and perhaps they should have. Just seconds before halftime, the Peruvians were awarded a penalty via a VAR decision that overruled the referee’s on-pitch decision. However, Christian Cueva fired high over the crossbar for the second missed penalty of the day.
Peru continued to look the more dangerous in the second half but Denmark caught them out on the counter attack. Eriksen found himself in space and he released Poulsen down the left wing who went through one-on-one with the Peru goalkeeper. Poulsen decided to go near post and he scored the only goal of the game.
Match 4: Croatia v Nigeria (2-0)
This was another fairly flat game but it was Croatia who looked the better of the two sides. Ten of the starting eleven for Croatia had over 35 caps and they showed their experience as they beat Nigeria 2-0.
Croatia, playing in their iconic chequered shirts, were creating the better chances in the first half and they made their advantage count in the 32nd minute. A Croatian header was directed towards goal and it took a deflection off of the Nigerian defender for an own goal.
There was some crazy defending by Nigeria in the second half as they gave away a penalty. The Nigerian player had his arms wrapped around Mario Mandzukic as he went up for a header from a corner. If it had been rugby, the man in green would have been sent to the sin bin for a high tackle. Luka Modric stepped up and slotted home the penalty on a day that had already seen four penalties taken.
A 2-0 win for Croatia means that they are now top of the group.
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