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SOCHI, Russia, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) - A stoppage-time goal from Toni Kroos gave holders Germany a dramatic 2-1 win over Sweden Saturday to reignite their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup last 16.

Having lost their opening game to Mexico, the Germans looked to be heading for a draw until Kroos curled in a superb strike from wide on the left to secure victory for the four-times world champions.

They are now level with Sweden in Group F on three points, behind leaders Mexico who have six.

Sweden took the lead in the 32nd minute when Ola Toivonen finished confidently after Kroos gave the ball away in midfield, chesting the ball down expertly before lifting it over Manuel Neuer.

Marco Reus equalized in the 48th minute and despite having Jerome Boateng sent off in the 82nd minute, Germany kept going and Kroos’s shot five minutes into stoppage time earned them a famous win.

“We did not take our chances. We should have taken the lead in the opening minutes and we failed to do that (but) there is joy now,” Kroos told reporters.

“I know a lot of people would have been happy for us to be eliminated but we will not make it that easy for them ... now we must recover, we don’t have too much time, and we must beat South Korea.”

It was a cruel blow for the Swedes, who gave their all but came up just short.

“It’s probably the worst end of a game I’ve experienced in my career, that we didn’t get a draw, but the whole group is still alive, so we’ll have to lick our wounds and come back for the next one,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said

Defending deep and looking to counter, the Swedes started shakily but took the lead when they punished Kroos for giving the ball away by quickly finding Toivonen, who lifted the ball deftly over Neuer.

With Germany getting in behind Sweden’s full backs at will and fizzing passes across the box, it looked like a matter of time before they scored, but Toivonen’s goal gave Sweden breathing space.

Neuer saved the Germans from being 2-0 down at halftime, diving acrobatically to deflect Berg’s header from Sebastian Larsson’s stoppage-time free kick.

Reus connected with his knee to steer the ball home for the equalizer early in the second half to mark the beginning of a massive German offensive.

Substitute Mario Gomes gave the Germans a physical presence they had lacked, but he spurned two superb chances.

Boateng’s sending-off for his second yellow card eight minutes from time made little difference as the Germans continued to push forward in search of the winner.

Sweden had tired from their enormous defensive effort, but substitute John Guidetti should have done better than a lame shot, oblivious to the unmarked Emil Forsberg who was steaming through the middle.

From there the Germans launched the attack that led to substitute Jimmy Durmaz tripping Timo Werner and conceding the free kick that set up the chance for Kroos to curl in the winner.

The ball arced over helpless keeper Robin Olsen into the net, sparking an explosion of German joy on the bench and in the stands as the reigning champions kick-started their World Cup campaign.

“I told them to keep their calm in the next 45 minutes and to not start panicking and try to work long, high balls but to continue with short passes and go vertical to the wings and try to be incisive,” Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters.

“Something that I did appreciate was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going down. And in the second half the pressure built up more and more,” he added.

 

Rostov-On-Don, June 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Carlos Vela's penalty and a superbly-taken breakaway goal by Javier Hernandez gave Mexico a 2-1 World Cup Group F win over South Korea on Saturday which put them on the brink of a place in the last 16.

Mexico, shock winners over Germany in their opening game, went ahead in the 26th minute when Vela sent goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo the wrong way from the spot after Andres Guardado's cross hit the outstretched arm of Jang Hyun-soo at close range.

Hernandez added the second in the 66th minute, cutting inside his marker before guiding the ball home to finish off a lightning counter-attack after Mexico won the ball deep in their own half. Son Heung-min pulled one back for South Korea in stoppage time with a spectacular left-foot strike from outside the area.

Mexico lead with six points from two games while South Korea have lost both matches and have only a remote mathematical chance of progressing.

VOLGOGRAD, Russia, June 23, 2018 (MENA) - The Egyptian national football team arrived on Saturday in the Russian city of Volgograd for their last match in the FIFA World Cup against Saudi Arabia.

Both teams have no chance to qualify for the next stage. The qualifiers from Group A are hosts Russia and Uruguay, who beat the two Arab squads.

The Pharaohs and Saudi Arabia will only be playing for pride after being crashed out of the competition.

The match will be played at 4:00 pm Cairo Local Time on Monday.

MOSCOW, June 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Brazil said that Douglas Costa and Danilo have been ruled out of the team's decisive match against Serbia on Wednesday.

Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said on Saturday that Costa has a right thigh injury and Danilo is nursing a right hip problem. Danilo had already missed the match against Costa Rica on Friday.

Neither will travel with the rest of the squad for the match against Serbia in Moscow. They will remain at the team's base in Sochi for treatment.

Lasmar said Costa's injury, sustained against Costa Rica, was a bit more serious, although he did not mention a timetable for his recovery.

Brazil needs at least a draw against to advance to the next round.

REPINO/ SOCHI, Russia, June 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Poland will make changes for their match against Colombia on Sunday and start “more aggressively” in what will be a key match against opponents who also lost their opening contest, striker Dawid Kownacki said Saturday.

Both sides were defeated 2-1 in their first Group H games - Poland at the hands of Senegal and Colombia to Japan - meaning another defeat is unthinkable for either of them.

“We have to play more aggressively,” Kownacki said. “In the Senegal match, we did not show the aggression, we did not attack the rival as we should have. We should have played sharper. This was a key mistake.

“This (aggression) will be important in the match with Colombia. We have to get close to them, they have great players, a lot of individuals who can do a lot when they have control of the ball.

“When we get possession we need to make faster decisions. We kept the ball too long with Senegal, we could not get into the rhythm.”

Assistant coach Hubert Malowiejski said some of those who disappointed against Senegal would be dropped but he did not name names.

“There will be certainly be changes, it is not very likely that we will play with Colombia with the same players,” Malowiejski said.

“How many changes, and which positions, this decision has not been made yet. We have training sessions ahead of us, especially today’s training. The skeleton of the team will remain the same but there will be changes.”

The results in Group H have been one of the most surprising in the World Cup with the underdogs winning both opening ties.

That makes Sunday’s game in Kazan a crunch match for both sides, especially as Senegal play Japan a few hours before.

England must be more clinical against Panama

England need to be more clinical if they are to take care of Panama on Sunday in their second game in Group G and put themselves on the brink of qualification to the knockout stage.

If England beat Panama and Belgium beat or draw with Tunisia then England are through to the last 16.

Gareth Southgate’s side beat Tunisia 2-1 in their opening game but missed a series of first-half chances and needed a stoppage time winner from captain Harry Kane to secure the three points.

Defender John Stones says England have done their homework on Panama and says it is clear where the biggest area for improvement needs to be.

“Being more clinical,” he told reporters, “I think we know how the games are going to play out now and who we are going to play,” he said.

What England have learnt from their study of the Central American side, playing in their first World Cup, is that ‘Los Canaleros’ will aim to play a high-paced, physical game.

Southgate has prided himself on building a team that enjoy pass and movement football. Stones says they won’t change that approach because of their opponents.

“It is something we have spoken about and we are going to stick to our game plan. We’re going to cause them as many threats as we can using our own styles of play,” he said.

“That’s credit to the manager and the players we have got because a lot of the players at their clubs never change their style of play in difficult situations, they keep working at it and grind down teams,” he added.

Southgate has an injury doubt over attacking midfielder Dele Alli, who picked up a thigh injury against Tunisia. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who impressed as a substitute in the opener, is expected to start if Alli misses out.

The England manager will also have to decide whether to stick with Raheem Sterling in attack, despite his disappointing display, or bring in the in-form Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford.

Whoever Southgate opts for can expect a physical battle with Panama’s strapping central defender Roman Torres.

“Football is like that - you always have to impose yourself, you have to mark out your
territory,” said the Seattle Sounders defender.

“England are a bit more direct than Belgium. They try to make use of the pace they have. We’ll need to be compact and limit their space.”

Japan keen to flaunt attack against Senegal

Japan will look to further explore their attacking potential when they face Senegal in a battle of the surprise contenders to advance to the knockout stage from Group H on Sunday.

The Blue Samurai have largely worked on keeping things tight at the back since head coach Akira Nishino took over from the sacked Vahid Halilhodzic in April but saw their attack shift gears in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over 10-man Colombia in Saransk.

“We had to start by building the base, which is defense,” midfielder Genki Haraguchi told Kyodo news agency. “But with that base in place, our ability to attack and respond to different situations is increasing.”

Victory saw Japan become the first Asian side to beat South American opponents at the World Cup but they are fully aware that Senegal, who scored an upset 2-1 win over Poland, could pose a sterner test at the Ekaterinburg Arena.

“We must keep our feet on the ground... we have to take into account that we played against 10 men for almost 90 minutes,” skipper Makoto Hasebe said, referring to Carlos Sanchez’s dismissal which gave Japan the advantage against Colombia.

“The next game will be a different story, we have to think about that,” the defensive midfielder added.

Senegal come into the match equally high on confidence after a strong defensive display in Moscow helped them neutralize the Polish attack led by Robert Lewandowski.

“Senegal won due to discipline,” coach Aliou Cisse, captain of the side which beat holders France in their first ever World Cup match in 2002, said. “You saw a Senegal team very solid, very compact.”

With 10 of their starting XI from the last match playing in Europe, including Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal resemble a well-drilled European side and could make life tough for Japan.

Japan, who will bank on goalscorers Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osako as well as Keisuke Honda to provide thrust going forward, are confident they have what it takes to seal a third trip to the last 16 — the furthest they have reached at a World Cup.

Sunday's matches all times CLT:

2:00pm England vs Panama
5:00pm Japan vs Senegal
8:00pm Poland vs Colombia

 

 MOSCOW, June 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard scored two goals each in a dominant Belgium display on Saturday, leading their team over Tunisia 5-2 in the highest scoring game of the World Cup.

The Red Devils were rampant at times and rested both forwards in the second half for tougher tests ahead. A spot in the round of 16 is almost certain after an opening 3-0 win over Panama.

Belgium had a two-goal lead within 16 minutes. Hazard scored with a sixth-minute penalty kick he earned by being tripped, and Lukaku angled a low, left-foot shot into the corner of the opposing goal.

The Tunisians cut the lead when defender Dylan Bronn headed in a goal in the 18th minute, but Belgium wasn't done.

Lukaku clipped a right-foot shot over advancing goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha to match Cristiano Ronaldo with four goals as the tournament's top scorers. Hazard then ran on to a long pass in the 51st, flicked the ball around Ben Mustapha and shot into an empty net. Substitute Michy Batshuayi made it a rout in stoppage time, and failed with three other good scoring chances.

Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri got his team's second with almost the last kick of the match.

Belgium has shown the most complete attacking force at the World Cup, though without yet playing a European or South American team.

Against England on Thursday, Belgium will be favored to advance as the winner of Group H.

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