Here’s our take of the top 5 matches from Group A to Group F in Day 1 to 5 of FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Top 5: Brazil held to shock draw by Switzerland
Brazil 1-1 Switzerland (Group E)
Brazil swaggered about for much of the first half with Neymar – looking every inch the A-lister with his meticulously coiffured blond crop – the performer-in-chief. He repeatedly slowed to a halt in a flashy attempt to trick his marker into a rash move. Yet they were stunned when Steven Zuber headed the equalizer early in the second half and, despite a late onslaught, Brazil could not dig themselves out of the hole. It was self-inflicted.
Highlights: (Philippe Coutinho 20′; Steven Zuber 50′)
20 min Marcelo’s cross was headed away to Coutinho, in the inside-left channel 25 yards from goal. His first touch was immaculate, teeing himself up for a big right-footed curler that clattered off the inside of the far post and into the net. It’s a beautiful goal, the kind we’ve seen him score so often.
50 min A simpler goal will not be scored in the tournament. Shaqiri curled an inswinging corner into the six-yard box, where Zuber eased Miranda out of the way and flashed a header past Alisson. He did put hands on Miranda’s back, and Brazil are appealing for VAR, though I’m not sure it was enough for the free-kick. Yes, the goal has been given.
Top 4: It’s Iceland’s Independence Day as Lionel Messi misses penalty kick
Argentina 1-1 Iceland (Group D)
Lionel Messi has admitted his “hurt” after missing a decisive penalty that would have seen Argentina snatch victory over Iceland on Sunday.
Disorganised in attack and shaky in defense, Iceland quickly erased Sergio Aguero’s opener, before Maximiliano Meza was brought down, leaving Messi to do the honors from the spot kick.
Highlights: (Sergio Aguero 19′; Alfred Finnbogason 23′)
19 min Sergio Aguero scores his first ever World Cup goal with a clinical strike, slamming the ball into the top corner whilst surrounded by Icelandic bodies. Argentina 1-0 Iceland
23 min Iceland level almost immediately. Caballero fumbled a low cross from Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason was there to slot home Iceland’s first ever World Cup goal. Great start to this game. 1-1
90+5 min Messi’s free-kick hits the wall, and that’s the last kick of the game! Iceland have drawn with Argentina in their first World Cup match!
Top 3: VAR Decision Hands France Victory Over Australia
France 2-1 Australia (Group C)
Didier Deschamps’ side benefitted from a curious video assistant referee decision that cost Australia a clean sheet. France were given and scored a controversial penalty against Australia after the use of VAR early in the second half. Les Bleus forward Antoine Griezmann went down in the 18-yard box after a tackle from Josh Risdon in the 54th minute.
Highlights: (Antoine Griezmann 58′ Pen; Aziz Behich 81′ o.g.; Mile Jedinak 62′ Pen)
58 min Griezmann blasts the ball to the stationary Ryan’s left. France have laboured but they have a precious lead.
61 min Jedinak, Australia’s penalty-taking specialist rolls the ball calmly to Lloris’ left and the underdogs are level.
81 min Out of nothing Pogba does it for France! Finally some interplay in midfield creates an opportunity with the Manchester United man striding into the box and lifting an improvised toe-poke volley above Ryan and in off the crossbar. The ball only just crossed the line but it was swiftly confirmed by technology. Heartbreak for Australia, relief for the big guns.
Top 2: Germany ‘on thin ice’ after a shock Mexico defeat
Germany 0-1 Mexico (Group F)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia has its first absolute stunner. Mexico, behind a first-half goal from Hirving Lozano, upset reigning champs Germany in the group stage opener, 1-0. In a tense, hectic match that would make anybody shake from the nerves, El Tri bent but did not break in the second half, withstanding chance after chance from the European giants for arguably its greatest World Cup victory ever.
Lozano, on the counter, was the hero on the day in attack, beating Manuel Neuer with this effort.
Highlights: (Hirving Lozano 35′)
35 min GOAAAAL! Mexico take the lead! A quick break from Mexico left Javier Hernandez one on one with Jerome Boateng but Hirving Lozano sped up the left where he recieved the ball and smashed it past Neuer at the near post. Brilliant awareness from Hernandez, who could have taken on Boateng himself but unselfishly presented the ball to Lozano. 1-0!
65 min OVER! Kimmich latches onto Boateng’s cross and tries an acrobatic overhead kick, which loops over the head of Ochoa and lands on the roof of the net.
67 min BLOCKED! Germany starting to find room as a cross floats over Salcedo and into the path of Draxler, who sees a shot deflected behind. From the resulting corner, Werner volleys over the bar.
89 min OFF THE POST! The ball drops to Brandt on the edge of the area and the Bayer Leverkusen man smashes a ferocious attempt at goal which clatters the outside of the post.
84 min SAVE! I’ve lost count of the number of times Kroos has tried his luck from distance but, barring the free-kick, hasn’t threatened Ochoa enough. It’s another comfortable save.
Top 1: Favorites Spain Draws with Portugal in Historic Match
Portugal 3-3 Spain (Group B)
All Spain’s fans could do, after it was over, was applaud. There was no sense wallowing in disappointment, worrying about what it all might mean. Spain had victory snatched away at the last moment, denied a cathartic moment by its nearest neighbor, and yet there was no bitterness, no sorrow: only admiration, and awe. Sometimes, it is not the winning, but the taking part.
Highlights: (Cristiano Ronaldo 4′ Pen, 44′, 88′; Diego Costa 24′, 55′; Fernandez Nacho 58′)
4 min GOALLLLLLLLLL!!!! 1-0 PORTUGAL!!! Ronaldo keeps his composure against De Gea, lifting his effort into the net. The Portugal skipper sends De Gea the wrong way with a fine finish from 12 yards. What a start for the European champions.
24 min GOALLLLLLLLL!!!! COSTA EQUALISES FOR SPAIN 1-1!!! Spain are back on level terms as Costa controls a long ball forward before firing a precise effort past Patricio into the bottom corner. Busquets launches a long ball forward to Costa, the forward then does it all himself as he fends off a challenge from Pepe before seeing off Fonte with ease. With his right foot he drills an effort into the bottom corner to notch the equaliser. A brilliant strike.
44 min GOALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! RONALDO SCORES 2-1!!!! A HORROR SHOW FOR DE GEA!!! Portugal regain the lead on the stroke of half-time as Ronaldo’s strike squirms through the legs of De Gea into the net. It was a shot out of nothing from the edge of the box after Guedes teed up his captain for the strike. His effort was a low and hit with power, but it should have been a comfortable save for the Manchester United keeper. De Gea allowed it through him and Portugal have the lead.
55 min GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! COSTA EQUALISES AGAIN 2-2!!! Spain are back on level terms for the second time in the match as Costa strikes from close range. David Silva’s neat free-kick picked out the run of Busquets at the back post and he headed the ball across the face of goal. Costa was the first man react to turn it home into the net. Game on.
58 min GOALLLLLLLL!!!! SPAIN TAKE THE LEAD!!! NACHO SCORES A STUNNER 3-2!!!!! Hierro’s men have completed the turnaround as Portugal fail to clear their lines on the edge of the box. Nacho seizes on the loose ball and drills an effort at goal on the half-volley. He catches it crisply and it flies towards the target, striking the inside of the post before nestling into the bottom corner. What a comeback from Spain in the second half.
88 min RONALDO!!!!! 3-3!! IT’S BRILLIANT!!!! Ronaldo completes his hat-trick with a sensational effort from the free-kick. It appeared to close to go over the wall, but he found a way. He lifted his effort over top of the leaping figures of Ramos and Pique. The ball had enough curl and dip to find the top corner, leaving De Gea with no chance. What a performance from the Portugal captain.