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The day’s first game was a feisty affair between Colombia and Japan. Colombia started without James Rodriguez who was only deemed fit enough to be on the bench and to be used only in the case of emergency.

Well, a penalty and a sending-off after 2 minutes and 56 seconds certainly qualified as an emergency but it was to be a while still before he was risked.

The penalty was awarded for deliberate handball which prevented a goal and was, therefore, a red card offence. The offending player, Carlos Sánchez, became the second earliest victim of a sending off in the competition’s history, following that of José Alberto Batista for Uruguay against Scotland in 1986. He lasted a mere 54 seconds and stands to hold the record for a very long time, probably even in perpetuity.

Anyway, Shinji Kagawa scored the penalty after which Colombia showed a lot of fight and spirit and even managed to equalise through Juan Quintero’s clever free-kick but, in the end, it was to no avail as the Colombians tired and Yuya Osako scored what proved to be the winner for Japan.

In the second game a very disappointing Poland were beaten by a very decent looking Senegal. The scoreline of 2-1 actually flattered the Poles somewhat as, at one stage, they were 2-0 down and it could have been more.

Strangely, despite their dominance there was a very large slice of luck involved in both goals. Firstly, Thiago Cionek sliced a low cross, which was going nowhere, past his own keeper. Then, in the second-half, Grzegorz Krychowiak hit an awful back pass, supposedly to his centre back, from near the halfway line. It went sailing past the player and goalkeeper Szczesny came dashing out to save the day. Unfortunately, he only succeeded in missing the ball and Mbaye Niang stole in to finish.

Krychowiak himself scored with a header to give some hope of a comeback but it wasn’t to be.

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Russian players remind each other to send a “thank you” card to Sergio Ramos!

The final game brought the hosts back onto the pitch, this time against Egypt. Russia, resurgent since their 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, were looking good. Egypt, on the other hand, were looking to Mo Salah who was, at best, 80% fit but it was a risk they had to take.

It was a gamble which failed and the Russians were 3-0 up without having to work very hard for their lead. An own goal by Ahmed Fathi followed by well taken goals from Cheryshev and Dzyuba made life comfortable for the home team before a penalty, which Salah converted, gave him his World Cup goal.

It was a pity as this is almost certainly the end of Egypt’s campaign and, for Salah, who has put in so many hours in an attempt to get fit for this tournament, it must all seem like a bit of an anti-climax now.

Russia finished by winning the game 3-1 and are now, barring disaster, through to the last 16.

And finally…..

Ground-breaking Arsenal lead the way in the Premier League with Unai Emery’s new team filling vacant or weak positions at a rate of knots!

Having shown Chelsea how easy it is to get themselves a new manager, despite having had no practice at it for 22 years, Arsenal have now shown Liverpool how it is just as easy to sign a new goalkeeper.

The Merseyside club have been in dire need of one since well before Jürgen Klopp took over but it is only now a situation being addressed, or so we assume.

The London club have agreed a fee of around £19.2 million for Bernd Leno, the 26 year-old Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper and he is expected to sign a five year contract with them imminently.

This signing will raise a question mark over the future of Petr Cech who, of course, would be replaced by the German. Maybe he could go to Liverpool because, even at 36 years of age, he is still better than anything they have at present!

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Rui Patricio – The new Wolves goalkeeper

Even Wolverhampton Wanderers have realised how important a decent goalkeeper is in the Premier League and have signed Rui Patricio on a free from Sporting Lisbon. So what, exactly, is Liverpool’s problem?

 

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