World Cup Recap: Day 11

Hat-trick Kane leads England over Panama, Colombia thump Poland to conclude second round of group stage

Harry Kane was at it again. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The last round of games in the second matchday of the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place on Sunday. England vs. Panama, Japan vs. Senegal and Poland vs. Colombia would wrap up things in Group G and H before simultaneous matches begin on Monday.

England 6-1 Panama

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Attendance: 43,319

Panama was overmatched as England’s talented squad ran through them in a seven goal affair. Eight minutes in, Manchester City’s John Stones knocks in a header from a corner to put the England up 1-nil. It would then be Manchester United’s speedy winger Jesse Lingard who would earn a penalty in the 20th minute. Harry Kane - who came into this match on two goals - buried the penalty to increase the lead to two. Lingard would get himself on the board with a blast from the half moon in the 36th minute. Stones would again capitalize off a set-piece, this time a free kick, in the 40th minute before Kane would convert again from the penalty spot to complete his own double in first half stoppage time. England were up 5-0 at halftime.

Kane picked up a hat-trick in the 62nd minute when a shot by teammate Ruben Loftus-Cheek rebounded off the back of his foot on its way towards the net. Despite being down 6-nil, Panama fans were ecstatic when defender Felipe Baloy would convert off a free kick to score Los Canaleros first goal at a FIFA World Cup in the 78th minute. The match would end with the 6-1 scoreline, securing England and Belgium’s tickets to the round of 16 as Panama and Tunisia look ahead to their final match.

Analysis: England go top of the group with this result and match Belgium on goal difference. This means that the final group match between those two will determine the group winner, if there is a loser. If the teams play to a tie then the side with more fair play points in their favor will be top of the group, which is why England is ahead now. If both are tied, still, then a drawing of lots will need to decide the group winner. In Panama’s case, they will play their final match against Tunisia before both sides leave Russia. Don’t expect that to be a boring affair as both will look to leave with a win. Panama will be aiming for a historic first win at a World Cup while Tunisia will be hoping to get their first win since Argentina 1978.

Notable stat: Harry Kane became the first England player to score a hat-trick at the FIFA World Cup since Gary Lineker at Mexico 1986. Lineker went on to win the tournament’s Golden Boot, an award Kane is now in the lead for with his five goals at Russia 2018.

Japan 2-2 Senegal

Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg

Attendance: 32,572

A battle for the top of the top of Group H would leave us with only the fourth draw of the tournament. Senegal would take the lead in the 11th minute after Liverpool forward Sadio Mane capitalized on a goalkeeping error by Eiji Kawashima. Senegal's Youssouf Sabaly took a shot on goal, which Kawashima punched out. Unfortunately for Japan, Mane would be there next to their goalie to have the ball rebound off his shin and into goal. The Samurai Blue would tie things up in the 34th minute when Yuto Nagatomo and Takashi Inui would combine with ninja-like footwork inside the box.

Both teams would strive for the lead in the second half, with Japan coming closest with a shot of the post around the 64th minute. It would be Senegal that would break the deadlock with a right-to-left strike from Moussa Wague in the 71st minute. The legendary Keisuke Honda would enter the match in the following minute before tying the match in the 78th minute. The match ended 2-2 with everything to be decided on the final matchday.

Analysis: This match felt like a final for both teams, knowing a win would have clinched a spot into the next round. Still with possibilities to be eliminated, both sides control their destiny and will advance with a win. Japan look to have the easier route as they will face a Poland side that has yet to taste victory at Russia 2018. Senegal will face a Colombia side that will also be fighting for qualification.

Notable stat: Senegal have now scored in six of their seven World Cup matches. Japan scored in the opening two matches of a World Cup for the first time since they joint-hosted in 2002.

Poland 0-3 Colombia

Kazan Arena, Kazan

Attendance: 42,873

Both of these sides came into this match with their backs against the wall. A win would mean relief and higher chances of qualification to the next round, a draw would barely mean survival and a loss would mean elimination. The start of the match would be a deadlock. In fact, both sides generated a combined five shots in the first half. The only shot on goal, in fact, came from the Colombia’s goal in the 40th minute where a corner transpired to a header by FC Barcelona’s Yerry Mina. Colombia would lead 1-0 at the half.

Colombia would arrive in the second half with growing confidence, especially after goalkeeper David Ospina denied the equalizer to one of Europe’s top strikers in Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski’s FC Bayern Munich teammate James Rodriguez would pick up his second assist of the match as Radamel Falcao scored Colombia’s second in the 70th minute. Juan Cuadrado would pen the third for Los Cafeteros just five minutes later. Ospina would suffer an injury at around the 82nd minute on another denial to goal. The Arsenal keeper asked for a substitution but Colombia had made all its changes forcing Colombia to play with a keeper on one good leg for the rest of the match. The South Americans would dominate possession with Poland only posing danger once in the final stretch.

Analysis: This was an uplifting win for Colombia and one that may kick off a run in this World Cup. James Rodriguez showed his quality, picking up Man of the Match honors in his return to the starting lineup. The gravity of Ospina will be the question moving forward but Colombia has good options on the bench in Camilo Vargas and Jose Fernando Cuadrado, both players from the domestic league. For Poland, this is a disappointing exit and it will be interesting to see the energy they show in the final match despite having nothing to play for.

Notable stat: Colombia’s all-time leading scorer, Radamel Falcao, scored his first goal at a FIFA World Cup against Poland.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Monday, June 25

9 a.m. - [Group A] Uruguay vs. Russia (FOX, Telemundo)

9 a.m. - [Group A] Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt (FS1, NBC Universo)

1 p.m. - [Group B] Spain vs. Morocco (FS1, NBC Universo)

1 p.m. - [Group B] Iran vs. Portugal (FOX, Telemundo)

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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