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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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