World Cup Recap: Day 6

Wins for Japan, Senegal and Russia as host nation continues to score big

Russia is now 2-0 as hosts of the World Cup. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The final games in the first round of the group stage would be played on Tuesday as Russia vs. Egypt would kick off the second wave of group matches. A lot of the attention would be the stars of European leagues like Colombia’s James Rodriguez, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Senegal’s Sadio Mané and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.

Colombia 1-2 Japan

Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Attendance: 40,842

Colombia are one of the teams considered a “dark horse” in this World Cup, but Los Cafeteros could not have gotten off to a more nightmarish start. A handball in the third minute not only conceded a penalty in favor of Japan but it also left Colombia to battle the remainder of the 87-plus minutes with 10 men after the red card to defender Carlos Sanchez. Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa converted from the penalty spot and Japan was up 1-0 early. Colombia reorganized themselves in midfield but their best opportunity would come on a dead ball after Radamel Falcao won a free kick in the 37th minute. Juan Fernando Quintero sneaked the ball through the ground as the players on the wall jumped and - with confirmation from the goal-line technology - Colombia tied the score.

Japan was able to rectify their form in the second half, they took control of possession and made use of the man-advantage. Both teams generated five shots in the first half but Japan had the better second half, outshooting Colombia nine to three. After their persistence in attack, Japan finally broke through on a corner as Yuya Osako headed in the game-winning goal in the 73rd minute.

Analysis: Colombia will be disappointed not to have gotten off to a better start but better to have this setback in the first match while they still have time to rectify their form. They will play their most important match yet against Poland, who will not be an easy outing. Japan pick up a big result that could see them advance to their first round of 16 since South Africa 2010, if they are able to capitalize on this result. Group H is wide open.

Notable stat: Japan is the first Asian side to beat a South American opponent at a FIFA World Cup

Poland 1-2 Senegal

Spartak Stadium, Moscow

Attendance: 44,190

Senegal are the first African team to pick up a win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after defeating Poland. Both sides had opportunities to take the lead but the opening goal would come off an own-goal from Poland in the 37th minute. A shot by Senegal’s Idrissa Gueye rebounded off the leg of Polish defender Thiago Cionek to make it 1-0. That was the clearest scoring opportunity as neither teams generated a shot on goal in the first half.

The deficit would open up the game and bring out a more attacking Poland in the second half. Robert Lewandowski had a good opportunity from a free kick that was saved by the Senegalese goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye. Senegal would increase their lead in a bit of controversial fashion as forward Mbaye Niang re-entered the match from injury to sprint and score in the 60th minute. Poland had a high line in defense and were caught off guard of Niang re-entering the field. Poland finally got on the board in the 85th minute with a header from Grzegorz Krychowiak but were unable to get the draw or the comeback.

Analysis: This is a big win for Senegal considering the success of European countries at this World Cup. The Teranga Lions have a good chance to finish top of the group - depending on what happens from here, of course - but their biggest focus should be on bettering their form as a round of 16 match will likely come against Belgium or England. Poland now stares at a possible elimination match against Colombia on Sunday, depending on what happens between Senegal and Japan.

Notable stat: Senegal have yet to lose a group stage match at a FIFA World Cup (now 1-3-0)

Russia 3-1 Egypt

Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg

Attendance: 64,468

After finishing as the top scorer in the Premier League and guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League Final, Mohamed Salah made his awaited debut for Egypt at the World Cup. The Egyptian star, coming back from a shoulder injury, would have a quiet match with only one shot in the first half. Neither side did much in the first half, for that matter, as tensions grew with each passing minute. Unfortunately for Egypt, the game would be blown wide open with an own goal off defender Ahmed Fathi in the 47th minute. Denis Cheryshev would add to his tally - and tie Cristiano Ronaldo in the Golden Boot race - with Russia’s second goal in the 59th minute. Artem Dzyuba scored Russia’s third in the 62nd to extend the lead to 3-nil. Salah would convert a penalty in the 73rd minute to open his account but Egypt would not be able to reverse the momentum.

Analysis: Russia picked up a huge result to all but secure their passage into the round of 16, which would be the farthest they have advanced since the fall of the Soviet Union. An Uruguay win would set up for a battle for the top spot of the group. Egypt, on the other hand, depends on a miracle win from Saudi Arabia to keep their hopes alive. Mo Salah’s debut may have come too late for the Egyptians as they stare at an early exit.

Notable stat: Egypt’s last goal at a World Cup also came off a penalty, converted by Magdi Abdelghani in a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands at Italy 1990.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, June 20

7 a.m. - [Group B] Portugal vs. Morocco (FS1, Telemundo)

10 a.m. - [Group A] Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia (FOX, Telemundo)

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

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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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