Premier League Watch
In a tense final round of Group H fixtures, three of the four teams were still optimistic about qualifying for the round of 16. West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate made his first start of the tournament for Senegal, paired with Everton’s Idrissa Gueye in central midfield. Club rival Sadio Mane was moved into a central forward role, as Senegal were far more proactive in attack than the surprisingly conservative Colombia.
Colombia continued with Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina – their most capped keeper ever – between the sticks, while Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez put in a solid performance that included one crucial last-ditch tackle on Mane.
Elsewhere in Group H, Japanese duo Shinji Okazaki and Maya Yoshida fell to a 1-0 defeat, as Yoshida’s Southampton teammate and defensive partner Jan Bednarek volleyed home the winner for already eliminated Poland. A notable mention for West Ham’s newly acquired goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who kept Poland’s first World Cup clean sheet since 1986.
A less anxious Group G rounded off the group-stage action. With both England and Belgium through, two heavily changes sides meandered towards an uninspiring 1-0 victory for Belgium. The Red Devils had four Premier League starters, with Marouane Fellaini, Michy Batshuayi and Mousa Dembele all starting their first World Cup 2018 match, with Dembele in particular impressing with his strength and guile in possession. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remained in goal – keeping his second clean sheet of the tournament – as Vincent Kompany was later introduced for a brief second-half cameo.