Premier League Watch
Only one Premier League player got on the scoresheet on Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup, as Groups A and B came to their respective climaxes. That was Mo Salah, who opened the scoring for already-eliminated Egypt against Saudi Arabia with a well-taken lob. The Liverpool forward showed glimpses of the form that made him the most feared attacker in the Premier League last season, but he missed another good chance and his side – also featuring Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny – was made to pay as the Saudis fought back to secure their first World Cup win since 1994. Salah will definitely benefit from a bit of time off to recover after a very long and emotional season for both club and country.
Over in an action-packed finale to Group B, David de Gea had another eventful evening as Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco. The Manchester United goalkeeper couldn’t do much about the Youssef En-Nesyri header that put the Moroccans 2-1 up in the second half, but he won’t have been happy at being nutmegged by Khalid Boutaib for the Atlas Lions’ first. De Gea’s international teammate but club rival, Manchester City’s David Silva, had a typically tidy game in the attacking right-sided role he played against Portugal but not in the victory over Iran. For Morocco, Nordin Amrabat, still officially a Watford player, put in a spikily impressive display that included one thunderbolt of an effort that cannoned back off the Spanish woodwork.
For Portugal, Joao Mario – who finished the season on loan at West Ham from Inter – demonstrated clever movement against Iran, drifting between the lines and running beyond the forwards from his left-sided starting position. He is a difficult player to track in defence and will need to be watched carefully if starting against Uruguay in the last 16.