Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane impress in World Cup action on Sunday

24 June 2018

Jordan Henderson helped England to a record-breaking win over Panama on Saturday and Sadio Mane starred for Senegal.


Sunday was the final day of three matches back to back at the World Cup, as we reach the halfway point and enter the final group games this week.

We were entertained as England thumped Panama, Senegal and Japan drew 2-2, and Colombia outclassed Poland.

Here are some key talking points.

 

The Good

Mane is Senegal’s key man this summer, meaning all eyes were on him as the Africans faced a crucial clash with Japan.

The 26-year-old’s rather fortuitous strike gave Senegal a first-half lead and the Liverpool speedster was named Man of the Match in the eventual 2-2 draw, which leaves both teams on four points.

Mane could quite easily come up against England in the last-16 at this rate – will he be the latest Red to knock the Three Lions out of a major tournament?

Speaking of England, Jordan Henderson again shone in the middle of the park as Gareth Southgate’s side romped to a 6-1 win over Panama.

England's Jordan Henderson during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

It was their biggest-ever World Cup victory, with Harry Kane firing home a hat-trick to fly to the top of the scoring charts.

Colombia were magnificent in their richly-deserved 3-0 triumph over Poland, and rumoured Liverpool transfer target Yerry Mina was a colossus at the heart of the defence.

The centre-back headed home Colombia’s opener and barely put a foot wrong alongside Tottenham‘s impressive Davinson Sanchez.

A word of praise for James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero as well, who ran the show throughout with their wand-like left foots.

Rodriguez’s pass for Juan Cuadrado’s icing-on-the-cake strike may be the assist of the World Cup so far.

 

The Bad

If Colombia were scintillating, Poland were about as uninspiring as a bowl of lukewarm porridge.

Robert Lewandowski did his best to make things happen but he was a ridiculously isolated figure and his teammates were devoid of quality. The defeat has knocked Poland out of the World Cup and they will not be missed on this showing.

A word of negativity about Panama, too, who attempted to kick lumps out of England and showed very little sportsmanship. It was difficult to feel remotely sorry for them taking such a hiding.

 

The Needless Hype

PARIS, FRANCE - Tuesday, June 13, 2017: England's manager Gareth Southgate during an international friendly match against France at the Stade de France. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So, this is going to be England’s year after all, right?

All of a sudden, two wins in a row against very mediocre opposition have seen the hype of old return, which is not helpful in the slightest.

Part of the charm behind this England side has been the low expectations, but now that they are being rated higher, it will make the inevitable fall more painful.

This is a refreshingly vibrant Three Lions side who deserve real praise for their opening two performances, but they are yet to be tested properly.

If they beat Belgium on Thursday, then we might be able to talk about them as tournament dark horses.

In fairness, there is nobody to be scared of on current evidence, which is the kind of sentence that makes me just as bad as everyone else!

 

Monday’s matches

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Egypt's Mohamed Salah during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group A match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Monday sees the final round of group matches begin, with the two games in each group being played simultaneously.

In Group A, Mohamed Salah‘s Egypt play a dead rubber against Saudi Arabia and Luis Suarez’s Uruguay take on hosts Russia as they battle for top spot.

Then in the evening, Iran must avoid defeat to Portugal to have any chance of progressing to the second round and Spain also face Morroco.

Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt (Group A) – 3pm – ITV
Prediction: 0-1

Uruguay vs. Russia (Group A) – 3pm – ITV
Prediction: 1-1

Iran vs. Portugal (Group B) – 7pm – BBC
Prediction: 0-2

Spain vs. Morocco (Group B) – 7pm – BBC
Prediction: 2-1

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