England are on the verge of a place in the last sixteen after coming from behind to beat Tunisia at the Anji Arena, with hosts Russia knowing a win next week should suffice to also progress after Honduras crumbled after taking the lead against them before going down to ten men.
After defeat in their opening game by England, Russia made three changes for their match against Tunisia in Moscow: Schennikov for Makeev in defence, Kontsedalov instead of the injured Glushakov in midfield, and Rausch up to replacing Kokorin.
Honduras meanwhile made two changes from the side that beat Tunisia last week: Romel Fuentes took David Diego’s spot in goal, and Luis Ramos came in to the back four for the injured Milton Gutíerrez.
A win for Honduras against the hosts would have seen them seal a spot in the Second Round, and they got off to a perfect start in the 7th minute when Anthony Lozano slammed home a low cross from Andy Najar after he chased a long-ball over the top. In control, it all went from on the 20 minute mark.
Ramos and Konstantin Rausch tangled 30 yards from the Honduran goal as the two players both went in with a strong block tackle, but as the ball ran free in Rausch’s favour, Luis Ramos dived in with a two-footed scissor challenge and was shown a straight red by the French referee.
That ended Honduras’s control of midfield, and after the game threatened to boil over with Dzagoev and García being booked, Russia found a deserved equaliser six minutes before the break through Pavel Mamaev when he controlled Parshivlyuk’s cross brilliantly before toe-poking past Fuentes.
Two more goals came midway through the second-half when Welliton turned home Kombarov’s low ball into the box, before Makeev pulled the ball back from the right to Dmitry Kombarov on the edge of the box who drilled a shot into the bottom corner.
Russia’s destiny isn’t in their own hands for their final group game against Tunisia, but should they avoid defeat and Honduras don’t beat England then they’ll progress.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D (2) RUSSIA 3-1 HONDURAS Mamaev 39 Lozano 8 Welliton 65 Ramos s/o 20 Kombarov 72 Dzagoev García Welliton
England had to come from behind in Makhachkala tonight to beat a stubborn Tunisia side and take a big step to the last sixteen, though will be without Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere for their final group game after both players picked up their second bookings of the tournament.
Two changes for England, with Ryan Shawcross coming in for Marc Linighan® which pushed Phil Jones into midfield, and Wilfried Zaha taking the place of Theo Walcott up front alongside captain Rooney. Tunisia made a pair of changes from the side who lost to Honduras: Zouhaeir Dhaouadi and Rebaï Wassim Chellouf® came in to the staring XI in place of Wahbi Khazri and Chaker Zouaghi.
Youssef Msakni stunned England inside ten minutes when he drove towards the England box, slipped the ball past the challenge of Phil Jones then slid a shot off the wet turf past the diving Joe Hart for his tenth international goal on his 60th cap.
The lead only lasted three minutes until Leighton Baines whipped in a free-kick from the right-hand side of the box after Abdennor’s foul on Rooney which looked suspiciously inside the area. Baines delivered to the far post where Stoke centre-back Ryan Shawcross powered home a header for the equaliser.
Rooney was booked on 27 minutes when he came through the back of Ben Messaoud, and after being cautioned in the win over Russia, he’ll miss the final group game against Honduras on Wednesday.
England took the lead on the half-hour when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross towards Zaha was only cleared as far as Jones by Benalouane. Jones nodded the ball back into the box to Wilfried Zaha twelve yards out who swivelled and slotted home for 2-1.
The Three Lions dominated after the break and when Wayne Rooney converted Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ball in towards the six-yard box, the game was won.
There was to be one sour note right at the end of the game when Jack Wilshere was shown a yellow card in the final minute after a tangle with Khaled Korbi, when replays show the Tunisia man – already booked himself – went down under no contact whatsoever. Unfortunately, with no look at VAR, the booking rules Wilshere out of the Honduras clash.
As long as England avoid a three-goal defeat on Wednesday, they’ll meet a team from Group C in the Second Round. Tunisia will meet Russia hoping for results to go their way in order to sneak in to the top two.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D (2) TUNISIA 1-3 ENGLAND Msakni 10 Shawcross 13 Zaha 31 Rooney 73 Korbi Rooney Jones Wilshere