France and Argentina both know that avoiding defeat in their final group game will guarantee them both progression to the last sixteen after both won their Group E matches today. That leaves USA and Egypt looking for an upset on matchday three next week to snatch a top two spot away.
In Kazan, the USA made just the one change – an enforced one – from the side that beat Egypt, with Cagliari defender Sheanon Williams replacing the suspended Michael Bradley. Argentina became the first side in the tournament to name an unchanged starting XI for their second match after last week’s stalemate with France.
Goals on either side of the half-time won the match for Argentina who restricted their opponents today to just a single shot throughout the match. Lionel Messi had a hat-trick of chances in the opening 20 minutes, before Sergio Agüero tested Brad Guzan in the American goal with a volley that was well held.
A breakthrough finally came a minute before the break with Gonzalo Higuaín finding the back of the net from twelve yards out after being played in by Ocampos. The move started right at the far end when Argentina won a free-kick by their own corner flag, but the US defence kept backing-off and paid the price.
Just two and a half minutes after the interval, Argentina had doubled their lead and sealed the win. Messi stole the ball at a sloppy throw-in by the States and quickly worked the ball upfield. Higuain then turned provider for Lucas Ocampos with a lovely ball over the top, which Ocampos collected and smashed into the top corner.
Argentina finish their group campaign with a match against Egypt on Thursday at the Anji Arena in Makhachkala, while the USA play France at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP E (2) UNITED STATES 0-2 ARGENTINA Higuaín 44 Ocampos 48 Zuculini Ocampos
Chapeau! Briand… as a brace from 32-year old Lyon midfielder Jimmy Briand helped France eliminate Egypt in St Petersburg today, and put the French in control of Group E. Loïc Remy was the only change for France, in for Corentin Bernard, and he opened the scoring to get them on their way.
Yasser Khalifa® almost shocked the stadium when his 3rd minute effort from the edge of the box clipped the crossbar on its way over the bar, but France then took full control of the game and before the ten minute mark they were ahead. Benzema picked-out Griezmann on the left and his low cross was stabbed home by Loïc Remy.
Egypt lost Mo Salah to injury after 20 minutes after a challenge from Capoue, and with that any Egyptian spark seemed to dissipate. Five minutes before the break, France added a second after a period of pressure. Griezmann was again the provider, with a cross in from the left that Soliman couldn’t clear and Jimmy Briand tapped home from close range.
Ten minutes after the break Briand had his second and the French third when he collected a Capoue ball on the right flank, cut inside, held off his man and beat the Egyptian ‘keeper at his near post. France top the group and a draw with USA on Thursday will seal a spot in the last sixteen.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP E (2) FRANCE 3-0 EGYPT Rémy 9 Briand 41, 54 Griezmann Abbas Pajot