World Cup: Argentina and France Progress (E)

Argentina took the Group E top spot on goal difference after a comprehensive win at the Anji Arena, seeing them through to the last sixteen without conceding a goal while Egypt go home without having scored. France are also safely through after triumphing in the winner-takes-all game against the United States.

Wholesale changes for eliminated Egypt as they made five changes to their starting XI from the heavy defeat to France. Two changes for Argentina with Matías Silvestre and Francisco Fidalgo® coming in for Franco Zuculini and the injured Gonzalo Higuaín.

Egypt offered little throughout the 90 minutes in Makhachkala and the only surprise was that it took the Argentine attack until the 26th minute to take the lead. Paulo Gamboa® rocketed a 20-yarder into the top corner after a corner was only half-cleared. First senior international goal for the youngster and it clearly meant the world to him.

Another corner directly provided the second goal when Christian Fernández® beat his man at the near post to head home Lionel Messi’s corner in first-half stoppage time. Messi picked-up a knock during the first-half and despite finishing the match, rumours are that he may not be fully fit for their second round tie.

Lucas Ocampos scored an excellent solo third goal that saw them leapfrog France on goal different to win Group E with quarter of an hour remaining. Picking up Macros Rojo’s ball on halfway on the left flank, he cut inside, leaving Ahmed Ali for dead and drilled a low shot home as the Egyptian defence parted in front of him.

Zuculini came on as a 75th minute substitute to replace Sergio Agüero, and within ten minutes picked up a booking which will rule him out of Argentina’s second round tie. That’ll be against the runners-up from Group F in Novgorod on Monday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP E (3)
                        EGYPT 0-3 ARGENTINA
                                  Gamboa 26
                                  Fernández 45+1
                                  Ocampos 74

                       Gaafar     Rojo

The USA needed a win over France, and made one change from Saturday’s defeat by Argentina as Michael Bradley returned to the side after suspension to replace Sheanon Williams. France remained unchanged with Loïc Remy keeping Corentin Bernard out of the starting XI.

Michael Bradley, back in the side after his dismissal in the opening game, gave away a penalty after eighteen minutes as he was caught-out by Antoine Greizmann’s trickery and he felled the Liverpool man in the box. Up-stepped Loïc Remy to place the spot-kick past the reach of Brad Guzan.

Remy was stretched off shortly after as he collapsed after stretching himself in a challenge. Early reports suggest a groin tear and that’s his world cup over and he’ll face a race for fitness to make the start of the domestic season in about six weeks time.

Within three minutes of the change, later the Turkish referee ensured parity was restored as Mapou Yanga Mbiwa clattered Brek Shea in the box as the two jumped to meet Joshua Gatt’s free-kick delivery in to the area. Brek Shea took it himself and levelled, wrong-footing Steve Mandanda.

Corentin Bernard® – on for Remy – fired the winner six minutes into the second-half when a pass was deflected right to his feet off Jozy Altidore, and he turned on a sixpence and sent a low drive past Guzan from the edge of the box for his third senior international goal. The 20-year old is set to join Schalke, and big things are expected of him.

Shea came close to an equaliser with twelve minutes to play as Mandanda had to be at full-stretch to tip his free-kick over the bar after the FC Dallas midfielder’s delivery bent around the five-man wall from 25 yards. France will face the Group F winners in Samara on Sunday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP E (3)
                UNITED STATES 1-2 FRANCE
                   Shea 25(p)     Rémy 19(p)
                                  Bernard 51