World Cup: England Lose Man, Win Match

Group D: The Slovenian referee had a busy evening in Samara with nine yellows and one red issued as England beat Honduras to be the first side with three wins from three, while Russia scored the 100th goal of the tournament in their draw with Tunisia to see them safely into the second round. England will face Ghana on Sunday, and Russia will meet Italy.

Two enforced changes for England, as James Milner and Theo Walcott replaces Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney, both of whom were suspended from the win over Tunisia. Just the one change for Honduras with midfielder Mario Martínez in place of Luis Ramos who was sent-off against Russia.

England got off to a flyer in the first-ever meeting between the two sides as Chris Smalling headed home from Milner’s corner for his third goal for his country. A minute later Milner was the first player in the referee’s book with a crunching challenge on Johnny Palacios after he went in strong on Phil Jones.

The Three Lions pushed for a second but the Honduran defence held strong. The game was in danger of spilling over as the Central American side were flying into challenges as the win they needed to qualify started to look more an more unlikely. By half-time, referee Damir Skomir had given out five yellow cards, and two more quickly followed after the break.

With over half-hour to play Phil Jones, cautioned on the stroke of half-time, came through the back of Lozano and Skomir showed the sixth red card of the tournament.

England shut-up shop to preserve their 100% record, Honduras huffed and puffed but offered little going forwards. The win sets up a last sixteen match for England against Ghana which will be played in Moscow on Sunday.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D (3)
                      ENGLAND 1-0 HONDURAS
                  Smalling 11
               Jones s/off 59

                       Milner     Palacios
                        Jones     Espinoza
                  Huddlestone     Chávez
                                  Izaguirre


The hosts made two changes from last time out: in came Evgeny Makeev and Alexandr Kokorin for Georgy Schennikov and Konstantin Rausch. Goal difference was on their side, but couldn’t afford a slip-up against Tunisia who made just one change: Wahbi Khazri replacing Rebaï Chellouf®.

An opening half hour passed-by without much to trouble the commentators or excite the crowd, but with England already one-up in their match, Welliton scored his third of the tournament, and the 100th here in Russia this month when he drilled the hosts in front from 15 yards.

Tunisia threatened to spoil the party when they levelled midway through the second-half through Hamza Younes. Bedoui stayed onside to cross from the right towards Younes, but Zelao headed away. Chehoudi was first to react and he hit the loose ball back across the six-yard box where Younes had stayed for a perfect poacher’s finish.

That’s how it finished in Volgograd and Russia will now meet Euro 2016 champions Italy in the second round. They met in August last year in a 1-1 friendly draw, while Italy knocked Russia out of Euro 2016 two years ago with a 3-0 win in the last sixteen.

                  FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D (3)
                       RUSSIA 1-1 TUNISIA
                  Welliton 27     Younes 68
 
                       Makeev     Chermiti

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World Cup, Group D: Matchday Two Review

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

World Cup, Day Three: Honduras 1-0 Tunisia (D)

Honduras won their first-ever game at a World Cup with a solid defensive display in a tight game against Tunisia today in Rostov, with their all-time top goalscorer Jerry Bengtson firing home the only goal of the game early in the second half.

Honduras dominated the first-half, restricting Tunisia to just one wayward shot from distance over the course of 45 minutes while applying pressure themselves, though with little reward. Roger Espinoza came closest to breaking the stalemate in the 43rd minute when his 30 yard free-kick clipped the bar on its way over.

Just 85 seconds after the break, Honduras took the lead that they’d not lose. Andy Najar’s tenacity brought the ball forward from the middle where he found Anthony Lozano whose first-time through-ball was perfectly weighted for Bengtson to collect and slot past Mathlouthi.

Aymen Abennour’s thundering header for Tunisia hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down on the line before being belted clear by a sprinting Milton Gutiérrez® who injured himself colliding with the post and was carried off clutching his ribs.

Honduras weathered a brief Tunisian storm but never truly looked like conceding, with Jonny Palacios a rock at centre-back for the side ranked 52nd in the world. Honduras play Russia in Moscow on Saturday, while Tunisia face England on Saturday evening.


                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D
                     HONDURAS 1-0 TUNISIA
                  Bengtson 47

                     Palacios     Abdennour

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World Cup, Day Three: England 2-1 Russia (D)

England got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against the host nation in Novograd this afternoon, beating Russia 2-1 with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the heart of both goals, the first of which came with the first shot of the game.

The game was less than four minutes old when Oxlade-Chamberlain received the ball 30 yards out before taking the ball to the goal-line on the right-hand side of the box. His low cross in to the near post was met by captain Wayne Rooney who slotted England ahead.

Russia pressed for an immediate response and came close when Serges Deble’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Chris Smalling and bounced on top of the crossbar.

Midway through the half, Jack Wilshere muscled his way past the home defence but lifted his shot over Igor Akinfeev’s bar when he was one-on-one with the veteran ‘keeper.

England lost both Marc Linighan® and Theo Walcott to injury in the last ten minutes of the half. Linighan was caught late on his ankle by Deble, who was booked, and his World Cup looked over as he was stretchered off. Walcott landed awkwardly after a fair aerial battle, and replaced.

Wilfried Zaha was introduced and seven minutes after half-time, he shanked a shot wide after his neat footwork took him clean through, but Akinfeev narrowed the angle and the chance went begging.

Within two minutes England had a crucial second. Oxlade-Chamberlain was involved again, causing problems down the right. His delivery flashed across the face of goal for substitute James Milner to slot home at the far post.

Russia struck back in the 63rd minute when Welliton got on the end of a deep Kombarov free-kick from out wide. England stepped-up for the offside, all except Phil Jones who missed a clearing header and the Spartak striker had a simple finish beyond a wrong-footed Joe Hart.

The two sides cancelled each other out for the remaining half-hour and England collected the three points. They play Tunisia on Saturday, with Russia meeting Honduras.


                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP D
                      ENGLAND 2-1 RUSSIA
                     Rooney 4     Welliton 63
                    Milner 54

                       Rooney     Deble
                     Wilshere     Gadjibekov
                                  Parshivlyuk

World Cup Squads: England’s 23 Lions

As per popular request, we’re going to take a look at the 23-man England squad heading to the FIFA World Cup that begins this Friday in Russia. Ranked 9th in the world, England were drawn as the top seeds in Group D alongside the hosts, as well as Tunisia and Honduras. They’ll play their group games in that order, beginning on Sunday 17th.

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP SQUAD: ENGLAND

 MANAGER: Martin Jol
  RECORD: Played 20 Won 16 Drawn 2 Lost 2 For 45 Against 11

 GOALKEEPERS                    CLUB              CAPS   GOALS
  1. Joe Hart                   Manchester City    79      0
 13. Jack Butland               West Brom           0      0
 14. Alex Smithies              Everton             1      0

 DEFENDERS
  2. Nathaniel Clyne            West Ham            2      0
  3. Leighton Baines            Paris SG           71      1
  4. Ryan Shawcross             Stoke              41      1
  5. Ryan Bennett               Celtic              6      0
 12. Kyle Walker                Tottenham          57      1
 11. Ryan Bertrand              Southampton         6      0
 15. Phil Jones                 Manchester Utd     53      6
 16. Chris Smalling             Manchester Utd     54      2

 MIDFIELDERS
  6. Jack Wilshere              Arsenal            52      9
  7. James Milner               Everton            57      3
 10. Nathan Redmond             Burnley             6      0
 17. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain    Manchester City    61     15
 18. Jordan Henderson           Wigan              21      0
 19. Tom Huddlestone            Tottenham          53      3
 20. Marc Linighan®             West Ham            4      0
 22. Raheem Sterling            Swansea             0      0
 23. Stewart Downing            Sunderland         49      7

 STRIKERS
  8. Theo Walcott               Manchester Utd     74     14
  9. Wayne Rooney ©             Manchester Utd    132     74
 21. Wilfried Zaha              Newcastle           4      1

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