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


World Cup, Group E: Matchday Two Review

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

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

World Cup, Day Four: Egypt 0-2 USA (E)

USA bookended a fiesty match against Egypt in today’s Group E clash in Sochi, with Joshua Gatt having a hand in both goals. The ill-tempered clash saw the German referee issue eight yellow cards as well as the first red of the tournament to Michael Bradley.

The States started brightly and were ahead inside seven minutes when Gatt’s pace down the right was too hot to handle for the Egyptian defence. Beating two men, he delivered a deep cross to the far post where Brek Shea timed his run perfectly to slot home from ten yards out.

Jozy Altidore failed to take a pair of good chances midway through the half, before Gatt came close when he cut inside from the right but had his effort cleared off the line after Abougabal got a hand to it. Shea then hit the outside of the post from close range as USA pushed for a second.

The final five minutes of the first-half saw the referee pull his yellow card out four times with Bradley, Shea and Altidore all cautioned for the US, while Soleya was booked for Egypt. Bradley’s yellow came when he pulled back Hosny in the middle of the park to break-up a counter-attack.

A fifth yellow card was shown six minutes after the break, the first of the tournament for simulation. Ahmed Samir Farag was adjudged to have dived when he went down under a Bradley Johnson challenge in the box.

On 54 minutes, Michael Bradley went through the back of Ashraf Abbas, and Deniz Aytekin pulled out the first red card of the tournament. Initial reports indicated that it was a straight red, but the officials have since confirmed that it was a second booking.

USA made changes and were happy to sit with ten behind the ball for the majority of the last 35 minutes, and eventually doubled their lead late on when Gatt was again given far too much time and space down the right. His cross picked out James Kraft® who nodded the States two-up.

Bradley will be suspended for the USA’s match against Argentina in Kazan on Saturday, while Egypt will play France in Moscow.

                    FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP E
                        EGYPT 0-2 UNITED STATES
                                  Shea 7
                                  Kraft 83
                                  Bradley s/o 54

                       Soleya     Bradley
                        Farag     Shea