Ranking World Cup goals: June 16, 2018

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“The Beautiful Game” is more than just goals, but we at The Bat Flip really like goals. This semi-ambitious project will take every goal scored during the 2018 World Cup and rank them daily, with a master list compiled at the end of the tournament.

A few things to consider when figuring your proper dosages of salt grains:

  • Importance of the goal may supersede beauty.
  • Penalty kicks will be considered on a case-to-case basis.
  • Shootout goals will only be ranked if they were the match-winners, or if some absurd act made the goal possible.

You should also take a look at Robbie’s World Cup Precap.

Now let’s rank some goals from Saturday’s match play:

Saturday’s matches may be best remembered for the goals that weren’t scored as opposed to those that found the net. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown toward No. 1, assembled as Sunday’s matches are getting started …

June 16, 2018

No. 8 – Mile Jedinak – Australia vs. France

This was what it was. A penalty-kick equalizer in the 62nd minute. A handball against France in the penalty area made it happen. Mile Jedinak made the French pay … Or at least sweat a bit.

No. 7 – Luka Mondric – Croatia vs. Nigeria

This helped Croatia seal three points against Nigeria as Luka Mondric skipped a try past Nigeria’s Francis Uzoho. Not much more beyond that and William Ekong’s hold Mario Mandzukic in the box that created the penalty.

No. 6 – Antoine Griezmann – France vs. Australia

Video Assisted Replay (VAR) gave this opportunity to France after a foul in the 18 eventually put Antoine Griezmann on the spot. It’s Griezmann, so the path to the penalty kick was cloudier than the result of the kick … A missile to the shooter’s top right. There was a bit of history behind it, being the first VAR-awarded penalty kick in World Cup history and all.

No. 5 – Sergio Aguero – Argentina vs. Iceland

After the initial entry, it was on Sergio Aguero to make this happen. He did. After his first touch, Aguero got just enough separation from Ragnar Sigurdsson to send a bullet past Hannes Halldorsson. At that point, it felt like Argentina was going to overwhelm Iceland … More on that in a bit.

No. 4 – Aziz Behich (own goal) – France vs. Australia

Paul Pogba’s strike was redirected by Aziz Behich and after connecting with the crossbar, barely crossed the line to give France a lead they would not surrender. There was some initial confusion with the French passively celebrating the goal until goal-line technology verified the goal.

No. 3 – Oghenekaro Etebo (own goal) – Croatia vs. Nigeria

Off a Croatian set piece, disaster struck for Nigeria as multiple headers led to the ball trickling off Oghenekaro Etebo and into the goal. Given how Croatia’s defenders handled Nigeria’s attack before and after the gaffe, Etebo’s own goal was pretty much a death sentence to Nigeria on this day.

No. 2 – Yussuf Yurary Poulsen – Denmark vs. Peru

A match as electric as this one was needed a goal like this. Christian Eriksen’s through-ball to Yussuf Yurary Poulsen allowed the Danes to finally break through as Poulsen’s one-dribble run led to a left-footed strike and an eventual big three points for Denmark.

No. 1 – Lionel Messi – Argentina vs. Iceland

Lionel Messi was able to win a penalty in the 63rd minute, putting him on the spot for a certain tiebreaker. A goal was all but a formality as Messi’s blessed left foot put the ball … RIGHT INTO THE PATH OF OF GOALKEEPER HANNES HALLDORSSON. Well … That wasn’t a goal at all, now was it?

No. 1 (Take 2) — Lionel Messi – Argentina vs. Iceland

Surely Lionel Messi would redeem himself in the 81st minute when a left-footed hammer from about 25 yards away wound up beating Hannes Halldorsson. Well, it did beat the Iceland goalkeeper, but it also sailed inches wide of the post, keeping the deadlock at 1 as Iceland continued to whether Argentina’s push. OK, there has to be a No. 1 somewhere.

No. 1 (Take 3) – Christian Cueva – Peru vs. Denmark

Christian Cueva was given a golden chance to put Peru on top just before halftime when VAR granted him a penalty. The stutter-step approach had done what it was supposed to do as Kasper Schmeichel guessed low, meaning all Cueva had to do was find a high spot in the net and certainly not over the  … OHMYGAWD, CHRISTIAN WHAT DID YOU DO?

No. 1 (Take 4) – Alfred Finnbogason – Iceland vs. Argentina

How the goal happened is insignificant in the grand scheme of things as first-time qualifier Iceland with a population of 334,252 in 2016, making it smaller than Cleveland (385,809 in 2016) forged a result with soccer royalty thanks to this goal. Iceland’s work against a very suspect Argentinian defense eventually led to Alfred Finnbogason putting a rebound across the line for the historic marker.

World Cupdate: Penalties on Penalties

Via @FIFAWorldCup

Welcome to your daily 2018 FIFA World Cup update, or World Cupdate, where we recap the past day’s proceedings from Russia while previewing what is still to come. These features will run every morning throughout the duration of the tournament and feature highlights, major news, and much more from Russia.

Here’s What Happened: Saturday, June 16th

Four games made of Saturday’s schedule for the third day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and all four had one thing in common. They all featured at least one penalty kick during the game. In total, five penalties were awarded on Saturday but only three were converted. A big save by Iceland preserved their first point in World Cup history and a bad miss by Peru cost them at least a share of the points against Denmark.

Successful penalties from France and Croatia helped their sides to a victory while Australia converted a penalty in their loss to the French.

Let’s take a quick look at how it all went down on Saturday at the 2018 World Cup.

France 2-1 Australia

Coming into the 2018 FIFA World Cup there was a ton of pressure on the French national team to deliver on soccer’s biggest stage. Loaded with talent at every position, France entered Russia as one of the top favorite to hoist the trophy in Russia. Following their opening game against Australia in Group C, France is still a favorite but there are a lot of questions that still need answered.

France and Australia played to a scoreless draw through 57 minutes of action but chaos soon ensued for both sides. Antoine Griezmann went down just inside the box on what looked like a clean tackle but the referee went to video review and determined there was a foul on the play resulting in a France penalty kick, Griezmann converted the penalty to put France ahead 1-0 following the first instance of video review being used in the World Cup.

That lead did not last long for the French as only four minutes later, Australia was awarded a penalty of their own following a handball by Samuel Umtiti. Australian captain Mile Jedinak converted his penalty with ease to even the scoreline at 1-1 in the 62nd minute.

After VAR assisted France on their first goal, they got a little more help from goal line technology on their second. A flick from Paul Pogba went over the head of the Australian keeper and careened off the cross bar down onto the goal line. French players pleaded for a goal and it was given when the ref was notified by the technology that the ball did in fact cross the goal line. France retook the lead 2-1 with ten minutes remaining and it was a lead they did not surrender.

A closer than expected match still ended with the expected result but France must now answer a lot of questions going forward following an uneven display against Australia.

Argentina 1-1 Iceland

Two years ago at Euro 2016, the Iceland national team burst onto the scene with a series of shocking upsets that saw them advance to the quarterfinal stage. That success at Euro 2016 helped propel Iceland through UEFA qualifying and into the World Cup to the first time.

Iceland, the smallest country (based on population) to ever qualify for a World Cup, played their first ever World Cup game against powerhouse Argentina led by Lionel Messi. Iceland earned a draw for their first World Cup points.

Argentina dominated possession all game but struggled to find the goals necessary to secure all three points. In the 19th minute, striker Sergio Agüero made a turn on the ball a rifled a shot into the top corner for a 1-0 Argentina advantage. Four minutes later the score was level once again following a goal by Alfred Finnbogason.

The score remained tied deep into the second half when Argentina was awarded a penalty after a player was hauled down in the box. Messi stepped in to take the penalty but his shot was stopped by Iceland keeper Hannes Halldórsson to keep the game tied. Messi had another look at goal later in the game but his shot sailed wide of the post.

When the final whistle blew, Iceland fans erupted with cheers while Argentina could only rue their missed opportunities.

Peru 0-1 Denmark

This is not Peru’s first World Cup appearance but a lot has chance since they were last in the tournament back in 1982. Playing their first World Cup game in 36 years, Peru came out blazing and Denmark responded with a fast paced game of their own.

Both sides traded chances in the first half but neither could find the score sheet. VAR made another appearance on Saturday when the system was used to award a penalty to Peru during injury time of the first half. Unfortunately, the ensuing penalty shot was sent over the bar and the game remained scoreless.

Denmark controlled the better of possession for most of the game but they broke the deadlock on a counter-attack going against the run of play. Yussuf Yurary Poulsen received a pass and broke away from the Peru defense. Alone on goal, Poulsen struck the ball cleanly with his left foot into the back of the net for a 1-0 Denmark lead in the 59th minute.

Trailing 1-0, Peru put the pressure on the Danish backline in search of an equalizer. They were able to create good looks at goal but nothing could get past Kasper Schmeichel and Denmark walked away from their opening game with three points.

Croatia 2-0 Nigeria

Coming off the excitement of the Peru/Denmark match, Croatia and Nigeria had a lot to live up to. Sadly, the two sides could not generate the same excitement as the previous match but at least they both looked good.

At the 32 minute mark of the first half, Croatia jumped in front 1-0 but not from their own doing. From a corner, Croatia put a shot towards goal off a header but the ball careened off Nigerian midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo in front of goal and across the line for an own goal.

Things went from bad to worse for Nigeria in the second half as Croatia kept searching for a second goal. In the 71st minute the two goal advantage was achieved. Again off a corner, Nigeria committed an egregious foul in the box that awarded Croatia with a penalty. Star midfielder stepped up to take the penalty and easily converted for a 2-0 Croatia lead that stood for the rest of the game.

It was a double dose of good for Croatia as they secured all three points and took advantage of Argentina’s draw earlier in the day for an early advantage in Group D.

Goals of the Day

Not was many goals as Friday but some beauties were scores nonetheless across four games on Saturday. Here are our three best.

Alfred Finnbogason (Iceland)

If you score your country’s first ever World Cup goal and its against Argentina you automatically make our list. Finnbogason played opportunist and tapped in a loose ball to score the tying goal for his side.

Paul Pogba (France)

It was not an easy day for France but they were able to escape with three points against Australia thanks to this timely goal from Paul Pogba. Goal line technology shows to the ball crossed the line by the slimmest of margins but it all counts the same.

Yussuf Yurary Poulsen (Denmark)

An altogether crazy game between Denmark and Peru was decided on a counter-attacking goal off the left foot of Poulsen. Against the run of play, Poulsen received a wonderful touch pass from Christian Eriksen and finished with ease.

Check back tomorrow for more great goals from the 2018 World Cup.

Group Update

Four games on Saturday mean both Group C and Group D have completed their first round of group play. France and Denmark share the lead atop Group C with three points a piece and identical goal differential. Croatia’s dominating win against Nigeria gives them the early advantage in Group D.

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Groups A, B, C, and D have all completed their first round of group matches.

Here’s What’s Next: Sunday, June 17th

Sunday is a return to our normal group stage schedule with three games on the docket for Match-day 4 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. All four teams from Group E and two teams from Group F will begin their World Cup campaign. Defending champion Germany and pre-tournament favorite Brazil will be must watch television.

Costa Rica v. Serbia (Group E)

Via @AFP
  • Time: 8:00 AM
  • Location: Samara Arena (Samara)
  • How to Watch: FOX

A surprise run to the quarterfinals in the 2014 FIFA World Cup put Costa Rica on the map in international soccer. Another storybook run for the Ticos begins with advancing out of a very difficult Group E and that journey commences with an opening game against Serbia. The Serbs bring a deep and talented squad to Russia capable to a deep run of their own.

Germany v. Mexico (Group F)

Via @AFP
  • Time: 11:00 AM
  • Location: Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)
  • How to Watch: FS1

Spain and Portugal grabbed all the headlines but this matchup between Germany and Mexico could be a dandy as well. The Germans are the defending champions and looked primed for repeat while Mexico is hoping to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1986. Both sides are playing well entering the tournament and we should see a competitive gave between the two.

Brazil v. Switzerland (Group E)

Via @AFP
  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location: Rostov Arena (Rostov-on-Don)
  • How to Watch: FS1

Brazil were left beaten and embarrassed at the 2014 World Cup on their home soil following a 7-1 drubbing by the Germans. Four years on, Brazil are back on the world stage and ready for a return to glory. Switzerland have developed into a World Cup mainstay but don’t have the fire power to hang with the Brazilians. Their hopes of advancing will rely on their other two group games.

You can watch all these games live on the channels listed or streaming online at FoxSports.com with a cable sign in.

If highlights are more your style, check out @FOXSoccer on Twitter where goals and game recaps are posted throughout the day.

All game times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.

Golden Boot Standings

The Golden Boot Award goes to the stop goal scorer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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Keep up to date on everything World Cup right here on “The Bat Flip” where we will be posting our daily World Cupdate to recap what went on and preview what’s still to come in Russia.