Explaining the Final Matches of the World Cup Group Stage



It’s almost fitting the final round of group stage matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup begin today, June 25th. This day will mark the 36th anniversary since one of the great scandals in World Cup history that eventually changed the tournament for the better.

On June 25, 1982, in Gijón, Spain, West Germany took on Austria in their final group stage match of the 1982 World Cup played in Spain. The day prior, Algeria and Chile (who shared Group 2 with West Germany and Austria) played their final group match, a 3-2 victory for Algeria that put them in position to qualify for the next round. The issue was, West Germany and Austria knew the exact result they needed for both sides to advance and leave Algeria on the outside looking in.

A West Germany victory by two goals or less, meant both sides advanced to the next round. After ten minutes of play, West Germany took a 1-0 lead and jumped to the top of Group 2 for the time being. After the opening goal, knowing full well both sides were in a position to advance, both West Germany and Austria stopped trying. For the next 80 minutes, the teams simply passed the balls among themselves until the final whistle blew. It amounted to essentially fixing the game.

El Molinón, site of the “Disgrace in Gijón”

Cries of match fixing went up immediately but an investigation determined neither side broke any rules and were allowed to continue their tournament. The infamous match earned the title of “Disgrace of Gijón” or Anschluss, which carries a much darker historical context.

Issues of match fixing plagued the 1978 World Cup and this just piled on the embarrassment for FIFA. Beginning with the 1986 World Cup in 1986, FIFA instituted a new rule that all final matches of group stage play for each group would be contested concurrently. This meant the matches would be playing at the same time, thus preventing collusion between two sides to stage the outcome of a match. All four teams in a group would have to play their final match without the knowledge of the happenings in the other match.

Jumping ahead to present day, the busiest days of the 2018 FIFA World Cup taking place in Russia are about to begin. Between June 25th and June 28th, the final group stage matches will be contested to determine who moves on to the Round of 16 and who will be heading home. During those four days, four separate group stage matches will be played each day, beginning with Group A and Group B on Monday.

Every day at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, two matches will be going on at the same time and both matches will be teams from the same group. This is all to prevent another “Disgrace in Gijón” and has proven an effective method since being implemented back in 1986.

Here’s what a typical daily schedule will look like for the final round of group play this week:

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Group C & D: Tuesday; Group E & F: Wednesday; Group G & H: Thursday

So, if you’re tuning into the World Cup this week and wondering why two matches are running at the same time after they have been staggered up this point, you can place the blame on West Germany and Austria for their bit of collusion that changed the World Cup forever. It can make watching all the matches a bit more difficult (having to flip between channels) but ultimately it makes for a better tournament in the long run.

World Cupdate: Hat Trick Harry

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: Sunday, June 24th

The final set of games for Match-day 2 of the group stage at the 2018 FIFA World Cup brought 14 goals across three games as two more teams booked spots in the Round of 16. Harry Kane helped lead England to a convincing win over Panama, Group H’s two surprise leaders played one of the best matches to date, and Colombia got back on track just in time.

Everything you could possibly need to know from Sunday’s action is all right here.

England 6-1 Panama

England fans can now breathe because The Three Lions are securely into the Round of 16 following a 6-1 thrashing of Panama on Sunday. Harry Kane scored a hat trick to claim the lead in for the Golden Boot and John Stones added a first-half brace to secure the win before halftime even arrived.

Panama never had a chance in this group but they will return home with a good feeling nonetheless. The World Cup debutants scored their first ever World Cup goal in the second half well after the game was out of reach.

This result means England and Belgium both qualify for the Round of 16 and will play a winner take all match for Group G supremacy on Thursday. While winning your group is fun, due to other circumstances and upsets, the second place team may be the real winner from this group. That remains to be seen.


  • John Stones | ENG (8′, 40′)
  • Harry Kane | ENG (22′ PEN, 45’+1′ PEN, 62′)
  • Jesse Lingard | ENG (36′)
  • Felipe Baloy | PAN (78′)


Japan 2-2 Senegal

Perhaps the most entertaining game of the day came between the two sides sharing the top spot in Group H. Senegal had plenty of chances to take a stranglehold on the group but Japan kept battling and erased two separate deficits to salvage a draw and split the points in a wild match.

Liverpool star Sadio Mané opened the scoring with his first career World Cup goal but Japan stalwart Keisuke Honda leveled the game in the 78th minute to seal the 2-2 scoreline.

Both Senegal and Japan remain level atop Group H with one round of matches to play. Who advances and who goes home will all be decided on Thursday.


  • Sadio Mané | SEN (11′)
  • Takashi Inui | JPN (34′)
  • Moussa Wagué | SEN (71′)
  • Keisuke Honda | JPN (78′)


Poland 0-3 Colombia

Everything that could go wrong for Poland has gone wrong through two group stage matches. Coming into the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Poland were among the highest scoring teams qualified for Russia and carried a Top 10 World Ranking. The scoring has gone dry (one goal in two games) and they look how we thought Russia would look.

Needing at least a draw to stay alive, Poland laid another egg and fell 3-0 to an equally desperate Colombia side. James Rodríguez returned to the starting lineup for Colombia and made a major impact with a gorgeous assist on Colombia’s opening goal. It proved more than enough as Poland fell apart and conceded twice more in the second half.

Colombia will now enter the final group stage match knowing they can advance with a victory over Senegal. Poland, on the other hand, has been eliminated from World Cup contention.


  • Yerry Mina | COL (40′)
  • Radamel Falcao | COL (70′)
  • Juan Cuadrado | COL (75′)


That’s a wrap for Match-day 2 of the group stage and six teams have already booked spots in the Round of 16 meaning there are still 10 spots to be claimed as Match-day 3 kicks off Monday.

Goals of the Day

Fourteen goals highlighted Sunday’s action but only a handful stood out as quality enough to make our daily list. Here is our best three from the finale of Match-day 2 of the group stage.

Jesse Lingard (England)

One of the prettiest goals you will see at this World Cup comes courtesy of Jesse Lingard with this beautiful bender from just outside the box against Panama. It was England’s third goal of five they scored in the first half.

Moussa Wagué (Senegal)

More for the passing than anything, Senegal took the lead in the second half over Japan with this strong finish from Wagué to cap off a brilliant passing sequence beginning with Sadio Mané leading to a simple flick to set up a streaking Wagué.

Felipe Baloy (Panama)

On the surface, this goal may not rock your senses but for Panama and its fans, it makes their journey to Russia worth every minute. Felipe Baloy will forever be a hero in his home country after neatly finishing for Panama’s first ever World Cup goal.

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

Group Update

England and Belgium are successfully through Group G with a match still to play to decide who comes out on top and they could not be separated by any less. Colombia’s victory over Poland coupled with Japan and Senegal playing to a draw means Group H will go down to the final match-day to decide who advances.

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Who is Moving on, Who is Going Home

As groups move through their second round of matches, the knockout bracket is starting to take shape. Here are the teams that have qualified for the Round of 16 and the teams that will be heading home.

Moving On

Group A: Russia and Egypt (seeding still TBD)

Group C: France

Group D: Croatia

Group G: England and Belgium (seeding still TBD)

Going Home

Group A: Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Group B: Morocco

Group C: Peru

Group E: Costa Rica

Group G: Panama and Tunisia

Group H: Poland

Here’s What’s Next: Monday, June 25th

Group stage play begins its final match-day on Monday with Group A and Group B in action. We already know Russia and Uruguay will be advancing out of Group A it just remains to be seen in what order. Russia simply needs a draw to win the group.

Over in Group B, three teams still have a shot at moving on. Portugal and Spain are tied atop the standings but Iran can wreck the party with an upset. There are many different scenarios that could play out on Monday.

Uruguay v. Russia (Group A)

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  • Time: 10:00 AM
  • Location: Samara Arena (Samara)
  • How to Watch: FOX

Scenarios for this game could not be much simpler. If Russia can win or draw, they will win Group A and play the Group B runner-up in the Round of 16. Should Uruguay emerge victorious, they will claim the top spot in Group A.

Saudi Arabia v. Egypt (Group A)

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  • Time: 10:00 AM
  • Location: Volgograd Arena (Volgograd)
  • How to Watch: FS1

Nothing but pride to play for between these two sides after they were both eliminated following their second matches last week. Leaving Russia with three points will be a major win for either side if they can find a way to win this match.

Spain v. Morocco (Group B)

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  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location:  Kaliningrad Stadium (Kaliningrad)
  • How to Watch: FS1

Morocco has already been eliminated from any further competition at the 2018 World Cup but that doesn’t mean they can’t still spoil the party. An upset over Spain will open the door for Iran to advance. Spain know what needs to be done to move on and a second straight crash out in the group stages would send them home with many questions to answer.

Iran v. Portugal (Group B)

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  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location: Mordovia Arena (Saransk)
  • How to Watch: FOX

Cristiano Ronaldo has carried Portugal through the first two games and it may come down to him once again if his side hopes to advance to the Round of 16. Iran played a strong game against Spain and have the look of a team who can easily spring an upset and find themselves in the knockout rounds should things go their way.

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 top goal scorer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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Via beIN Sports

For the first time since the very first day of the tournament, a player not named Cristiano Ronaldo sits on top of the Golden Boot Standings. England’s Harry Kane takes over the lead from Ronaldo following his hat-trick performance against Panama.

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

Ranking World Cup goals: June 24, 2018

Russia World Cup Logo

“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.

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

So, this Harry Kane guy is pretty OK. Another prolific day of scoring rolled through as 14 balls crossed the line. While only one match was compelling, the goals are piling up as teams gear up for their third match day.  As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:

June 24, 2018

No. 14 – Harry Kane (1) – England vs. Panama

This is the year of the penalty kick. Harry Kane netted two of those goals on Sunday. This was first.

No. 13 – Harry Kane (2) – England vs. Panama

This is the year of the penalty kick. Harry Kane netted two of those goals on Sunday. This was second.

No. 12 – Takashi Inui – Japan vs. Senegal

A long through ball opened the build-up to this goal as Yuto Nagatomo controlled and set the ball on a platter for Takashi Inui in the 18. After that, it was a curvy little shot that crept just inside the post and equalized for Japan.

No. 11 – Yerry Mina – Colombia vs. Poland

James Rodriguez with the pass. Yerry Mina with the header. Colombia up 1-0. In a match featuring two desperate sides, this goal served to make Poland’s situation incredibly dire in the second half. The Colombians made sure to capitalize later.

No. 10 – Sadio Mane – Senegal vs. Japan

It’s cool to have help at times. Youssouf Sabaly’s initial try was punched away – double-fisted, even – by Japan’s Eiji Kawashima … Right to Sadio Mane, who bumped the ball into the net for the first goal of a wildly fun contest sandwiched between two blowouts.

No. 9 – John Stones (1) – England vs. Panama

This was the goal that started England’s first-half layup line. The set-piece in the eighth minute concluded when John Stones stepped up and sent a header past a soon-to-be-overwhelmed Jaime Penedo.

No. 8 – Moussa Wague – Senegal vs. Japan

The goal itself was an impressive piece of striking, but the build-up was maybe a touch better. So, Moussa Wague did send a rocket over Eiji Kawashima to finish. But watch the spin by Youssouf Sabaly before a tiny flick from Mbaye Niang located Wague, who did the rest.

No. 7 – John Stones (2) – England vs. Panama

If there was a Golden Head award at the end of the tournament, John Stones is making his case for it. With the ball acting like a pinball in the 18, a carom off Panamanian keeper Jaime Penedo located Stones, who bonked the ball just under the crossbar and put a fourth goal on the board for the Three Lions.

No. 6 – Jesse Lingard – England vs. Panama

This little give-and-go ditty began with a Panamanian turnover – caused by Jesse Lingard – began a snazzy little sequence with Lingard passing to Raheem Sterling, who sent the ball right back to Lingard. It was then Lingard who sent a whistler into the net, giving England a 3-0 lead and all but assuring a blowout was eminent.

No. 5 – Felipe Baloy – Panama vs. England

This little slider in the 78th minute did nothing to affect the outcome of Sunday’s match, but did everything for a nation experiencing the World Cup for the first time. The free kick from Panama’s Ricardo Avila was sent network by a sliding Felipe Baloy, who will go down in history as the first man to score a goal for Panama in the World Cup.

No. 4 –  Juan Cuadrado – Colombia vs. Poland

We’ve been without big runners leading to goals in this tournament. Juan Cuadrado would like to remind you that they’re still awesome. After receiving a pass, Cuadrado raced past two Polish defenders and pushed a shot to the lower right of the shooter. It was a pleasant cherry-on-top marker, not only for the match but the day itself.

No. 3 – Harry Kane (3) – England vs. Panama

This goal might have belonged to Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a world where Harry Kane wasn’t magically in the 18 to inadvertently deflect Loftus-Cheek’s shot into the net. Kane seriously had no clue that the ball was coming to him, but his boot did.

No. 2 – Keisuke Honda – Japan vs. Senegal

This goal fits nicely in the No. 2 spot as Keisuke Honda piloted this ball into a net big enough to drive a HR-V through. Honda, a civic treasure in Japanese soccer, took this crossing feed from Takashi Inui and got Japan a very important result with advancement still a big possibility.

No. 1 – Radamel Falcao – Colombia vs. Poland

This marker in the 70th minute was massive for Colombia – a pre-tournament dark horse of some – to erase the disappointment of an earlier loss to Japan. With the Colombians up 1-0, Juan Quintero sent a beautiful pass to Falcao, who put a shot past Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny.