The Buck Stops Here! Episode 24

Re-watch Episode 23.

FMM18 World Cup Day 31

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the third place playoff between Belgium and South Korea.

It’s the final day of the tournament and there’s one game; the biggest game in world football. Re-read how Portugal and Italy reached the World Cup Final.

World Cup Final: Portugal V Italy

The current European champions take on the four-time winners on a warm, windy day in Moscow. The last three World Cup Finals have required extra time to settle the argument, with the previous two seeing no goals scored in normal time. The Final follows the pattern of the last two, with neither side able to find a goal. Ten minutes into extra time, there’s a goal; Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo puts the European champions twenty minutes away from their first ever World Cup and the completion of a European/World Cup double. Italy go in desperate search of an equaliser and get one with eight minutes to go as Andrea Belotti pulls the Italians level. The seconds and minutes tick away and it’s going to penalties, something that the Italians have fond memories of from the 2006 World Cup Final. 120 minutes are on the clock and the referee is checking his watch. Italy have one final chance to win the game without requiring penalties and it falls to Belotti. He scores! In the final minute of extra time! Portuguese players slump to the floor, whilst the Italian team pile on to Belotti as the bench erupts. The game kicks off after fairly lengthy Italian celebrations, but Portugal have no chance to equalise and force penalties. Italy are champions of the world for the fifth time.

FMM18 World Cup Day 30

Read from the introduction.

The penultimate day of the tournament sees one game; re-read how Belgium and South Korea ended up in the penultimate match.

Third Place Playoff – Belgium V South Korea

Both sides need to pick themselves up after a two-goal Semi Final loss. The Third Placed Playoff is often described as the game that no-one want to be in and for Vincent Kompany, he’s only involved for three minutes before injury forces him to leave the field. Belgium shrug off the loss of Kompany and take the lead through Yannick Carrasco with 26 minutes on the clock. Belgium don’t add to their lead in the first half, but maintain it going into the break. They double the lead within a minute of the second half kicking off; Carrasco adds his and Belgium’s second. The situation is looking desperate for South Korea, but looks to become impossible in the 74th minute when Mousa Dembele adds Belgium’s third goal. Thomas Vermaelen is sent off in the 75th minute in another blow to the Belgium defence, but the ten men see out the victory to claim third place.

Find out what happens on Day 31.

FMM18 World Cup Day 29

Read from the introduction.

There are no games today, so lets look at how Italy reached the final.

Group E: V Australia, 5-0 (Andrea Belotti (3), Claudio Marchisio, Leonardo Bonucci)
Group E: V Chile, 4-0 (Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Belotti, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Petagna)
Group E: V Northern Ireland, 1-1 (Marco Veratti)
Last 16: V England, 1-0 (Andrea Petagna)
Quarter Final: V Argentina, 1-0 (Andrea Belotti)
Semi Final: V South Korea, 3-1 (Andrea Belotti, Roberto Gagliardini, Alessio Romagnoli)

Find out what happens on Day 30.

FMM18 World Cup Day 28

Read from the introduction.

There are no games today, so lets take a look at how Portugal have reached the final:

Group C: V Ghana, 5-0 (Andre Silva (3), Joao Mario, Andre Gomes)
Group C: V USA, 1-0 (Andre Silva)
Group C: V Ukraine, 0-5
Last 16: V Colombia, 1-0 AET (Andre Silva)
Quarter Final: V Iceland, 3-1 (William Carvalho, Raphael Guerreiro, Adrien Silva)
Semi Final: V Belgium, 2-0 (Joao Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo)

Find out what happens on Day 29.

FMM18 World Cup Day 27

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the Quarter Final matches for South Korea and Italy.

Semi Final – South Korea V Italy

18th June 2002, Daejeon World Cup Stadium, the Last 16 – South Korea knock out Italy in a controversial match. Now there’s a chance for Italy to gain revenge and secure a place in the World Cup Final. For South Korea, there’s the chance to appear in their first World Cup Final. Portugal await the victors. There’s no slow start to this Semi Final as Seung-Woo Lee puts South Korea into a sixth minute lead. Surely, albeit less controversially, history won’t repeat itself? The South Korean lead lasts until the 24th minute, when Andrea Belotti pulls Italy level. The scores stay level until the 38th minute, when a Roberto Gagliardini goal gives Italy the lead. Two minutes before the break, Kyung-Min Ryu is replaced by South Korea due to injury. The second half is less action-packed, with only one further goal being added; Alessio Romagnoli gives Italy a two-goal cushion in the 76th minute. There’s no way back for South Korea, especially after Heung-Min Son is dismissed in the 83rd minute.

Find out what happens on Day 28.

FMM18 World Cup Day 26

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the Quarter Final matches for Portugal and Belgium.

Semi Final – Portugal V Belgium

The opening Semi Final pits a team full of attacking players in Belgium against a team in Portugal with arguably Europe’s best ever player in Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a big game for both nations, with neither having ever reached the final before. Nerves at this stage of the tournament are to be expected and it’s a relatively slow start. Danilo Pereira limps off injured for Portugal in the 39th minute, forcing them to make a change. The change instantly results in a goal – Joao Mario breaks the deadlock in the 40th minute to put Portugal into the lead. As the game progresses, Belgium’s urgency becomes greater. With ten minutes to go, Ronaldo ensures that the game is wrapped up for Portugal and that they will get the chance to play for the biggest prize in football.

Find out what happens on Day 27.

FMM18 World Cup Day 25

Read from the introduction.

There’s still one day to go before the first Semi Final. The Semi Final matches are:

Portugal V Belgium
South Korea V Italy

Who will make the final and who will lift the trophy?

Find out what happens on Day 26.

FMM18 World Cup Day 24

Read from the introduction.

There are no matches today, but plenty of thoughts following the Quarter Final matches. Although France and Argentina were knocked out, losing to Belgium and Italy respectively doesn’t make it too much of a shock. Portugal beating Iceland would have been expected by most people, even though Iceland have made pulling off shocks a habit. A Quarter Final of South Korea against Ukraine was surprising, with South Korea’s progression giving them a chance to better their 2002 tournament.

Find out what happens on Day 25.

FMM18 World Cup Day 23

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the Last 16 games for the teams.

Quarter Final – France V Belgium

Two of Europe’s most star-studded attacking sides meet in the Quarter Final. France beat Northern Ireland 1-0, whilst Belgium required penalties to get past Uruguay. France take an early lead through Ousmane Dembele in the 13th lead. It takes Belgium 21 minutes to draw level, with Romelu Lukaku the man who scores. The teams enter the dressing rooms at half time with the score still at 1-1. Despite a wealth of attacking talent, the second half produces no goals. It takes one minute into extra time for there to be another goal; Radja Nainggolan puts Belgium into the lead in the 91st minute. France have 29 minutes to find an equaliser and extra time produces another goal in the 113th minute. The goal is scored by Lukaku and Belgium progress at the expense of France.

Quarter Final – Italy V Argentina

A Quarter Final clash between two countries with six World Cups between them. Argentina knocked out Germany in the Last 16, winning 2-0. 1-0 was good enough for Italy to progress at England’s expense. Argentina are spoilt with attacking talent, whilst Italy’s defence is as strong as ever. The score is level at half time, with neither team having been able to force a breakthrough. With extra time looking the most likely outcome, Andrea Belotti puts Italy into the lead in the 83rd minute. It’s enough for Italy’s campaign to continue as Argentina bow out.

Find out what happens on Day 24.

FMM18 World Cup Day 22

Read from the introduction.

Recap on the previous day of games.

Re-read how the teams won their Last 16 matches.

Quarter Final – South Korea V Ukraine

It would have been a brave person who bet on the opening Quarter Final match being between South Korea and Ukraine. Victory over Denmark secured Ukraine’s place, whilst South Korea pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by beating Brazil. Hyun-Jun Kang goes off injured for the South Koreans in the 33rd minute. If it has an impact on them, it’s not a negative one – Sung-Yeung Ki puts them into the lead five minutes later, a lead they take into the break. They keep the lead throughout the second half, but are unable to add to it, so Ukraine are always in the game but unable to find a goal.

Quarter Final – Iceland V Portugal

Iceland were surprise Quarter Finalists at Euro 2016, whilst Portugal were surprise winners. The two meet in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup after Portugal beat Colombia and Iceland beat Russia in the Last 16. Birkir Bjarnason puts Iceland into the lead in the 18th minute. The score remains 1-0 at half time and Iceland are half way to claiming another prized scalp. Things don’t get any better for Portugal at the start of the second half as Fabio Coentrao leaves through injury in the 46th minute. Three minutes later, the scores are level; William Carvalho pulls Portugal level. Andre Silva leaves in the 52nd minute, joining Coentrao on the injury list. The third goal of the game comes in the 66th minute and it goes the way of… Portugal. Raphael Guerreiro is the man who puts Portugal into the lead. Atli Hrafn Andrason becomes the third player of the game to be forced off via injury in the 73rd minute as Iceland suffer this time. With time running out and Iceland throwing bodies forward in search of an equaliser, Adrien Silva puts the tie beyond doubt with Portugal’s third in the 86th minute.

Find out what happens on Day 23.

FMM18 World Cup Day 21

Read from the introduction.

Another day with no football. The Quarter Finals start tomorrow. The matches comprising the Quarter Finals are:

South Korea V Ukraine
Iceland V Portugal
France V Belgium
Italy V Argentina

It looks as though the top half of the draw is easier than the bottom half.

Read what happens on Day 22.

FMM18 World Cup Day 20

Read from the introduction.

It’s the first day without football and a chance to reflect on what has happened, particularly in the Last 16. The two favourites, Brazil and Germany, have exited the tournament. Germany’s exit at the hands of Argentina was perhaps understandable as two heavyweight clashed, but Brazil’s exit to South Korea was surprising to put it mildly. The tournament now seems wide open with the two favourites out, so who will go on to win the World Cup?

Find out what happens on Day 21.

FMM18 World Cup Day 19

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final games in Groups G and H.

Last 16 – Germany V Argentina

The final day of games in the Last 16 kicks off with a repeat of the 2014 final. And the 1990 final. And the 1986 final. As well as quarter finals in 2006 and 2010. So they’re familiar foes, albeit not this early in the tournament (excluding the group stage meetings in 1958 and 1966). The motivation for Argentina is avenging their loss four years ago (but can anything make up for losing the World Cup Final?), whilst for Germany it’s becoming the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962. Things go Argentina’s way in the first half and they take a 1-0 lead into the dressing rooms courtesy of a Sergio Aguero strike in the 26th minute. The second goal is always the crucial one and Lucas Biglia adds it with 20 minutes to go. Germany lose Tom Zeise to injury in the 73rd minute as they bow out surprisingly early.

Last 16 – Belgium V Uruguay

The final Last 16 match also sees a clash between a European and South American team, with Group G winners Uruguay taking on Group H runners-up Belgium. The Last 16 matches have been close, low-scoring affairs and this one proves no exception. Abel Hernandez is forced off with injury in the 33rd minute for Uruguay, but neither side is able to force a breakthrough before half time. Or full time. It takes 103 minutes for the scoring to be opened – Thomas Meunier being the man to find the back of the net and put Belgium into the lead. The lead lasts for 11 minutes before Diego Godin levels for Uruguay, taking the game all the way to penalty kicks. Belgium are immaculate from the spot and progress, winning the shootout 5-2.

Find out what happens on Day 20.

FMM18 World Cup Day 18

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final matches in Groups E and F.

Last 16 – Northern Ireland V France

France’s topping of Group F sees them take on Northern Ireland in the Last 16. France go into the game as strong favourites, but the game is goalless at half time. Northern Ireland are able to repel French attacks until the 69th minute, when Ousmane Dembele fires the French into the lead. France are unable to add more goals, but it doesn’t matter as Northern Ireland are unable to get themselves back into the game. Whilst France were expected to win by more, they’ve scored enough to ensure they progress.

Last 16 – Italy V England

Italy topped Group E and take on England. Gary Lineker welcomes viewers by asking if England can get ‘pasta’ Italy and progress to the Quarter Finals. Italy suffer a blow in the 5th minute when Marco Veratti goes off injured. England suffer a blow of their own in the 14th minute when Raheem Sterling also heads to the dressing room early due to injury. With two minutes to go until half time, Andrea Petagna puts the Italians into the lead. Italy take the lead into half time, but they will have to defend their lead with only 10 men in the second half due to Giorgio Chiellini getting sent off one minute before half time. A man advantage gives England a great chance of progressing to the Quarter Finals, but if there’s one team that can defend a one-goal lead successfully, it’s typically Italy. And so it proves, as England are unable to score against the Italians.

Find out what happens on Day 19.

FMM18 World Cup Day 17

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final matches in Group C and D.

Last 16 – Portugal V Colombia

After topping Group D, Colombia find themselves taking on Portugal in the Last 16. The first half is relatively quiet, although Portugal lose Joao Moutinho to injury in the 39th minute. The second half also produces no goals, so it’s the first game of the tournament to go to extra time. Andre Silva provides the breakthrough in the 100th minute and it’s enough for Portugal to progress through to the Quarter Finals.

Last 16 – Denmark V Ukraine

Topping Group C has resulted in Ukraine finding themselves against Denmark for a place in the Quarter Finals. Denys Garmash puts the Ukrainians into the lead into the 40th minute. It’s enough to not only give them the lead at half time, but also enough to see them through to the Quarter Finals as Denmark are unable to find a way past the Ukrainian defence.

Find out what happens on Day 18.

FMM18 World Cup Day 16

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final round of matches in Groups A and B.

Last 16 – Iceland V Russia

Russia’s reward for topping Group A is to take on World Cup debutants Iceland in the Last 16. If Russia had any preconceptions about this being an easy route to the Quarter Finals, Iceland correct them through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson putting the Icelandic team in the lead in the 13th minute. It appears to act as a wake up call to Russia, who hit back almost immediately – Dmitry Poloz equalises in the 17th minute. The equalising goal doesn’t appear to discourage Iceland from their task and Hordur Magnusson puts Iceland back in the lead in the 26th minute. The score remains at 2-1 going into half time. As the second half progresses, Russia need to attack more to at least take the game into extra time. With sixteen minutes to go, Viktor Karl Heimisson is forced to go off injured. As with conceding an equalising goal earlier, Iceland remain focused on their task. Alexandr Kokorin goes off injured in the 86th minute as the hosts run out of ideas and exit the tournament and Iceland progress to the Quarter Finals like they did at Euro 2016.

Last 16 – South Korea V Brazil

After topping Group B as expected, Brazil find themselves against South Korea. Sung-Yeung Ki scores in the 9th minute to put the South Koreans into the lead, a situation that perhaps not many outside the South Korean camp would have thought likely. Their task is now very simple – prevent the Brazilians scoring for the next 81 minutes. The first step is to reach half time in the lead, which they manage to do. Three minutes into the second half, Brazil lose Bernard to injury. Brazil continue to look for the equaliser, but the South Korean defence is resolute and the five-time champions are surprisingly eliminated by the South Koreans in the biggest shock of the tournament so far.

Find out what happens on Day 17.

FMM18 World Cup Day 15

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the previous matches in Group G and Group H.

Group H – Japan V Belgium & Wales V Argentina

Going into the final round of matches, the table looks like:

Despite being second in the group, Belgium are arguably in the strongest position as they are taking on Japan, who are bottom of the group. However, Japan could still qualify with a win and if Argentina lose to Wales. Argentina could qualify with a point from their game against Wales, but need a win to be certain of progressing. A draw would be good enough for Wales to at least qualify from the group, but a loss could see them eliminated. So to sum the group up, it’s all to play for!

Belgium don’t want to leave anything to chance and Romelu Lukaku opens the scoring against Japan in the 10th minute. Three minutes later, Sergio Aguero puts Argentina into the lead against Wales. Back in the Japan V Belgium game, Vincent Kompany leaves the field in the 14th minute due to injury. Argentina, who know a win is the only way they can guarantee they progress, double their lead through Paulo Dybala in the 16th minute. Dybala adds his second (and Argentina’s third), one minute before half time, putting them firmly in control of the game and their destiny in the tournament. Meanwhile, Belgium take a 1-0 lead into the break over Japan. Welsh hopes depend on the Japanese scraping a narrow victory over Belgium, especially when their hopes of getting anything out of their match disappear in the 68th minute when Neil Taylor is sent off. Belgium are reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute when Divock Origi receives a red card, but the Japanese are unable to take advantage.

As would have been expected at the start of the World Cup, Argentina and Belgium progress from the group. However, it was not the easy passage expected and both required wins in their final game. Credit must go to Argentina for recovering well from their opening loss. Wales had given themselves a good chance heading into the final round of matches, but Argentina ultimately proved too strong. Japan’s failure to score made things impossible for them in a tough group.

Group G – Germany V Mexico & Uruguay V Romania

Going into the final round of matches, the group looks like:

With all four teams on three points, knockout football has arrived early for Mexico, Uruguay, Germany and Romania. Mexico and Uruguay are in the strongest positions as if they both draw their games, they will progress. Germany and Romania know they must win if they are to remain in the tournament. If Mexico can hold Germany, the holders will be going out in the group stages for the first time since 2002…

A draw is good enough for Uruguay and Luis Suarez does their chances of achieving at least a draw no harm by putting them into the lead against Romania in only the 2nd minute. Germany, who know they must win, take the lead against Mexico in the 7th minute through an Edmund Risse goal. Jose Giminez doubles Uruguay’s lead in the 22nd minute. Three minutes later, Nahitan Nandez’s red card offers Romania a potential way back against Uruguay. A draw is all that’s required by Mexico and Javier Hernandez is arguably the man most likely to draw them level, which makes his loss due to injury in the 36th minute a significant loss. Romania pull a goal back through Vasile Mogos in the 38th minute to keep their chances of progress alive. As the half time whistles are blown, Germany lead Mexico 1-0 and Uruguay are beating Romania 2-1, but Romania have a man advantage. Romania equalise in the 62nd minute through Florin Andone. It’s not enough to put them through as things stand, but they have 28 minutes to find another goal and also have an extra man. As time is running out, Romania throw more men forwards and they fall victim to the counter attack in the 87th minute when Edinson Cavani puts Uruguay back into the lead.

It was a tough group, but one that Germany would have expected to win; in the end, they narrowly qualified from it. They are joined by Uruguay, who recovered well from an opening loss to Germany. Despite having the best goal difference in the group (thanks to a big win over Romania), Mexico miss out on the Last 16 and a chance to qualify for their first Quarter-Final since 1986. Romania finished bottom of the group, but have provided the shock of the World Cup with their win over Germany.

Find out what happens on Day 16.

FMM18 World Cup Day 14

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the previous games in Group E and Group F.

Group E – Chile V Australia & Northern Ireland V Italy

Going into the final matches, the Group E table looks like:

Another group in which qualification all but looks certain. Only a good win for Chile and a big loss for Northern Ireland will see Chile pip Northern Ireland for qualification. Italy have qualified and a draw against Northern Ireland will see them top the table, with Northern Ireland joining them as qualifiers.

Chile know they need goals as well as Northern Ireland losing to Italy. The slim chance of qualification becomes slimmer in the 20th minute when Chris Ikonomidis puts Australia into the lead. Italy lose Claudio Marchisio to injury in the 37th minute as their game reaches half time at 0-0, whilst Australia take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room. Italy take the lead in the 51st minute through Marco Verratti, but with the score in the other game, it has no impact on the group and Northern Ireland’s chances of qualifying. Northern Ireland ensure that it will be impossible to miss out in the 61st minute when Craig Cathcart pulls them level. Two minutes after Northern Ireland have equalised, Brad Inman limps off for Australia as they try to hold on to their lead. They’re not successful; Marcelo Diaz levels for Chile in the 76th minute. Any hopes they have of going on a goal spree and qualifying if Italy take the lead is immediately extinguished as Pablo Hernandez sees red.

Italy have, as would have been expected, qualified from the group as winners. Second place was up for grabs and Northern Ireland were able to secure it, three points ahead of Chile who were arguably the favourites to secure the second qualifying spot. It was a World Cup to forget for Australia, who finished bottom of the group.

Group F – England V France & Ivory Coast V Iran

Going into the final round of matches, the table looks like:

A group in which qualification is in no doubt, with England and France having both won their opening games to progress to the Last 16 – all that remains to be settled is who qualifies as group winners. England are currently favourites as they are currently topping the table, so a draw will be enough for them to set up a Home Nations clash with Northern Ireland, whilst a loss to France will mean it will be Italy for England in the Last 16. The other game in the group gives Ivory Coast and Iran a chance to record a victory.

France and England are both aware that topping the group will mean avoiding Italy and France take the lead through Antoine Griezmann in the 28th minute; ten minutes later, Samuel Umtiti doubles the French lead. Assane Gnoukouri puts Ivory Coast into the lead in the 41st minute as they take a 1-0 lead into half time over Iran, whilst France keep their 2-0 lead over England. Eight minutes into the second half, Masoud Nasehi limps off injured for Iran. Seydou Doumbia adds a second goal for Ivory Coast in the 64th minute, before Wilfried Zaha ensures that Ivory Coast will record a victory with a goal in the 78th minute. One minute later, Raphael Varane puts France into a commanding 3-0 lead to ensure they will qualify as group winners.

The group has finished as was expected, with France impressively qualifying without conceding. England join them in progressing to the Last 16, although pre-match triumphalism has been toned down after a heavy final game defeat and satisfaction of qualifying and looking forward to the knockout stages replaces it. Ivory Coast finish third, but didn’t trouble the two qualifiers as much as they would have hoped. Iran finished bottom of a tough group.

Find out what happens on Day 15.

FMM18 World Cup Day 13

Read from the introduction.

Re-read yesterday’s action.

Recap on the previous games in Group C and Group D.

Group C – USA V Ghana & Ukraine V Portugal

Going into the final matches, the table looks like:

It’s a similar situation to Group A; Portugal are topping the group, but wins for Ghana and Ukraine could see them qualify at Portugal’s expense. Ukraine are in the stronger position out of Ukraine and Ghana, but Ukraine have to play the table-topping Portugal whilst Ghana play bottom side USA. However, Portugal’s big goal difference means they are unlikely to miss out on qualification without at least one (but more likely both) of Ghana and Ukraine recording a big win. A win for Portugal and USA could still see the Americans qualify though…

USA lose Erik Palmer-Brown to injury in the sixteenth minute. One minute later, Ukraine take the lead against Portugal to make Ghana’s task (or USA’s unlikely task) more difficult – Ivan Ordets is the scorer. Ghana’s task becomes more difficult in the 38th minute when USA take the lead through Danny Williams. On the stroke of half time, Andriy Yarmolenko doubles Ukraine’s lead. At half time, USA lead Ghana 1-0 and Ukraine lead Portugal 2-0 – it looks as though qualification from the group is all but settled. America lose Geoff Cameron to injury in the 51st minute, with Michael Bradley being forced to follow him off one minute later as USA complete their permitted substitutions with all substitutes replacing injured players. Ukraine hit a purple patch with three goals (Volodmyr Shepelev in the 61st and 69th minute and Andriy Yarmolenko in the 69th minute) in eight minutes, propelling them to the top of the table and putting Portugal’s qualification in some doubt if a sizeable win can be recorded by Ghana. USA double their lead in the 70th minute and are given a boost two minutes later when Bernand Mensah receives his marching orders. Ghana are able to pull a goal back in the 77th minute through Maxwell Acosty, but it’s too little too late.

Portugal have qualified from the group as runners-up after their sizeable loss against eventual winners Ukraine, whilst Ghana and USA were three points away from the two qualifiers.

Group D – Denmark V Colombia & South Africa V Saudi Arabia

Going into the final matches, the table looks like:

Denmark have qualified with a game to spare and only need a point against Colombia to finish as group winners. A point for Colombia will see them qualify, whilst a win will see them top the group. If Denmark can beat Colombia and Saudi Arabia can beat South Africa, Saudi Arabia could sneak into second spot if there’s a big result in either game.

Saudi Arabia’s job becomes more difficult in the 31st minute when Keletso Shipalane puts South Africa into the lead in 31st minute. Saudi Arabia’s job looks to become impossible in the 34th minute when Siphiwe Tshabalala doubles South Africa’s lead. In the other game, James Rodriguez limps off for Colombia in the 36th minute. The referee’s blow their whistles for half time with Denmark and Colombia drawing 0-0 and South Africa beating Saudi Arabia 2-0. Although Saudi Arabia need Denmark to beat Colombia if they are to have a chance of qualifying, they also need goals and to record a win. They start the second half well as Mohammed Al-Shalhoob pulls a goal back in the 48th minute. Colombia take the lead over Denmark on the hour through Juan Fernando Qunitero. News evidently filters through to the other game and South Africa add their third after 65 minutes through Thabo Dykman. With the question of who will qualify from the group surely beyond doubt, all focus is on the Danish game to see if they can find a way to top the group. Denmark’s quest receives a boost in the 77th minute when Fredy Guarin’s red card sees Colombia reduced to ten men. Luis Muriel is forced off injured in the 80th minute, but Denmark are unable to find an equalising goal.

Colombia and Denmark have secured qualification quite comfortably, which most neutrals would have expected. Saudi Arabia’s surprise draw in their opening match against Colombia gave them an outside chance of qualifying going into the final group games, but a loss to an already eliminated South Africa resulted in them finishing bottom of the group.

Find out what happens on Day 14.