Friday, July 6, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 : QF Predictions - Brazil vs Belgium

In the second match of the evening, world wide favourites Brazil take on Red Devils Belgium at Kazan Arena, which has witnessed heavyweights, Argentina & Germany exit in this edition's major upsets.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams in which Belgium won the first one, a friendly match in 1963 & since then Brazil has always crossed the line successfully.
the Win Predictability Meter predicts a 45% chance to win, while Belgium are shown getting 27% chance. Brazil coach Tite would certainly keep in mind that Belgian defence leaked four goals against the likes of Tunisia & Japan earlier in their games.
Belgian fans would be hoping that their team carry the good form, which saw them win all their group matches before surviving a scare against Japan, when they came back from 0-2 down to win the match dramatically in the stoppage time. The team will bank on their 'Golden Generation' players of Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Kompany & others, as coach Roberto Martinez plots the game.
Their likely line could be a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Courtois in goal, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Meunier in defence, while, De Bruyne, Witsel, Chadli in midfiled & Fellaini, Lukaku & Hazard upfront.
Brazil on the other hand, seem to be peaking in time, having conceded just one goal & the defence looking very solid, while the midfield is controlling the game well for the forwards to strike for the goals. Coach Tite would most probably go with a 4-3-3 formation, with Alisson in goal, Fargner, Thiago Silva, Miranda & Marcelo(coming back from an injury) in defence, while, Paulinho, Fernandinho(in place of suspended Casemeiro), Coutinho man the all important midfield & Willian, Jesus & Neymar run for the goals.
This should a very entertaining game, & though Belgiums are touted as the 'dark horse' of this tournament, one would expect Brazil to win this contest, given the depth of the line up & the bench strength, along with such illustrious history behind them.

FIFA World Cup 2018 : QF Predictions - Uruguay vs France

The QF of this FIFA World Cup, starts with a serious humdinger, an absolute classic battle between Latin American giant, Uruguay against the flavour of European football, France at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Both teams have been exceptionally good till now in the tournament & are both definite favourites for the title clash. It will be a clash of Uruguay's rock solid defence led by Captain Diego Godin & Giminez, that has conceded just one goal till now, against a free flowing attacking line up of France, comprising of Kylian Mbappe & Greizmann.
Uruguay's worst fears seem to be coming true, with in form striker Cavani, most likely to miss the tie, due to a knee injury. They would be hoping for replacement Stuani to combine with Suarez for the goal scoring prowess. On the other side, France would be riding the form of teenage sensation Mbappe to strike hard into the Uruguayan defence.
The Win Probability Meter predicts France a whopping 47% chance, while Uruguay gets a 23% chance. Interestingly though, France has won just one of their previous eight meetings against Uruguay, & this should give the Latin Americans something to take hope from.
The expected line up for Uruguay may be - Muslera in goal; with Giminez, Godin, Caceres & Bentancur providing solidity in defence; while Nandez, Torreira, Vecino & Laxalt keep the midfield well functional, as Suarez & Stuani work on the forward line.
France may well field, Lloris in goal with Pavard, Varane, Umtiti & Hernandez in defence; while Pogba, Tolisso, Kante manage the midfiled; & Greizmann, Giroud & Mbappe work on the forward line.

At this stage & on paper, France does look ahead in terms of team formation & speed, however, I believe, Uruguay does have the fire power to upset the Europeans, if Suarez can conjure up an early goal - in any case, we all look forward to a mouth watering contest.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - England vs Columbia

In my pre match analysis, I had quoted boldly that there might be an upset in store, & Columbia almost scripted that upset against favourites England, before bowing out in a penalty shoot out.
The match was quite even between the two teams, & in the first half the ball stayed mostly in the middle, with England, though having more possession, failed to dominate. Columbia, in absence of the injured Rodriguez, missed his game making & spreading capabilities, but gritted it out against the more fancied opponents.
In the second half, England Captain Harry Kane, managed to draw the referee's attention to 'a not so serious foul' & earn a penalty, which he converted easily to take his tally to six & lead the goalscorer's chart for now, as England seemed well set to retain the 1-0 lead till the end. However, well into injury time, off a Cuadrado corner, Yerry Mina towered above others to head the ball in, for an equaliser, & push the game into extra time. The Columbians, looked the nippier side to me, though they missed a finisher throughout the game. With penalty shoot out coming into play, it was England's time to sweat & worry, as their record has been dismal up till now. Their agony went a notch up, when Columbian keeper Ospina blocked Jordon Henderson's kick to get his country the vital lead. However, the joy was shortlived, as Mateus Uribe's rasping shot for Columbia next, hit the cross bar & came out, wasting the opportunity & then, England keeper Pickford blocked the next Columbian shot from Bacca. In the final kick for England, Eric Dier, cooly placed the ball into the left corner, & England had scraped through for a win, by the skin of their teeth.
Columbia lost out on a great opportunity to upset the rather shaky England, especially after dragging the game into penalties.
England, now face Sweden in the QF. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - Sweden vs Switzerland

As expected, the match between Sweden & Switzerland lacked bite & skills, as physical prowess & long ball lobs were the predominant action on display.
A more disciplined & resilient Sweden went past with a 1-0 win, thanks to a 66th minute own goal by defender, Akanji of Switzerland. In a counter attack of sorts, midfielder Emil Forsberg cranked an innocuous shot at the goal from the edge of the box, which took a huge deflection off defender Manuel Akanji & wrong footed goalkeeper Yann Sommer, to enter the net.
Outside of this movement against the run of play, the game was very dour, & physical & lacked excitement of a knockout game. Both sides were poor in their finishing often blasting the ball past target, from within the box - it was frustrating to watch both sides employing physical strength rather than skills to control the game. Sweden had the better of the exchanges, while Switzerland, which played so well against Brazil, looked a spent force.
Sweden moved into the QF for the first time since 1994, with this win. For Switzerland, it was another loss at the knockout stages, as they go back with a lot of disappointment.
Sweden now face the winner of England & Columbia in the next match, & they will have to improve a whole lot, especially in the attacking zone to move any further. 

FIFA World Cup - Round fo 16 - Predictions for day 4

7) Sweden lock horns with Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium today evening for a place in the last 8 of this tournament. Both teams are meeting for the first time in a major tournament like this & the win predictability meter shows Sweden with 32% chance & their Swiss rivals at 36% chance, which makes it pretty even for results at this stage. The game may well turn out to be a dour & physical challenge of nerves & converting miserly openings, failing which, going into extra time & even penalty shoot out for a result.
With the exit of Spain in the bottom half, both the teams have a realistic opportunity of making it to the finals, if they win this tie. Both the teams have suspension issues & will miss some crucial players for today. However, as per many suggestions, the likely playing eleven for Sweden could be, Olsen in the goal, with Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Claesson, Svensson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Berg & Tiovonen.
The Swiss battle eleven could be Sommer in the goal, with Lang, Djourou, Akanji, Rodriguez, Xhaka, Behrami, Dzemaili, Shaqiri, Drmic & Zuber.
While Sweden come into this game with momentum after thrashing Mexico 3-0, the Swiss machinery would also be in confidence after drawing with Brazil in the group stages. However Switzerland will sorely miss their captain & central defender, Stephan Lichtsteiner & Schar, both out with suspensions.

8) In the last of the round of 16 matches, much fancied England take on a resurgent Columbia at the Spartak Stadium. England have a better record against their Latin American rivals having faced five times earlier, with an unbeaten record till now & the win predictability meter also shows the Three Lions at 46% chance, while Columbia clocks a 24% chance. Coach Gareth Southgate's English eleven were fluent in the group stages, before losing the tie to Belgium, in what is largely rumoured to be a tactics to open a potential freeway to the finals. Columbians, on the other hand have a huge injury concern revolving around their star James Rodriguez, the Golden Boot award winner in the previous World Cup. Coach Jose Pekerman would be hoping for his star to recover in time & boost his team's chances for an unlikely victory.
The expected line ups could be, England - Pickford in the goal with Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Alli, Henderson, Lingard, Young, Sterling & captain Kane.
Columbia - Ospina in the goal, with Arias, Davinson, Sanchez, Mina, Mojica, Uribe, Carlos, Sanchez, Cuadrado, Quintero, Rodriguez & captain Falcao.
While most of the experts would tip England to win easily, with a superior bench strength, I would not rule out another upset, as Columbians may just find their touch to go past an overconfident English eleven. 

FIFA World Cup : Round of 16 - Belgium vs Japan

In a pulsating game of football, red devils Belgium, overcame the spirited Asian Samurai Japan 3-2, to reach the quarter-finals. Belgium became the first side the recover from a two goal deficit in a World Cup knock out match, since Germany beat England 3-2 at Mexico in 1970.
Belgium had come into this tournament, touted as the 'dark horse', with a team bulging with talent, naming them as 'the Golden Generation' of players - almost everyone expected them to steamroll past minnows Japan, who had benefited from the first ever fair play rules to sneak into the knock out stage. But the game started in even keel, as Japan defended stubbornly against a swarming bunch of Belgian red jerseys & also looked for the occasional counter raids. After a barren first half, it was Japan who opened the account early after the break.  Off a defensive lapse by Vertonghen, failing to cut out a Shibasaki through ball, midfielder Haraguchi latched on & drove into the far corner past goalkeeper Courtois, 1-0. Belgium looked stunned, at this reversal, & the Japanese Samurai took absolute advantage of this & Takashi Inui doubled the lead within another four minutes. Kagawa collected the ball at the edge of the box & poked it to Inui, who thundered past a hapless Courtois into the bottom right hand corner, 2-0. The much fancied Belgium, now staring at a possible upset exit, & with nothing to lose from here, started to work back on recovery. Coach Roberto Martinez, playing 3-4-2-1 formation, made double substitutions, with towering Fellaini coming in for Mertens & Nacer Chadli coming in for Carrasco - this proved to be a tactical masterpiece.
First Vertonghen came up with a looping header that floated past the Japanese keeper Kawashima into the net & brought the distraught Belgians right back into the game. Minutes later, Fellaini rose above his diminutive opponents to unleash a powerful header off a delectable cross from Hazard, to make it 2-2. This time it was Japanese Coach Akira Nishino's turn to make a tactical move, & he too instructed a double change, bringing in Yamaguchi in place of Shibasaki & veteran Keisuke Honda in place of Haraguchi.
The game in the last ten minutes fluctuated wild with tension, as the ball raced from one end to the other, with both teams pressing hard for victory. Courtois stitched two beautiful saves to deny Japan, & then in stoppage time, initiated a counter attack, by laying the ball to De Bruyne, who cleared the midfield before passing onto Meunier to his right. Menuier in turn sent in a beautiful cross to the burly striker Lukaku, who essayed a cool dummy by allowing the ball to roll through his legs onto the path of an unmarked Chadli for a simple winning tap into the net. The distraught Japanese unit, unable to comprehend what transpired over the last few seconds, looked in agony, as the red hot Belgians tasted ecstasy.
It was a fantastic game of football, worth every minute, & the Japanese can go home, with their head held high.
Belgium, now face Brazil, in the QF, in what can be the defining game of this World Cup.

Monday, July 2, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - Brazil vs Mexico

In an exciting match between the two Latin American countries at the Samara Stadium, Brazil prevailed over Mexico 2-0 to coast into the QF of this World Cup.
In one of the oldest rivalries in football, the two teams met for the 41st time in history & 5th time in World Cup. Mexico had started their campaign this time, by causing one of the biggest upsets, in defeating current World Champions, Germany, which earned them the status of 'giant killers'. However, the gritty El Tri Mexicans, playing a familiar 4-3-3 formation, could not quite conjure up the same game plan against the men in yellow. Despite dominating the proceedings for the first 20-25 minutes of the game, & creating a few half chances in the opponents box, Mexico never really threatened the defensive core of Brazil, who defended doggedly, as their midfield gradually took over the controls. After a barren first half, it was a more purposeful Brazil, with Neymar, Willian, Coutinho & Jesus combining well & slicing through the Mexican defence with relative ease. In the 51st minute, Neymar played a lovely wall with Willian, who surged into the left through the defenders & drove across the face of the goal over the outstretched palms of goalkeeper Ochoa, as an onrushing Neymar stabbed the ball into the net, 1-0. The Selecao contingent across the stadium erupted in joy, as Neymar ran to the sidelines to celebrate the goal, with his teammates.
Brazil kept up the pressure & dominated the proceedings thereafter, as the tiring Mexicans ran their heart out across the turf in search of an equaliser. In the final minutes of the game, Neymar once again burst into the Mexican defence & fired a shot that was partially parried by the goalkeeper, but a chasing Roberto Firmino, who had just come in place of Coutinho, tapped the ball in gleefully to seal the fate of the game, 2-0. It was heartbreak for Mexico, as they failed yet again to cross the round of 16, in a World Cup. For Brazil, dependable midfielder Casemero, will miss the next match owing to yellow card, causing some problems for Coach Tite's formations.
For all its attacking traditions over the years, this Brazilian team, under the inventive Coach Tite, has a well galvanised restrain, that keeps them in check throughout the game. They never seem to cut loose, after scoring a goal, & prefer to stay back & defend grimly, with everyone chipping in, while slowing the game. They wait to control & then make sudden bursts into the opponents box, catching them napping to score. There has to be special mention of Mexican goalkeeper, Ochoa, who made multiple brilliant saves today to keep his side in the contest, but in the end, it was the brilliance of Samba Football that prevailed.
Brazil, now await the winners of Belgium & Japan in the QF.

FIFA World Cup - Round of 16 - Predictions for Day 3

5) Brazil take on mercurial Mexico at Samara Arena, in the round of 16. Mexico got off to a very strong start by stunning favourite Germany 1-0, in their first game of Group F, & then posting a solid win over resolute South Korea, before getting steamrolled by Sweden 3-0 in the last game. However, Germany exited to a shock 0-2 defeat to South Korea, in their last game, to allow Mexico to sneak into the round of 16.
However, win probability meter gives Brazil a thumping 65% chance, while Mexico gets 12% chance of creating an upset. The two teams have met 40 times previously with Brazil winning 23 times & Mexico winning 10 times. In World Cup, they have met four times till now, with Brazil winning three of them & one ending in a draw. Brazil has reached the QF stage every time since 1990.
Probable line up for Mexico is expected to be the ever reliable Ochoa under the bars; while Salcedo, Hugo Ayala, Alvarez & Gallardo will man the defence; Herrera, Lozano, Captain Guardado, Layun & Vela would manage the midfield & Javier Chicharito Hernandes would stay upfront. They would sorely miss the services of experienced & reliable centre back Hector Moreno, out with two yellow cards. Coach Carlos Osorio would be hoping that his creaky defence is able to hold fort against the marauding Selecao forward line.
Brazil will be missing the experience of injured Marcelo, substitute though Filipe Luis seems to have settled quite well with the playing eleven. Coach Tite does have some injury issues, but he will most probably go with the tried & tested line up of Alisson under the bar, with Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda & Filipe Luis at the back; while Paulinho, Casemiro, & Coutinho will roam the midfield; & Neymar, Jesus & Willian as forwards. The bench has enough reserves to cover up for any exigencies.
Brazil, will see this game as one they should win. The forward line has enough firepower & is not dependent on one Neymar, while the defence looks solid as of now.

6) Belgium will be against minnows Japan, at Rostov Arena, in the second game of the evening. Belgium come to this match, with a perfect three win slate in the Group stages, notching up emphatic wins against Tunisia & Panama, before overcoming England, in a match where both teams fielded second string players. Japan on the other hand entered round of 16, by nudging out Senegal through fair play rules, something that has happened for the first time in World Cup. On the win probability meter, Belgium enjoy a resounding 70% chance to win, while Japan are far far behind with just 10% chance.
Belgium would probably go with Thibaut Courtois in goal; with Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany (coming back from an injury), Toby Alderweireld, & Witsel in defence; & De Bruyne, Carrasco, Meunier & Mertens in midfield; while in form Lukaku & Eden Hazard storm ahead for goals.
Japan would probably field, Eiji Kawashima in goal; Hiroki Sakai, Yoshida, Gen Shoji, & Nagatomo at the back; Makoto Hasebe, Shibasaki, Haraguchi & Kagawa in midfield & Takashi Inui & Osako upfront.
On paper, Belgium, touted by many as the 'dark horse' of the tournament, should make merry of this match & win comfortably. However, this World Cup has already seen too many upsets, & the Coach of this European outfit, Roberto Martinez, would certainly play with guarded caution.

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - Croatia vs Denmark

In the second match of the evening, after the upset exit of Spain, it was expected that Croatia will prevail quite easily over Denmark. The match exploded to life, as the Danes slit through the Croatian defence within two minutes of start to score the fastest goal of the tournament, as Jorgensen poked the ball beneath the diving keeper Subasic, from a goal mouth scuffle off Delaney. However, Croatia were right back with an equaliser, as striker Mandzukic made the most of a botched clearance to put the ball into the net, as the stadium erupted at the electric pace of the game. Both teams, locked 1-1 within the first 5 minutes, thereafter continued to test each other, as the game petered to a dull, clinical spectacle. Typical European football, that laid emphasis on power & physical resilience. Full time & then extra time did not yield any result, though Croatia could not capitalise on earning a penalty in the 116th minute. Kasper Schmeichel blocked the Luca Modric shot to take the game into penalty shoot out - the 2nd of the evening & also the tournament. 

The shoot outs were low on quality & heavy on nerves for obvious reasons. Watched by his father, Peter, from the stands, Kasper Schmeichel saved another two Croatian shots, but that was not enough for his country, as the Danes messed up their shooting prowess to waste three shots, that were blocked by Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. In the end Rakitic scored from the last shot, to take Croatia into the QF, where they play hosts Russia, in what is expected to be another absorbing European spectacle. Denmark go back home, brooding over the lost opportunities they had.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - Spain vs Russia

In another massive upset, host Russia buried title favourites Spain in a penalty shoot out, at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. Almost everyone had thought & predicted, that the Russians had done credibly enough to have reached the round 16, but were surely at the end of the road against former World champion, Spain.
But Coach Cherchesov had drilled self belief into his boys, who sweated it out for a full 120 minutes,  getting full throated support form the galleries, under pouring rain. Spain played possession football as they ever do, & Russia did the chasing for most parts of the game, after conceding an early own goal by defender Sergei Ignashevich in a goalmouth melee. Spain playing the waiting game, passing relentlessly in the midfield & Russia chasing, the game was an eyesore, when, in the 40th minute, Russia earned a corner. Samedov sent in the cross & Dzyuba headed onto the flailing hands of Gerard Pique, as the referee blew the whistle to the dreaded spot. The crowd went wild in celebrations, as Dzyuba buried the ball past de Gea to equalise. 
The goal instilled a belief within the Russians, that they may actually conjure a victory, as the Spanish armada, launched waves of attack. However, the the bite was missing, as the tiki taka brand of possession rolled around the midfield & Russian box, without any positive outcome. The resilient Russians held on, as the game drifted boringly till end of regulation time & for the first time in this World Cup, extra time came into play. With scores remaining unchanged, came the Penalty shoot outs, & suddenly the hosts were certainly looking more confident. 
Russia converted four kicks successfully past an under confident Spanish keeper de Gea, while the Russian keeper, Igor Akinfeev blocked Spain's third & fifth attempts by Koke & Aspas. the mighty Spanish armada had got stuck in the Russian minefield, as a 78 thousand strong crowd went frenzy in celebrations. The home team had given birth to multiple heroes - Akinfeev, the goalkeeper who made those two spectacular saves, Dzyuba, who created & then converted the penalty to level the scores in the 1st half, the scorers from the penalty kicks, et all. This is the first time, Russia have reached the QF, since the break up of USSR. They now await the winners of Croatia vs Denmark. 
Spain, go home, absolutely heartbroken. Were they too complacent, or were they lacking in newer ideas to score, or was tiki taka losing its sheen, or was in internal conflict between players ??? - many stories will emerge, but this will stay as one of the biggest upsets of this World Cup. 
La Rojas have failed in their Russian test, as another sublime player of football, trudges back home.
Its Andres Iniesta - Spain, who has to exit after Toni Kroos - Germany, Leo Messi - Argentina & Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal - & its only round of 16 !!! 

FIFA World Cup 2018 - Round of 16 - Predictions for Day 2

3) Spain vs Russia : In this game, at the Luzhniki Stadium, the possibilities are stacked heavily against hosts Russia. Spain are unbeaten in their last 23 games, the longest current run amongst all 32 teams in this World Cup. Since the break up of Soviet Union, Russia have never beaten Spain. On win probability meter, Spain has an overwhelming 63% chance, while Russia enjoy 13% chance. Spain's campaign began in chaos, as Coach Lopetegui was sacked, two days before their opening game & replaced by Fernando Hierro, who has successfully guided the La Rojas into knockout stage, but the performance has been far from convincing, especially with their goalkeeper David de Gea, leaking goals. Their expected line up may still be, de Gea in goal; with Carvajal, Pique, Capt Sergio Ramos & Jordi Alba in defence, while Busquets, David Silva, Isco & Thiago man the midfield, as Iniesta assists Diego Costa to look for goals - a fantastic list of names on paper. The reserve bench is also full of riches, with Nacho, Saul, Lucas Vazquez, Koke, Asensio, Aspas, all itching to get a go in the field. Coach Hierro has admitted concerns at lack of goals, & is also preparing for penalty shoot outs, lining up probable players for that - David Silva, Diego Costa, Isco, Busquets & Iniesta !!
Russia's campaign got off to a dream start with 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia & then a 3-0 win against Egypt, before getting derailed in their last game 0-3 against a marauding Uruguay. The likes of Cheryshev with three goals already, Artem Dzyuba, Aleksandr Golovin have been quite impressive, but will they be able to breach a formidable Spanish defence is another question - they however would be keen to test de Gea with long rangers, considering, he has been butter fingers till now.
I expect Spain to prevail quite easily though, as they have a very strong midfield & forward line. However, they should not be complacent, & need to score, as their last line of defence is giving shivers, & if the Russians manage to take the game into penalty shoot outs, it will be the hosts who will have the edge.

4) Croatia vs Denmark : Both the teams meet at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. They are clashing for the sixth time, & till now the records are pretty even with both sides registering two wins each & a draw. Croatia have reached the knockout stages only one before, at France in 1998, when they finished third behind France & Brazil. They have won all their three group stage matches in this edition, & are looking in ominous form under a  spirited captain, Luca Modric. Denmark on the other hand, have held their ground against tough opponents like France & are considered to be tough opponents, who use their superior physique & speed to effect. The Win Probability Meter however, points at 50% chance for Croatia, while Denmark has 20% chances.
The expected line up for Croatia could be a 4-2-3-1 formation,  as Subasic mans the goal, with Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, & Strinic covering the defence, while, Rakitic, Badelj, Rebic, Modric & Perisic stand for the midfield & Mandzukic runs for the goals upfront.
Denmark most probably will line up, dependent Schmeichel under the bars, while, Larsen, Christensen, Kjaer, Dalsgaard, would be the defence, while Schone, Delaney, Sisto, Eriksen & Poulsen would marshal the midfield, as Jorgensen would run up for goals.
Eriksen, Sisto & Jorgensen are expected to cause some trouble to the Croatian defence, but, I expect a stronger Croatia to finally cross this Scandinavian hurdle without much flutter. They have enough artillery & skills to prevail.

FIFA World Cup 2018 : Round of 16 - Uruguay vs Portugal

On a night when two of the biggest superstars of today's football, bade goodbye to this edition of the FIFA World Cup, Latin American giants, Uruguay blanked out a feisty Portugal 2-1 to march into the quarterfinals.
This was the first time, that Uruguay have won four games on the trot, since 1930 & the team is gelling well as a unit. A fantastic combination between Suarez & Cavani early in the game, saw the Portugal defence split wide open & then Cavani rose to head in a pin point Suarez cross, 1-0. Put on the back foot, Ronaldo & co pushed up & created a few chances, but could not breach the tight Uruguay backline, with goalkeeper Muslera, keeping things under control. However, in the 55 minute, Portugal earned a corner, & Guerreiro whipped the ball into the box for Pepe to jump above his marker & head the ball in, levelling the score. Uruguay had finally conceded a goal in this World cup after 597 minutes of play. But the Latin Americans came back hard into the game again & within minutes regained the lead, as Cavani latched onto perfect pass from Bentancur, owing to a Portugal defensive lapse, & curled the ball beautifully into the net, past Rui Patricio.
Portugal dominated the possession, but their attacks lacked the necessary bit & Cristiano Ronaldo looked more and more frustrated, as minutes ticked away. He had a chance with a free kick, but could only hit the wall. Cavani, left the ground hobbling out in pain, as he was replaced by Stuani around the 75th minute. It was heartening & sporting to see Ronaldo come up to him & help him out - a striker empathising with another, despite being in opposite teams - the crowd cheered the gesture!!
Finally it was quits for Ronaldo, as Uruguay held on to the slender lead, & they now meet France in the QF.
This World Cup is looking like a deathbed of favourites, as first Germany, then Argentina & now Portugal crash out.