The final round of group games began like this – Mohamed Salah scored his second goal of the World Cup but Egypt ended with defeat by Saudi Arabia at Volgograd Arena. The Liverpool forward gave Egypt the lead with a brilliant lob over keeper Yasser Al-Mosailem in the 22nd minute. Egypt’s Essam El Hadary, 45, became the oldest player to feature at a World Cup and saved Fahad Al Muwallad’s penalty. However, he could not stop Salman Al Faraj’s spot-kick and was beaten again by Salem Al Dawsari with seconds left.
Russia’s impressive start to the World Cup ended as they had a man sent off and were easily defeated by Uruguay, whose victory means they top Group A. Uruguay will go on to face Portugal in the last 16, while hosts Russia play Spain. They went behind in their final group match after only 10 minutes when Luis Suarez drilled in a clever low free-kick. It got worse for Stanislav Cherchesov’s side when a Diego Laxalt effort from 25 yards was deflected in by Denis Cheryshev, leaving his keeper Igor Akifneev stranded and in the position of having conceded three goals at the tournament without making a save. Akinfeev did then come out to block a Rodrigo Bentancur chance, with Roman Zobnin just scrambling the rebound clear of Edinson Cavani, before Igor Smolnikov picked up a second yellow card and was sent off 35 minutes into his World Cup debut.
Portugal progressed to the World Cup knockout stage after drawing with Iran in a game full of VAR controversy. Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty for Portugal and was shown a yellow card after a lengthy VAR review for a possible red card. Ricardo Quaresma had put Portugal in front with a sensational goal at the end of the first half. Iran scored a late penalty, given after another video review, and almost snatched a winner in stoppage time. Iago Aspas scored a stoppage-time equaliser – with the aid of VAR – as Spain scraped an unconvincing draw with Morocco to top Group B and secure a World Cup last-16 tie against hosts Russia.
Youssef En-Nesyri – who plays in Spain for Malaga – looked to have won it for Herve Renard’s side when he powered in a superb header from fellow substitute Faycal Fajr’s corner. But Aspas flicked in Dani Carvajal’s low cross to make it 2-2, with referee Ravshan Irmatov initially disallowing the goal before overturning the decision. Spain won the group on goals scored as Portugal were held to a 1-1 draw by Iran – but had a tough night as they extended their unbeaten run to 23 games. A dreadful mix-up between Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos had allowed Khalid Boutaib to stride through and give Morocco a surprise 14th-minute lead. Peru recorded their first win at a World Cup finals since 1978 as they beat Australia in the last match of the tournament for both sides. The South Americans went ahead with a fine, low 15-yard volley from Andre Carrillo & Peru captain Paolo Guerrero, sealed the victory when he spun and shot into the far corner.
Denmark joined France in the last 16 of the World Cup after playing out the first goalless draw of the tournament, which was greeted by boos at the final whistle. Iceland failed in their attempt to reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time as Croatia secured a late win to top Group D on maximum points. Alfred Finnbogason and Birkir Bjarnason both went close before the interval in Rostov-on-Don but Milan Badelj stylishly slammed home for Croatia after the break. That forced Iceland to chase the game and, after Sverrir Ingason hit the bar, Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a penalty to level following Dejan Lovren’s handball. Marcos Rojo scored a fine late volley to send Argentina through to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup with a dramatic victory over Nigeria in St Petersburg. It was a result they scarcely deserved after a poor second-half showing, epitomised by the Javier Mascherano error that allowed Victor Moses to equalise with a penalty.
Brazil avoided a shock result that had earlier seen Germany knocked out of the World Cup by defeating Serbia to finish top of Group E and book a last-16 tie against Mexico. Paulinho (36′minutes) & Thiago Silva (68′minutes) scored the goals. Switzerland set up a World Cup last-16 tie with Sweden after a draw with Costa Rica that featured a bizarre late penalty drama. Dzemaili (31′minutes) & Drmic (88′minutes) scores for Switzerland while Costa Rica saw goals from Waston (56′minutes) & Sommer (90’+3minutes og). Defending champions Germany have been eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage following defeat by South Korea, in one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history. The four-time winners crashed out in ignominious fashion – conceding twice in injury time as they pressed for the goal which would have sent them through.
In an astonishing and enthralling end to the match, Kim Young-gwon’s 92nd-minute goal – which was initially ruled out for offside before being awarded after a video assistant referee decision – left Germany on the brink of elimination. Worse was to come for the world’s number one ranked side, however, when deep into stoppage time and appearing increasingly desperate, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer lost possession in the opponents’ half. Ju Se-jong launched it forward where Son Heung-min tapped into an empty net to score the second. Sweden propelled themselves into the World Cup knockout stage with a handsome victory over Mexico that qualified them as Group F winners and condemned Germany to early elimination. Ludwig Augustinsson fired Sweden ahead five minutes after the break when a Viktor Claesson mis-hit inadvertently found him free at the far post, before Andreas Granqvist smashed home a penalty 12 minutes later following Hector Moreno’s trip on Marcus Berg.
England will face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup after a spectacular strike by Adnan Januzaj ensured Belgium finished top of Group G. A second-half strike from Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri ensured Tunisia ended their World Cup Group G campaign with a victory, as Panama finished bottom. The north African side, who had 14 chances, fell a goal behind when Jose Luis Rodriguez’s effort deflected in off Yassine Meriah. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef equalised when he tapped home Khazri’s low ball. The provider of that goal then scored his second of the tournament when he fired home Oussama Haddadi’s cross.
Japan reached the last 16 of the World Cup by having a better disciplinary record than Senegal – after losing to Poland in their final Group H game. The match finished in farcical fashion, with both sides happy to play the ball around at the back for much of the final quarter. Akira Nishino’s side finished with the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded as Senegal, but were shown only four yellow cards during the group stage to the African side’s six. Yerry Mina’s second-half header sent Colombia into a last-16 tie with England at the World Cup at the expense of Senegal, who lost out to Japan having received more yellow cards.