Arsenal 4 Vorskla Poltava 2

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal opened their Europa League Group E campaign with a comfortable win over Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava. Until Aubameyang’s opening goal it had been a laboured performance from the Gunners, who had struggled to break through well-drilled opponents. However, the Gabon striker – the club’s record £56m signing last January – changed the dynamics of the contest by steering Alex Iwobi’s pass into the bottom left corner after the visitors overcommitted in attack. It was only Aubameyang’s sixth touch of the game, and Arsenal’s first shot on target but it allowed them to cut loose after the break.

England forward Danny Welbeck doubled Arsenal’s lead three minutes after the interval with a header from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross. And as Unai Emery’s team surged forward, Aubameyang stroked his second goal of the night past visiting goalkeeper Bohdan Shust before substitute Mesut Ozil rounded off the scoring for the hosts. “I didn’t play in the Europa League last year and I am really happy to be back in this competition,” said Aubameyang. “We want to go to the final, of course – it is an objective and hopefully we will do well in our next games.”

At 4-0 the scoreline was cruel on Vorskla, who have had a mixed start in the Ukrainian Premier League after finishing third last term. They did, though, muster consolation goals via captain Vladimir Chesnakov’s left-footed shot from 18 yards and Vyacheslav Sharpar’s strike moments before the final whistle blew. There were opportunities for Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, Switzerland full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner and Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno – all three making their Arsenal starting debut.

Gazidis joins AC Milan; Venkatesham Is Arsenal’s New MD

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has resigned to join AC Milan, the Premier League club have announced. After almost 10 years in his current role, the executive will leave the north London side to take up a similar position in Italy. The 54-year-old will step down at the end of October, following a decade at Emirates Stadium, and take up the same role at Milan, who were recently taken over by American company Elliott Management, on December 1. Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham will head up football operations at Arsenal, taking up the head of football and managing director roles respectively.

Sanllehi, a former director of football at Barcelona, joined the Gunners as head of football relations in February, while Venkatesham is currently the club’s chief commercial officer. Gazidis headed up the interview process that led to Unai Emery’s appointment as head coach, succeeding long-serving manager Arsene Wenger. His overhaul of Arsenal’s structure, including the appointments of Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, arguably helped to herald the end of the Wenger era as a degree of power was wrestled away from the veteran Frenchman, and Gazidis has described his pending departure as “the hardest decision of my life”.

“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge,” he said in a statement on Arsenal’s official website. “This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, in whom I have enormous faith.

NewCastle United 1 Arsenal 2

Granit Xhaka’s excellent free-kick set Arsenal on their way to a third consecutive victory under Unai Emery as Newcastle remain without a Premier League win. Despite being frustrated in the first half, Xhaka opened the scoring for the Gunners with a long-range free-kick that flew past Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. As the visitors grew in confidence, Mesut Ozil met the rebound of Alexandre Lacazette’s blocked effort to double his side’s advantage and ensure Arsenal won consecutive away league games for the first time since May 2017. Ciaran Clark responded in stoppage time for the hosts, but Newcastle remain 18th in the table with just one win in their past 10 league games.

Rafael Benitez’s side remain on one point, equalling their worst return after five Premier League games – although they had much the better of the first-half chances as they pressed an Arsenal defence determined to build from the back. The early pressure forced errors, as keeper Petr Cech passed the ball out for a corner and defender Shkodran Mustafi’s stumble was indicative of an Arsenal back-line still trying to get comfortable with a new style of play under Emery. However, Arsenal returned the stronger side after the interval and scored twice in 10 second half minutes to secure the points – despite a late Newcastle rally.

Following a tough start to Emery’s reign, with opening league fixtures against champions Manchester City and Chelsea, victory at St James’ Park is the Gunners third consecutive win and they now appear to be gaining some momentum under Arsene Wenger’s successor. And it did appear, once they got into their stride, that Arsenal’s players are adapting to Emery’s philosophy – although on evidence there remains plenty of work to do.

Cardiff City 2 Arsenal 3

Arsenal secured their first away win of the season as they edged a pulsating Premier League encounter with Cardiff City. Alexandre Lacazette’s powerful late winner proved the difference in a contest full of attacking quality and defensive fragility. The Gunners led twice, through Shkodran Mustafi’s header and a curling effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, before Lacazette crashed home the winner on 81 minutes. Victor Camarasa’s first Cardiff goal, on the stroke of half-time, and Danny Ward’s header had seemed as though they would earn Neil Warnock’s side a point as they scored their first goals of the league campaign.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery this week denied reports that he had fallen out with midfielder Mesut Ozil after the former Germany international withdrew from the squad that beat West Ham last weekend, citing illness. There have been suggestions Ozil’s style does not fit with a manager who demands high-energy pressing from his forwards, but Ozil started in an attacking-looking line-up that paired Aubameyang with France striker Lacazette up top. Ozil and former Cardiff favourite Aaron Ramsey were given licence to roam in behind, and for large periods in the first half, Arsenal’s shape and roving full-backs troubled Cardiff. Emery’s side took the lead on 11 minutes with a goal that will have left Warnock incredulous as Mustafi headed home, unopposed, from Granit Xhaka’s corner.

But for a wonderful save from Neil Etheridge, who denied Nacho Monreal from point-blank range, the Gunners might have given Cardiff a mountain to climb inside 20 minutes. However, as always seems to be the way on the road – Arsenal came into this game having lost eight of their past nine away games – the Gunners allowed the hosts a way back in by failing to either extend their advantage or keeping their opponents out. Emery’s men almost replicated their opening goal when Mustafi got a firm header to Xhaka’s corner, but this time Etheridge repelled the danger. Lacazette and Aubameyang struggled to find a rapport at times, but were perfectly in tune just past the hour mark when they combined beautifully to allow Aubameyang to curl home from just outside the area, his 150th goal in one of Europe’s top five leagues. After the international break, Arsenal travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle.

Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1

Arsenal recorded their first Premier League win under new manager Unai Emery after Issa Diop’s own goal and Danny Welbeck’s late strike saw West Ham fall to their third straight defeat. The defensively frail Gunners came from behind to lead in fortuitous fashion as Alexandre Lacazette’s volley across the area deflected in off Diop. Hector Bellerin then picked out an unmarked Welbeck in added time and the substitute turned to lift his effort past Lukasz Fabianski. West Ham captain Marko Arnautovic put the visitors in front on 25 minutes, exchanging passes with the impressive Felipe Anderson before slotting low past Petr Cech.

Nacho Monreal equalised five minutes later, firing into an unguarded net after Bellerin’s cross deflected into the defender’s path off Alex Iwobi. Both Arnautovic and Robert Snodgrass then shot straight at Cech as the Hammers missed several chances to take the lead again, with former Gunner Lucas Perez also slicing wide late on in search of an equaliser. The first-half at times resembled a contest to determine which side’s defence were more inept, with Arsenal edging it. Their tactic of playing out from the back with Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos split either side of Cech was too easy for West Ham to disrupt, particularly with neither centre-back looking overly comfortable or mobile enough on the ball.

Anderson exploited that space brilliantly throughout, carrying the ball from deep to drive at the Arsenal defence, before playing a one-two with Arnautovic through Mustafi’s legs and allowing the striker to pick his spot in the bottom corner from outside the area. Elsewhere, Arsenal failed to pick up runners, with the offside Arnautovic wisely leaving Michail Antonio’s through ball for the overlapping Snodgrass, only for the Scot to pick out Cech. The hosts escaped with a win here but better sides will both carve them apart and finish their chances if the defending does not improve.

Chelsea 3 Arsenal 2

Marcos Alonso’s late strike settled a chaotic Premier League classic in Chelsea’s favour after Arsenal fought back from two goals down and threatened to earn a point at Stamford Bridge. But, despite the victory, coach Maurizio Sarri said he did not believe his players were ready to challenge for Manchester City’s title. Sarri’s side had built a two-goal advantage inside the first 20 minutes as Pedro turned in Alonso’s cross and Alvaro Morata added another seconds after Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shot over from close range.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted a similar opportunity before pulling one back with a low shot that Chelsea’s new £71m keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should have saved, before Alex Iwobi put the Gunners on level terms. Aubameyang and Iwobi missed further chances before half-time and Chelsea controlled the second half, Alonso sweeping in substitute Eden Hazard’s cross nine minutes from time to make it successive wins for Sarri and two defeats for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery. This was a heavyweight Premier League meeting for newcomers Sarri and Emery – and they were provided with plenty of food for thought after an engrossing 90 minutes.

Emery is perpetual motion in his technical area, pacing constantly from almost the first minute, a blur of gesticulations and dramatic effect with cajoling and encouragement throughout. The Spaniard is still trying to put his imprint on this Arsenal team after the end of Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign, and he is very obviously a hands-on figure. It is also clear from the manner in which Arsenal got back into the game – even though they ended defeated – that his new players are fighting for their manager. His style of a high defensive line and playing out from the back is a work in progress but both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are alarmingly short of pace for such an approach and this needs to be addressed.

Joel Campbell Leaves For Frosinone

Joel Campbell is ‘very happy’ to be at Frosinone after agreeing a three-year deal to sign for the Italians. Sport Mediaset in Italy are now reporting that the Costa Rican forward has arrived at the club. They quote him as saying “I am very happy to be here,” when he arrived for his medical this morning.

Frosinone were promoted ahead of this season to Serie A for only the second time in their history. They reportedly tried to bring in Lucas Perez this summer, but it was clear from his agent’s comments that the Spaniard wanted to remain in London and the Premier League. The Serie A side have now taken advantage of the connections they built up with Arsenal during that negotiation to move for another out-of-favour forward at the club instead.

Campbell struggled last season with a number of injuries that restricted his playing time to just 142 minutes with one goal and one assist to his name. A knee operation last summer kept him sidelined until October. That was followed by a sprained ankle just a couple of weeks later that kept him out even longer. He only returned to action at the start of March after 126 days out. Campbell has never really complained about being shunted around Europe by Arsenal nor about the lack of opportunities afforded to him by his parent club.

RIP Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart

Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart, who formed the popular Hart Foundation tag team with brother-in-law Bret in the 1980s, died Monday. He was 63. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office in Wesley Chapel, Fla., said Neidhart fell at home, hit his head and “succumbed to his injury.” No foul play was suspected. Neidhart, a native of Tampa who turned to wrestling in 1979 following a professional football career with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, was trained by WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart in Calgary.

Married to Stu’s daughter, Ellie, he became a member of the legendary Hart family before joining the WWE with Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith and Bret (Hit Man) Hart. Neidhart wrestled mostly for WWE from 1985 to 1997 and was known for his pink and black gear, maniacal laugh and goatee. Neidhart and Hart held the tag belts for nearly a year after beating The British Bulldogs in early 1987. They enjoyed another long reign as champs after defeating Demolition in mid-1990. Neidhart also teamed with Bret’s younger and late brother, Owen, and wrestled in singles competition. The two Hart brothers joined Neidhart, Smith and Brian Pillman in a re-formed Hart Foundation faction that enjoyed a strong run in 1997.

Neidhart, who earned the “Anvil” nickname after breaking the California high school record in shot put, was initially managed by Jimmy (The Mouth of the South) Hart as the Hart Foundation went on to capture two WWE world tag team championships. Ross Hart, his brother-in-law and a former pro wrestler, told The Associated Press that Neidhart suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and it was believed he suffered a grand mal seizure on Monday. Jimmy Hart said Neidhart seemed in good health when they last saw each other in April on WrestleMania weekend.

Neidhart competed in Calgary Stampede wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling in the early 1980s before joining the-then World Wrestling Federation in 1985. In the ’90s, Neidhart was part of the Hart Foundation group that feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He last competed in the organization in 1997, but one of his three daughters, Natalya, is a WWE superstar. Neidhart wrestled briefly for other wrestling promotions and had brushes with the law and spent time in drug rehabilitation later in life. But he found a second act as comic relief on “Total Divas” and was filmed going shopping with his daughter and teaching wrestlers how to golf.

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side will get even better as they deservedly beat Arsenal on the opening day of the Premier League season. The Gunners were playing their first competitive game without Arsene Wenger in charge since 1996 but were well beaten by the defending champions. Raheem Sterling put City ahead in the 14th minute when he got the ball on the corner of the box, cut beyond two players and rifled home from 20 yards.

Riyad Mahrez went close to scoring on his league debut for City when his free-kick was saved by Petr Cech, who denied Aymeric Laporte from the follow-up. It was always going to be a tough first game for Unai Emery at Arsenal and they had few clear-cut chances – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and substitute Alexandre Lacazette shooting wide from outside the box. Sterling, who was selected on the left wing over Leroy Sane, opened the scoring when he received a pass from Mendy, making his first Premier League start since September.

Record goalscorer Sergio Aguero should have had his 202nd City goal when he was played in one-on-one from the halfway line but he shot right at Cech – with De Bruyne free in the centre. Bernardo finally sealed the points when he finished from Mendy’s cutback. It would be unfair to judge Arsenal – or Emery, who replaced legendary manager Wenger this summer – based on a performance against the country’s outstanding team.

Lucas Perez Joins West Ham

West Ham have signed forward Lucas Perez from Arsenal on a three-year contract. It has been a really busy summer in east London and the 29-year-old Perez becomes West Ham’s eighth new signing, as manager Manuel Pellegrini overhauls his squad. Perez said: “I’m very happy to be here at such an historic club. “I’m very excited, as West Ham are giving me the chance to stay in the Premier League and I’m very happy to be part of this new project.

“West Ham have great fans and play in an amazing stadium, so to sign here brings me great joy. I’m very motivated.” Perez joined Arsenal from Deportivo La Coruna in August 2016 and spent last season on loan back at the Spanish club, having struggled to make an impact at the Emirates. West Ham director of football Mario Husillos said: “We welcome Lucas to West Ham United. “He is a very experienced player that Manuel and I both know well from Spain. “He has great technical quality, and can play as both the main striker or the second striker in a deeper role. He scores goals, but can also create them and link well with the midfielders.

Lucas makes the move across London and signs a three-year contract with the Irons, having played in the Premier League and La Liga over the past two seasons with the Gunners and on loan for Deportivo de La Coruna. The 29-year-old joins Ryan Fredericks, Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop, Jack Wilshere, Aindriy Yarmolenko, Fabian Balbuena and Felipe Anderson in moving to London Stadium this summer.

Transfer Window Almost Closed

According to The Sun, new coach Unai Emery fears Shkodran Mustafi is not up to the job, while he is also said to fear the likes of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos are not yet ready for regular first team football. Chambers, who recently signed a new long-term deal, is reportedly on the verge of joining newly promoted Fulham on a season-long loan with Croatia World Cup star Domagoj Vida having been identified as a potential replacement.

The physically imposing Vida joined Besiktas from Dynamo Kiev for £8m January and the Turkish club have rejected a £13.5m bid from Liverpool already this summer. Having invested heavily this summer and last January, when Mesut Ozil signed a new deal following the arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Arsenal must sell before they can submit a tempting offer for Vida. Danny Welbeck is expected to leave before the deadline, while Aaron Ramsey could yet raise up to £30m if he fails to agree an extension to his contract which is due to expire next summer.

Bournemouth and Southampton want Danny Welbeck, Everton move off the England international. January signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is their No.1 frontman with Alexandre Lacazette also an option leaving Welbeck as 3rd choice. That leaves Welbeck out in the cold and he could be off before Thursday’s 5pm transfer deadline. Everton like the ex-Manchester United man but with Brazilian ace Bernard set to sign on a free transfer they could end their interest. That would leave Southampton and Bournemouth in the clear to battle over Welbeck who has just a year left on his contract at Arsenal.

Monday Arsenal Transfer News

Arsenal have problems at left-back with Sead Kolasinac set for two months on the sidelines having picked up a knee injury in the recent friendly against Chelsea. Nacho Monreal hasn’t featured in Arsenal’s preparations for the new season having returned from the World Cup with a knee injury. The Spaniard is expected to return to Emery’s squad this week but is a major doubt for Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Manchester City on Sunday (4pm). And with youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles set to fill the role against the champions, Emery has decided he needs fresh cover.

And the Daily Mail report the new boss will target AC Milan full-back Ricardo Rodriguez before the transfer window closes on Thursday (5pm). Rodgriguez moved to Milan last summer after spending five seasons in Germany with Wolfsburg. It’s claimed that Milan are keen to keep hold of the 25-year-old and it may cost Emery £30million to get his man. This is a player I wanted Arsenal  to sign a year or so ago.

Lucas Pérez wants to remain at Arsenal beyond next week’s transfer window, sources close to the player have said, with the striker hopeful of fighting his way into Unai Emery’s plans for the coming season despite interest in his services from Sporting Lisbon. Pérez was signed by Arsene Wenger almost two years ago, arriving from Deportivo de La Coruña in Spain for £17.1m. However he failed to make much of an impression in north London, scoring just one Premier League goal in his debut campaign, before spending last season out on loan at his former club. The 29-year-old returned to Arsenal this summer to link up with fellow Spaniard Emery and featured in the club’s first two pre-season friendlies against Boreham Wood, Atlético Madrid, although he was left out of their recent squads for wins over Chelsea and Lazio.

Perez To Lazio, Arsenal In For Vida

Arsenal have decided to accept a bid from Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon for striker Lucas Perez after he failed to win over Unai Emery, according to reports. The 29-year-old joined the Gunners two years ago in a £17m deal, but spent last season on loan at Deportivo after being deemed surplus to requirements by former manager Arsene Wenger. Emery’s arrival appeared to offer Perez a second chance at the Emirates, with the Spanish boss even having tried to sign his compatriot while in charge of PSG.

Perez reported to training early in an attempt to impress the new manager and was part of the squad that travelled to Singapore for their pre-season tour. However, Portuguese newspaper A Bola report that Sporting have agreed a fee of just £4.4million with Arsenal for Perez – a significant loss on the figure they paid just two summers ago.

The Arsenal board are happy to sanction a £25m deal for Besiktas star Domagoj Vida provided the Gunners can shift Shkodran Mustafi or Danny Welbeck in the coming days. The defender was impressive as Croatia reached the final of the World Cup in Russia and his performances have not gone unnoticed by Arsenal’s head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. Arsenal already have a wealth of options at centre-back but Emery wants a long-term partner for Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Laurent Koscielny is currently sidelined with an achilles injury.

Mustafi has failed to convince Emery in pre-season and the Gunners are open to offers for the German before the transfer window closes. Danny Welbeck has less than a year left on his deal and has been told he can leave, with Everton interested. One or both of their departures would free up funds for Emery to make moves in the transfer market and the Sun say he will use the money to go for Vida. The 29-year-old only joined Besiktas last January for £8m but the Turkish giants would not stand in his way for the right fee.

End Of July Arsenal Transfer Updates

In a candid interview with Sky Sports, Aaron Ramsey admitted he is uncertain about his Arsenal future as he enters the last year of his contact. The Welsh star, who arrived in north London from Cardiff in 2008, is reportedly being tailed by Italian outfit Lazio and is said to be open to trying a new adventure overseas. Ramsey’s agents are in discussions with Arsenal, and although Sky Sports says new boss Unai Emery has “made it clear he wants Ramsey to remain at the club”, the man himself gave little away when asked to comment on his future following a squad training session in Singapore.

Steven N’Zonzi’s move to Arsenal has stalled. The France international is said to be “waiting for permission from his father before he can complete a move”. Unai Emery worked with the midfielder at Sevilla and has been chasing N’Zonzi for weeks, but it’s claimed that the Gunners aren’t willing to pay his full £36m release clause and are trying to haggle down the Spanish side. According to Spanish newspaper Estadio Deportivo, N’Zonzi’s dad “holds a unique personal sell-on clause which would entitle him to a cash windfall if Sevilla sell his son”, which is why the asking price isn’t budging. The way out of the impasse? Sevilla “may be willing to budge on their asking price should N’Zonzi senior agree to forfeit the clause”, says talkSPORT.

The Sun reports that midfielder Alex Iwobi has “snubbed interest from Lazio” and is set to sign a new five-year deal with Arsenal. The 22-year-old Nigerian international progressed to the Arsenal first-team from the academy and his new contract is reportedly worth £70,000-a-week.

Will Arsenal Sell & Buy More Players?

David Ospina allowed to leave despite Petr Cech rumours. Ospina was No 2 behind Petr Cech last season with Unai Emery also signing Bernd Leno this summer. There is doubt over Cech’s future though with former club Chelsea linked to a surprise move for the Czech keeper. Leno is expected to be Emery’s No 1 but with Cech potentially leaving, it could leave Arsenalshort on goalkeepers. Even so, the Evening Standard report that the Gunners will allow Ospina to leave if he finds a new club.

Besiktas have been strongly linked with the Colombian as the Turkish club could lose their current keeper. Emery is keen to bring in two more players before the end of the transfer window, but the north London side will have to sell players first in order to raise funds. The Gunners have already secured the services of Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Matteo Guendouzi in recent weeks and Emery remains keen to add to his squad. Arsenal had a £70 million ($91m) budget heading into the transfer window, however, and will have to sell before making any additional signings.

They are believed to be willing to listen to offers for the likes of Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Danny Welbeck, Petr Cech, David Ospina, Carl Jenkinson and Lucas Perez. The arrival of Leno from Bayer Leverkusen means Cech will likely end up on the bench after three years at the Emirates, with Ospina another potential victim of the German goalkeeper’s signing. Mustafi faces extra competition for a starting berth in defence from Sokratis following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund , with the centre-back enduring a difficult 2017-18 campaign.

France Crowned 2018 World Cup Winners

France won the Fifa World Cup for the second time by overcoming Croatia’s bold challenge in a thrilling final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. Didier Deschamps’ side repeated the success on home soil at France ’98 by a margin that hardly looked possible as Croatia stood toe-to-toe with the favourites for an hour. France’s victory meant Deschamps, who captained them 20 years ago, became just the third man to win the competition as a player and coach. Croatia also felt their luck deserted them, but ultimately France ran out victorious to erase the memories of the loss to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final in Paris.

In one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era, played out to a soundtrack of thunder, Croatia and France delivered an enthralling spectacle that brought the joint highest goal tally in a final since 1958, a pitch invasion, and a controversial intervention from the video assistant referee that had a huge influence on the outcome. France took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Mario Mandzukic’s head – but Croatia were by far the better side in the first half and deservedly equalised courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s left-foot finish. Croatia were left nursing a burning sense of injustice when France restored their lead seven minutes before half-time through Griezmann’s penalty, awarded by referee Nestor Pitana for handball against Perisic after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted.

In a compelling second half, France looked to have wrapped it up with two strikes in six minutes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe either side of the hour mark. Croatia, however, showed unbreakable spirit and even threatened a comeback when Mandzukic took advantage of France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris hesitating over a clearance to pull a goal back. But France closed out the win to bring redemption for Deschamps after defeat at the Euros two years ago, sparking wild celebrations and ensuring Lloris lifted the World Cup.

Belgium Wins 3rd Place – World Cup 2018

England’s World Cup campaign in Russia ended with a 2-0 defeat by Belgium in St Petersburg that meant the Three Lions finished in fourth place.

Gareth Southgate’s team were unable to bounce back from the despair of Wednesday’s extra-time loss against Croatia in the semi-final in Moscow – but this still represents a highly creditable tournament for England.

Thomas Meunier put Belgium ahead after just four minutes when he slid in ahead of Danny Rose to divert Nacer Chadli’s cross past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England had chances to level in the second half as Toby Alderweireld cleared off the line from Eric Dier, while Harry Maguire also headed wide from a good position.

Eden Hazard wrapped it up for Belgium with eight minutes left when he got the better of Phil Jones to beat Pickford, who had just saved magnificently from Meunier, with an powerful finish.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku missed two chances and was substituted without scoring, leaving England captain Harry Kane in pole position to win the World Cup’s Golden Boot with six goals.

World Cup 2018 Semi-Finals

France will face England or Croatia in the World Cup final after edging past European neighbours Belgium in the semi-final in St Petersburg. Defender Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal for the 1998 champions in the second half with a towering header from Antoine Griezmann’s corner. Didier Deschamps’ side were on the back foot for large periods of the game, but emerged victorious to reach their third final, having been beaten by Italy on penalties in 2006.

Belgium came through the quarter-finals by impressively beating Brazil, but they were unable to find the equaliser, as Axel Witsel’s powerful, long-range drive was pushed away by Hugo Lloris, who also brilliantly kept out Toby Alderweireld’s turn and shot. At the final whistle, the France substitutes ran on the pitch to celebrate with the players, while manager Deschamps was mobbed by his staff before dancing around in a circle.

England’s bid to reach a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an agonising end as they lost in extra time to Croatia in Moscow. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute of the semi-final, slotting in from Ivan Perisic’s flick-on into the area. England – in their first World Cup semi-final since they were beaten on penalties by West Germany at Italia ’90 – were given the perfect start through Kieran Trippier’s 20-yard free-kick after only five minutes, but Perisic’s 68th-minute equaliser sent the match into extra time.

England’s players were inconsolable at the final whistle as the dream was snatched away and the pain was etched on their faces as well as that of manager Gareth Southgate – but they can take great pride and credit from this tournament. Croatia, in sharp contrast, were jubilant and will now face France in the final in Moscow on Sunday.