The deciding third group stage matches roll on today, with Groups C and D wrapping things up. Strangely enough, Group D plays at 10 am ET and Group C are the later matches at 2 pm ET. The Group C scenarios are annoyingly complicated — all four teams can still qualify for the knockout stage.
Poland are through with a win or a draw. They only don’t go through if they lose and Saudi Arabia beats Mexico. Argentina goes through with a win and can still qualify with a draw and a Mexico-Saudi Arabia draw or a Mexico win depending on goal difference. Saudi Arabia qualifies with a win over Mexico. If they draw, they need someone to win the Argentina-Poland match (and to have a better goal difference than Poland if Argentina wins that match). Mexico needs to win and have Poland beat Argentina or beat Saudi Arabia by four or more goals. If Argentina beats or draws Poland (and Mexico wins), it’s down to goal difference.
Phew. I think I got those all correct.
In Group D, France are already through. Australia goes through with a win over Denmark. If they draw, they need France to beat or draw Tunisia. If Tunisia beats France, Australia can advance on goal difference. Denmark advance with a win and a France win / draw with Tunisia. If Denmark win and Tunisia win, it comes down to goal difference with Australia. Tunisia advance with a win and a Denmark / Australia draw, and the goal difference scenarios above.
Netherlands 2 - Qatar 0: ho hum. The hosts were not good enough for the tournament and head home with one goal for and seven against. I’m still not sold on the Netherlands as a true contender.
Senegal 2 - Ecuador 1: a great match. Ecuador had the point they needed until conceding a silly penalty at the end of the first half. They got it back with a Moises Caicedo goal in the 67th minute only to see it slip away for good on Kalidou Koulibaly’s first international goal, not a bad time to score your first, eh?
England 3 - Wales 0: oof, Wales. I saw some talk that they might be among the worst World Cup sides ever, which is a bit harsh on them but not wholly undeserved. Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden scored two goals within 20 seconds (measured by time the ball was actually in play) five minutes into the second half. Rashford got a second on a magnificent free kick into the top corner.
USA 1 - Iran 0: WE DID IT! Christian Pulisic’s 38th minute goal from a sweeping team move held up, and the US advanced. Pulisic got injured in the collision with the Iranian keeper on the goal, and his status for Saturday’s knockout match is up in the air. I did not like the negative, pack-it-in changes that Gregg Berhalter made as the second half wound down. The US didn’t concede, but they accepted more pressure than they had to, I think. Shoutout our boy Matt Turner — the first time an American keeper has kept consecutive clean sheets at a World Cup since 1930.