Another round-up from the World Cup where Russia and Uruguay advance to the knockout stages maintaining their 100% win rate in Group A.
Burger King needn’t have placed the ad offering Russian women £36,000 and Whoppers for life if they could convince World Cup players to fill their bellies with babies. The Russian footballing gene pool is doing quite well, thank you.
The lowest ranked side in the competition made it through to the knockout stages after a stunning second-half display against a Mohamed Salah inspired Egypt in St Petersburg.
After the 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia, Russian coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, received a personal call from President Putin during the post-match press conference. I have a vision of him taking his bloodied rubber gloves off, the CEO of Burger King in Russia hanging from a meat hook, while someone passes him a mobile phone.
“Congratulations comrade Cherchesov.”
With Uruguay facing a Saudi Arabia side already humbled by the hosts, Russia knew that a win over the Egyptians would likely see them through to the Round of 16, and that’s what happened.
Salah started a competitive game for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the Champions League Final, and the man who scored 44 goals in an outstanding first season at Liverpool, came closest to scoring the opener when he curled a shot wide in a first half where the African nation had the better chances.
Two minutes after the break, everything changed.
Roman Zobnin released a speculative shot from outside the box, Ahmed Fathi stretched out a leg to prevent the ball from reaching Artem Dzyuba, only to see it ricochet into the back of his net. It was the fifth own goal of the tournament. Two more and we have a new record.
Russia took a decisive two-goal lead in the 59th minute. Fullback Mario Fernandes broke from the back like a 100m sprinter, picked up a through ball before threading it to Denis Cherysev to score his third goal of the tournament, bringing him to par with Cristiano Ronaldo in the hunt for the Golden Boot.
And it was all over bar the burgers three-minutes later.
Giant forward, Dzyuba, brought a long punt from the back down on his chest, dinked past the hapless Ali Gabr, and finished with supreme ease.
Salah scored a consolation goal from the spot three minutes later, but there was only ever going to be one winner after that third goal went in.
“This is not an accident,” said the Russian coach after the match, “we have a group of solidarity.”
Egypt is out giving those Russian vamps the perfect opportunity to prey on their sadness and win that lifetime supply of burgers.
Uruguay 1 v 0 Saudi Arabia
Talking about nations that have turned the #MeToo campaign into #OhNotYouAsWell, and Saudi Arabia are also on their way home. The country that still requires women ask permission from male relatives if they want to take a yoga class, renew their passport or leave jail needed at least a point against Uruguay to take it to the wire, but found Luis Suarez standing in their way.
The Barcelona ace scored his 52nd international goal on his 100th appearance for his country, and he didn’t bite anyone. Suarez scored from close range in the 23rd minute to send Uruguay into the last 16 alongside those pesky Russians.
The game was that bad, I would have preferred to have watched the lifespan of a pinto bean from birth to death via burrito, but there was one moment of magic when colour commentator Phil Neville told the British TV audience that he believed the South American nation could go further than they have ever gone before.
Phil, Uruguay have won the thing twice, mate.
Russia and Uruguay will face either Spain, Portugal or that other nation who cares for their women, Iran, in the Round of 16.
1. Russia – 6 pts
2. Uruguay – 6
3. Egypt – 0
4. Saudi Arabia – 0
What Are The Odds?
Group A Winners
World Cup Winners