World Cup day 15 in a nutshell: England second, Fair Play rules in Group H

We round up Wednesday’s talking points from Russia as England finish second in Group G, and Fair Play makes a big call.

Each day during the tournament, we will be pulling together all the big stories and best reaction right here in a nutshell, so you do not miss a thing.

Here are the highlights from day 15 at the World Cup…

The reports

Japan 0-1 Poland

Japan edged through in Group H, becoming the first team ever to progress courtesy of the Fair Play rule. Two fewer bookings than Senegal, who had scored and conceded the same number of goals, saw them scrape across the line despite defeat to Poland.

The Poles picked up a morale-boosting but ultimately meaningless win thanks to Southampton defender Roman Bednarek’s finish from a free-kick in the second half, but still finished bottom of Group H with three points.

Senegal 0-1 Colombia

Colombia qualified for the knockout stage as group winners thanks to a 1-0 win over a Senegal side who crashed out in dramatic fashion.

Aliou Cisse’s side, denied a first-half penalty when VAR judged that Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez had made a legitimate lunge on Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, had looked set to finish behind Japan, with their opponents facing an early exit.

In a thrilling group climax, a Poland goal in Volgograd was sending both teams in Samara to the last 16, but Yerry Mina’s 74th-minute header provided a decisive twist, ensuring Jose Pekerman’s men triumphed and Senegal, by virtue of their yellow-card tally, were ousted.

England 0-1 Belgium

England qualified as runners-up in Group G and booked a World Cup last-16 date with Colombia as Adnan Januzaj earned a 1-0 win for Belgium on a curious night in Kaliningrad.

With qualification to the knockout stage already assured, two second-string sides laboured in a low-key encounter where three points to seal top spot – and a seemingly tougher route through the tournament – appeared a dubious prize.

A superior disciplinary record had meant stalemate was always likely to see Gareth Southgate’s men finish at the summit but though Belgium racked up further bookings, they found the back of the net through Januzaj’s fine 51st-minute strike.

Panama 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia bowed out of the World Cup with a 2-1 win against Panama in the final Group G game, coming from behind to claim victory.

Both sides entered the game without a win in the tournament and Panama went ahead in the 33rd minute as Jose Luis Rodriguez’s shot deflected in off the body of Yassine Meriah.

But Tunisia levelled in the 50th minute as Fakhreddine Ben Youssef slotted home from a Wahbi Khazri cross, before the latter netted 16 minutes later to seal the three points for Tunisia.

Moment of the day

Perhaps not for the reasons we would like but the moment of the day comes from Japan, where the final few minutes of their defeat to Poland was played at a snail’s pace, at best.

Knowing they were as good as through with a 1-0 defeat to already-eliminated Poland, Japan kept possession in their own half, with no intent to move the ball forward, and the Poles happy to let them do it after restoring some pride

Key quotes Tweet of the day

Spare a thought for a reporter in a pickle…

Rodriguez, whose side face England in the last 16 on Tuesday, was substituted after 31 minutes of the 1-0 World Cup victory on Thursday afternoon, which sealed Colombia’s place at the top of Group H.

After the game, Pekerman told reporters he was worried about the condition of the 26-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Bayern Munich from Real Madrid, while also attempting to play down the situation given Colombia’s qualification for the last 16.

“I’m extremely concerned, it’s a very tough situation for my team,” he said.

Gareth Southgate is willing to accept any criticism that comes his way after making eight changes for England’s World Cup defeat to Belgium.

With the World Cup’s leading scorer Harry Kane among the players left on the bench, Marcus Rashford missed England’s best chance to equalise when he was played through by Jamie Vardy.

But Southgate insisted his main priority to give all of his outfield players time on the pitch ahead of the knockout stage.

He said: “When you’re a manager you’ve got to make decisions that are right for your group and are right for the primary objective.

And finally…

Belgium have topped Group G at the World Cup after a 1-0 win over England – but forward Michy Batshuayi was left feeling a little sheepish.

The Chelsea striker scooped up the ball after Januzaj’s goal and gave it a jubilant boot, possibly aiming for the back of the net.

Source.