WORLD CUP Thursday


Japan advances on fewer yellow cards

VOLGOGRAD, Russia

Japan advanced to the knockout round at the World Cup on a tiebreaker, fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

The Japanese lost to Poland 1-0 in their final group match, but they still reached the round of 16 because Colombia beat Senegal.

Both Japan and Senegal finished the group phase with four points, had the same goal difference and the same amount of goals scored. Starting at this year’s tournament, disciplinary records — known as fair play — were added by FIFA’s next tiebreaker comes down to the number of yellow cards in group play. Japan had four yellow cards in its three group matches while Senegal had six.

Poland, which had already been eliminated, got its goal from defender Jan Bednarek in the 59th minute. He beat his marker at the far post and volleyed in a swerving free kick from Rafal Kurzawa.

Japan has reached the knockout round at the World Cup three times in the last five tournaments.

Belgium tops England, clinches Group G

KALININGRAD, Russia

In a match neither team had to win, Belgium came out on top and took first place in its World Cup group with a 1-0 victory over England.

Adnan Januzaj scored with a curling shot in the 51st minute on a night of little tension or attacking intent.

With the victory, Belgium gets what appears to be an easier match in the next round against Japan on Monday in Rostov-on-Don. England will face Colombia on Tuesday in Moscow.

Both teams had advanced to the round of 16 before the match.

Although Belgium was the winner of the group, it might have the tougher road to the final with Brazil, Portugal, France and Argentina possible future opponents. If England gets past Colombia, it could face Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden or Switzerland on its way to a possible final.

Belgium is one of only three teams to advance to the knockout round with 3-0 records from the group stage. Croatia and Uruguay are the others.

England and Belgium made a combined 17 changes to their starting lineups to rest players for the knockout round. Harry Kane, the leading scorer at the tournament with five goals, was on the bench for England. So was Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four for Belgium.

Tunisia tops Panama for first win in 40 years

SARANSK, Russia

Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri set up a second-half goal and then scored one of his own to help his side secure its first victory in a World Cup in four decades.

The striker’s hard, rising shot in the 66th minute lifted Tunisia to a 2-1 triumph over Panama. It came 15 minutes after Khazri’s pinpoint square pass produced Fakhreddine Ben Youssef’s equalizer.

Panama had taken the lead in the 33rd minute through an own-goal when Jose Luis Rodriguez’s hard shot deflected off of Yassine Meriah, which sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Tunisia hadn’t won a World Cup game since a 3-1 victory over Mexico in 1978.

Both Group G teams were already eliminated going into the match.

Colombia downs Senegal to advance to knockouts

SAMARA, Russia

Yerry Mina scored on a header in the 74th minute and Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 to advance to the World Cup knockout stage. Senegal became the first team ever eliminated by a new tiebreaker — number of yellow cards.

Poland defeated Japan 1-0 in the other group match. Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except “fair play points,” based on yellow and red cards. Japan had four yellow cards, Senegal had six.

Colombia, which played in the quarterfinals four years ago in Brazil, finished atop its group and is the fourth South American team to advance. Senegal’s elimination means no African teams are left.

Colombia and Japan go on to play opponents from Group G. Colombia will play England while Japan plays Belgium.

Associated Press

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