Sports

Japan & Senegal sweeping all before them

Japan & Senegal sweeping all before them

Russia, the tournament's host nation, inched closer to advancing to the make-or-break knockout round, by beating Egypt 3 to 1.

Not only did these teams impress World Cup viewers - their fans did, too.

The World Cup is always an opportunity for nations to share their own unique approach to the attractive game, celebration in victory and the grief of defeat.

Salah needed to produce the type of performance he delivered almost every week for Liverpool this season, when he scored 44 goals in 51 games, but it was clear from the start that he was staying out of anything too physical on his return from damaged ligaments in his left shoulder sustained in the Champions League final.

After the Blue Samurai's achievement of being the first Asian team to beat a South American side in a World Cup match on June 19, fans celebrated by... staying back at the Saransk stadium in Russian Federation and tidying up after themselves. The 2-1 victory over Colombia yesterday was another surprising result in an unpredictable tournament. The second and third match are also important.

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Japan bested Colombia before Senegal beat Poland in separate Group H matches on Tuesday.

The second half was all Japan, however, and in the 73rd minute Yuya Osako headed home a Honda corner to secure his team a historic win and only their fifth victory in World Cup history.

"I'm certain that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup", he told BBC Sport. When Senegal and Japan meet on June 24 in Yekaterinburg, we can at least be sure that the stadium will be near spotless, whoever comes out on top.

"There's definitely been a decline", said former Nigeria worldwide Peter Odemwingie, who played at the past two World Cups and is now working as a BBC pundit.

"Nigeria had one of the best African squads ever at the 1994 World Cup".


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