June 19, 2018 | Posted in: Publishing

2018 World Cup action continued in Russia on June 19, 2018, with the conclusion of the first round of Group Stage matches and Japan and Senegal taking an astonishing lead in Group H. Japan defeated Colombia 2-1, aided by a red card given to Colombian Carlos Sanchez, dismissing him from the game, and giving Japan a player advantage for 80 minutes. Senegal defeated Group H favorite Poland 2-1 with the difference coming on a controversial goal in the 60th minute. Host Russia faced Egypt where all eyes were on Mohamed Salah’s return from injury. The Liverpool forward, who separated his shoulder in the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid just three weeks ago, was unable to will his team to victory, despite his penalty shot goal in the 72nd minute, as Egypt fell 3-1.  Egypt has all been eliminated from the competition, while Russia took control of Group A [VIDEO] with six points and a ridiculous plus-seven goal differential in the standings.

Colombia reeling after unexpected defeat

Colombia, ranked 16th in the world, are a favorite to emerge from Group H and appear in the Knockout Stage. Japan, ranked 61st in the world, took a 1-0 lead in the 6th minute after Sanchez’ dismissal for his handball and Shinji Kagawa netted the ensuing penalty shot. Sanchez’s red card was the first of the 2018 World Cup and while the Colombians were able to equalize in the 39th minute on Juan Quintero’s free-kick, placed brilliantly underneath the defenders’ feet as they jumped, Colombia’s one-player disadvantage proved too much to overcome. Japan would secure the 2-1 victory on Yuya Osako’s goal in the 73rd minute after dominating stretches of the game with the one player advantage.

Poland flounders against Senegal

Poland is ranked eighth in the world, features prolific Bundesliga scorer Robert Lewandowski, and are the favorites in Group H. Senegal, playing in their first World Cup since 2002, opened the scoring in the 37th minute when Idrissa Gueye’s shot caromed off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and into the net for an own goal. It was the third own goal of the tournament and sunk Poland just like Morocco was sent to disappointing defeat earlier in the week on an own goal. Senegal would improve the lead 2-0 controversially when M’Baye Niang looked ready to leave the game for a substitute and instead sprinted toward the goal, won a 50/50 ball, and banged the shot home easily for Senegal’s second score of the game. Poland would score in the 86th minute on Grzegorz Krychowiak’s diving header at the back post, cutting Senegal’s lead to 2-1, but an equalizer wouldn’t occur the last ten minutes. Japan’s surprise win over Colombia rivals Mexico’s 1-0 win [VIDEO] over defending champion Germany as the first week’s top storyline. Senegal and Japan lead Group H with three points and a plus-one goal differential with action continuing in the group June 24, 2018, at 11 AM EST.