Sunday, June 17, 2018

World Cup Recap For June 17, 2018

Stubborn Swiss stifle Brazil

Brazil looked all set to party at one stage but ended up trapped in Switzerland’s intricate defensive web, with a 1-1 draw a fair result as the two sides made their Group E debuts at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Having dominated possession but without creating clear-cut chances, the tournament favourites took the lead after 20 minutes thanks to the kind of strike Philippe Coutinho has become known for: a spectacular curling drive from outside the box that curled right into the far corner of Yann Sommer’s net.
It looked as if the Rostov night would have a samba beat, but the Swiss had other ideas. Maintaining their intensity, they conjured up an equalizer just after the restart, with Steven Zuber nodding home from inside the six-yard box. The five-time world champions promptly lost their poise, and though they created some late chances, both their finishing and their play was slightly off key.

Brazil were unable to impose their style against very physical opponents. Neymar and his team-mates endured a tough evening and despite Coutinho’s early strike it was not until the end of the game that their best chances came. That said, A Seleção never expected it to be an easy night.

Switzerland’s fast start to the second half took everyone by surprise and got them back into the game following Brazil’s impressive first-half display. Their continuous pressing prevented the South Americans from finding their rhythm again, and their showing after the restart will have the Swiss fans hoping there is more to come.

Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s brightest spark on what was a challenging evening for his side. His sumptuous strike is sure to figure among the goals of the tournament.

Valon Behrami is the first Switzerland player in history to appear at four World Cups: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and now Russia 2018. Kiki Antenen’s record of eight appearances in world finals matches was also equalled tonight, though not by Behrami. Stephan Lichtsteiner was the man pulling level with that mark.

What’s next
Brazil-Costa Rica, Group E, 22 June, Saint Petersburg
Serbia-Switzerland, Group E, 22 June, Kaliningrad

Lozano lights up the Luzhniki as El Tri defeat holders

Mexico pulled off a historic victory in the opening game of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group F, defeating World Cup holders Germany 1-0 in front of a fervent - and full - Luzhniki Stadium. 
Juan Carlos Osorio's masterplan worked to perfection, with El Tri soaking up the long spells of German possession and hitting Die Nationalmannschaft on the counter-attack. Hirving Lozano's strike was a result of a swift break, with green shirts swarming forwards and the PSV Eindhoven man coolly converting past Manuel Neuer.
Joachim Low's side played their part in an enthralling encounter, with Toni Kroos hitting a free kick against the crossbar. Their efforts were ultimately in vain, with the Mexicans claiming all three points.

Amazing – Germany are now the third holders in a row to fail to win their opening match at the following World Cup. Even more worrying: Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 both went out after the group stage and the four-time champions surely have their work cut out for them if they want to avoid a similar fate. Not much worked as they had hoped for and changes will certainly be needed for Joachim Low in the next game.

Mexico came to the match with a plan and stuck to it to perfection. The team learned from their mistakes of the Confederations Cup and designed a system that would prevent the Germans playing their usual passing game and take advantage of the spaces at the back. The last minutes were tense but Mexico rarely allowed clear chances. It was a deserved victory against the world champions.

Hirving Lozano not only scored the winner, but played a key role in El Tri claiming all three points. He pressed and harried the German defence, not giving them a moment's rest until his substitution after 66 minutes.

This defeat represents the first time that Germany have lost the opening game in defence of their Trophy. They beat Argentina 3-1 in 1958, drew 0-0 with Poland in 1978, and defeated Bolivia 1-0 in 1994

What’s next?
Germany-Sweden – Group F, 23 June, Sochi
Korea Republic-Mexico – Group F, 23 June, Rostov-on-Don

Kolarov stunner seals Serbia win

Serbia edged Costa Rica 1-0 after Aleksandar Kolarov scored the third direct free-kick of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. In a tightly-contested duel at the Samara Arena, with both teams creating several goalscoring chances, it was Serbia's day, as the Orlovi put a precious three points on the board.

Costa Rica had opportunities in the first half and they did not take advantage of them. In the second half, Serbia were more confident and scored the decisive goal. This game was about efficacy and accuracy and some players of Costa Rica did not have that this time. Their attackers were isolated throughout the second half and they did not create enough opportunities to score. This was a chess match that Serbia won.

On the pitch today, Serbia did exactly what they promised in the build-up to the match. They played like a team, covering positions for one another, they did not underestimate their opponent and they did not get caught in the headlights of playing in a first World Cup match in eight years. The team’s mix of aggressiveness and creativity in midfield was the driving force of the win, with the foul that led to Kolarov’s free-kick winner coming after an inspired Milinkovic-Savic run. ​

Aleksandar Kolarov came up with the decisive moment of the match, as he struck home an exquisite free-kick to give Serbia a valuable three points in their Group E opener.

Serbia's last four World Cup wins have been by the score of 1-0. Before today's match, Serbia's last three World Cup wins (including when they played as Yugoslavia) were won by that scoreline: v Germany in 2010, v IR Iran and USA in 1998.

What’s next
Brazil v Costa Rica – Group E, 22 June, St. Petersburg

Serbia v Switzerland – Group E, 22 June, Kaliningrad

CFL Week 1 Recap


Jonathon Jennings and the BC Lions clawed their way to a 22-10 home victory over the Montreal Alouettes in the Week 1 finale on Saturday night. The Lions’ versatile quarterback got his 2018 season off to a hot start, completing 20 of 24 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a career-high 57 yards on the ground. BC’s defence did its part as well, adding an interception and five sacks to help hand Montreal their 12th-straight loss.
The Alouettes came out strong on their opening possession, with running back Tyrell Sutton carrying the ball five-straight times to put the Lions’ defence on their heels. Receiver B.J. Cunningham appeared to give Montreal the early lead with a long 52-yard touchdown catch, but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
Drew Willy and the Als’ offence made up for it just two plays later after the veteran quarterback found receiver Chris Williams deep down the field for a 56-yard connection. The ball was knocked loose before Williams could cross the goal line, but receiver Eugene Lewis was there to recover it in the end zone for his first career CFL touchdown. Kicker Boris Bede added the extra point to give Montreal the early 7-0 lead.
Jennings looked sharp on the Lions’ second offensive drive, zipping a slant pass to receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to get things rolling. The athletic quarterback used both his arm and legs to push his team down the field, and BC’s passing attack found a steady rhythm that would continue throughout the game.
Receiver Bryan Burnham made an acrobatic 12-yard catch on the drive, and Jennings hit receiver Shaq Johnson on the very next play for a 35-yard touchdown. Johnson used his speed to gain separation and get open on the right side of the field, and kicker Ty Long knocked through the extra point to tie the game at seven apiece.
Montreal’s offence looked strong again on their second drive, with Willy hooking up with receiver Ernest Jackson for a big 54-yard strike. But Odell Willis’ first sack as a Lion stifled the Als’ drive, and they would settle for a 30-yard field goal to grab the 10-7 lead. Willy completed 10 of 12 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Jennings continued to make plays in multiple ways after the Lions got the ball back, as the quarterback found space in the Als’ defensive front for a 21-yard run to bring the Lions into Montreal territory. The Als’ defence bounced back on the drive to hold strong, and Long punted the ball for a single to bring BC within two points.
Running back Jeremiah Johnson began to get the Lions’ running game going in the second quarter, and Long would boot another punt for a single to bring the score to 10-9 in the second quarter.
Both defences stole the show in the third quarter, with both defensive lines clogging up running lanes and applying pressure to keep the big plays to a minimum. The lone score of the quarter would be a 27-yard BC field goal from Long, giving the Lions a narrow 11-10 lead.
BC continued to build momentum near the end of the quarter with Jennings completing seven-straight passes, and Long would knock through a 30-yard field to extend the Lions’ lead to 15-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The first turnover of the game came when Willy was picked off by Lions defensive back Garry Peters while trying to complete a short pass over the middle to Eugene Lewis. Jennings continued his big performance immediately after getting the ball back, calling his own number for a 16-yard scamper. The Lions’ offence capitalized on the Peters interception when Jennings connected with receiver Cory Watson for an 11-yard touchdown strike, giving BC a 22-10 lead that would hold to seal the Week 1 victory.
The Alouettes will look to bounce back when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Friday in Week 2, while the Lions will be off until travel to face the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 3.