'Cruel' tiebreaker knocks out Senegal

Fair play, a newly implemented tiebreaker in the group stage of the world's biggest soccer tournament, was put into use for the first time Thursday and Japan came out as the beneficiary.

Both of the remaining sides will come from Group H and there are now three teams who are vying for that spot - Colombia, Japan and Senegal.

One disgruntled fan noted the irony of Japan becoming the first team to advance under the "fair play" rule after collecting fewer bookings than Senegal, posting: "It's amusing how Japan went through playing anti-football but we live to fight another day".

Belgium, meanwhile, are on the same side of the bracket as Brazil, Mexico, France, Argentina, Uruguay and Portugal, but Alexander-Arnold rejected the thought that England were not too unhappy to finish as Group G runners-up.

Thursday provided us with the final batch of group games, in what has been the most exciting opening stage of a World Cup this century. The second-place team would have to face Colombia, a tough opponent, but would get the victor of Switzerland and Sweden in the quarters.

Asked about the challenge that awaits against Colombia, Alexander-Arnold said: "Everyone who is in the last 16 deserves to be there". Japan and Senegal had the same amount of points, goal difference and goals scored. They were then held to a 1-1 draw by Japan. So, to me, that would be more satisfying and perhaps more indicative of what went on on the field than yellow cards.

"We know it's a very strong Colombia team", said Koulibaly. One day later, England's Kane scored a hat trick, adding to his two goals in England's opener, and leads the World Cup with five goals.

England and Belgium made a combined 17 changes to their starting elevens, a record for a World Cup game.

Despite equaling Japan's points total, goal differential, total goals scored and having played to a 2-2 draw on Gameday 2, Senegal finishes behind the Asian nation on fair-play points, falling victim to a new Federation Internationale de Football Association rule.

We now know our eight second-round matches, with some mouthwatering contests on offer.

The rules are the rules, was Senegalese manager Aliou Cisse's response. We have fewer points in fair play and Senegal has not qualified because we don't deserve it.

There were some shaky moments against the Africans but it was encouraging that twice Japan came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw - the first time the team had done so on the global stage.

It meant the World Cup tie-break system was used whereby the side with the best fair play record went through.

  • Julie Sanders