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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 July 2018

World Cup 2018: Day 12 as it happened - Spain and Portugal progress from Group B

The final Group A fixtures - Egypt v Saudi Arabia and Uruguay v Russia - kick off at 6pm. Group B action follows as Iran look to stop Portugal

Iago Aspas scores Spain's second goal against Morocco in the World Cup Group B match. Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters
Iago Aspas scores Spain's second goal against Morocco in the World Cup Group B match. Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

12.15am: Focus turns to Messi

After the drama of Day 12, what will Day 13 have in store? Group C will be wrapped up as Australia face Peru and Denmark take on France (kick-off 6pm UAE).

France have already booked their place in the last-16 and Denmark will join them if they avoid defeat. However, Australia still have an outside shot if they defeat already-eliminated Peru. If Group C is anything like today's matches, anything could happen!

Then the focus turns to Lionel Messi, who will be looking to hit his stride when Argentina take on Nigeria aiming to produce a late escape.

Argentina need to beat Nigeria and hope Iceland fail to defeat group-toppers Croatia (kick-off times 10pm) if they are to reach the knockout stages.

It's all set up to be a cracker on Tuesday. We'll see you then!

Lionel Messi and the Argentina squad have had plenty to ponder. Juan Mabromata / AFP
Lionel Messi and the Argentina squad have had plenty to ponder. Juan Mabromata / AFP

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12.05am: Spain and Portugal top Group B

The two group favourites booked their places in the last-16, but it was far from straightforward. Spain topped the group, but only after Iago Aspas clinched a last-gasp equaliser against Morocco, while Portugal were held by Iran after conceding an injury-time penalty.

After today's action, the last-16 is already starting to shape up. Spain will face hosts Russia, who finished runners-up in Group A, while Portugal take on Group A winners Uruguay.

Catch up on the final round of Group B matches with this match report.

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9.50pm: An important win for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and Egypt may have had nothing to play for in terms of World Cup progress, but there was still plenty on the line when the two sides met at the Volgograd Arena.

John McAuley was inside the Volgograd Arena to witness the match.

Here is John's match report and reaction from Saudi manager Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Saudi Arabia's Salem Al Dawsari, left, scored his side's winning goal against Egypt. Damir Sagolj / Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Salem Al Dawsari, left, scored his side's winning goal against Egypt. Damir Sagolj / Reuters

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9.15pm: Russia handed a reality check

Russia defied the doomsayers by booking their place in the last-16 after emphatic wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but expectations have been tempered after Uruguay produced a comfortable 3-0 win over the World Cup hosts.

Read Richard Jolly's report and analysis

Luis Suarez, second from right, opened the scoring for Uruguay in the 3-0- win over Russia. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo
Luis Suarez, second from right, opened the scoring for Uruguay in the 3-0- win over Russia. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

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8.15pm: Saudi Arabia have won

Saudi Arabia have won their first game at the World Cup in 24 years as Salam Al Dawsari fires home in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

It gives them a 2-1 win over Egypt and ensures that they finish third in the group.

In the other Group A game, Uruguay have beaten 10-man Russia 3-0 to clinch top spot. Edinson Cavani completed the scoring in the second half.

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7.00pm: Uruguay lead, Egypt's El Hadary makes history

Well, that has been a hectic first 45 minutes in the final Group A games.

Uruguay are on track to win the group. They are 2-0 up on Russia thanks to Luis Suarez's free-kick and a Denis Cheryshev own goal.

The Russians have also had Igor Smolnikov sent off for two bookings.

The real fun has been at Egypt v Saudi Arabia though. Pride may be the only thing at stake with both sides eliminated, but it has been quite the game.

Mohamed Salah gave Egypt the lead. But Essam El Hadary, who at the age of 45 has broken the record for oldest player to play at a World Cup, kept the lead with a superb save to tip Fahad Al Muwallad's penalty onto the bar and away.

Saudi then won a second penalty and El Hadary could not produce heroics the second time as he was sent the wrong way by Salman Al Faraj.

It is 1-1 at half time and all to play for.

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4.55pm: Egypt's El Hadary to become World Cup's oldest player

Goalkeeper Essam El Hadary is all set to become the oldest player in World Cup history when Egypt face Saudi Arabia in their Group A game starting shortly, according to his team management.

El Hadary, who turned 45 in January, will feature in what is essentially a dead rubber given that both teams are already out of the World Cup.

Egypt tweeted their team line-up including El Hadary, who will smash the record set by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.

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3.45pm: If Messi makes early exit, he won't be first star to do so

Lionel Messi is in danger of having to get an early ticket home from the World Cup. Argentina will be eliminated if they fail to beat Nigeria in Group D on Tuesday.

But the Barcelona forward will not be the first footballing star to have had an early end to a World Cup.

Sports editor Graham Caygill looks at some other big names who have had to pack their suitcases early in the past. Click here for his piece.

Lionel Messi's Argentina could be dumped out of the World Cup. Juan Mabromata / AFP
Lionel Messi's Argentina could be dumped out of the World Cup. Juan Mabromata / AFP

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2.25pm: 10 men who play better for country then club

"He doesn't do that for his club." How many times have you heard someone shout that while watching an international match?

The enigma of how some footballers perform far better for their country than club has been going on for decades, and the World Cup in Russia has been no different.

Our online editor Ian Oxborrow has drawn up a list of 10 players who turn it on more often for their country than their club. Be sure to check it out here.

Granit Xhaka, left, and Xherdan Shaqiri have been Switzerland. But their club careers have not exactly taken off. Laurent Gillieron / EPA
Granit Xhaka, left, and Xherdan Shaqiri have been Switzerland. But their club careers have not exactly taken off. Laurent Gillieron / EPA

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1pm: Van Marwijk's last game? He doesn't think so ...

Managing the weakest team in a group boasting France and Denmark, Bert van Marwijk was given little hope of leading the team through to the knockout rounds.

Given that the 36th-ranked Socceroos are still alive, his short tenure can be seen as something of a success.

Australia need to beat 11th-ranked Peru in Sochi on Tuesday and hope that France defeat Denmark at the same time to have a chance of reaching the last 16.

The Socceroos' fate may be out of their hands - and goal difference may ultimately deny them - but Van Marwijk is convinced that the seas will part for them.

"I hope and I think that we will stay here in Kazan," a relaxed Van Marwijk said in the changing room at the team's training base.

You can read the full story here, but before that here's the Soccerroos fans' version of Waltzing Matilda, Australia's best-known bush song.

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12.25pm: Pekerman dedicates Colombia win to Sanchez

Colombia manager Jose Pekerman dedicated his side's crucial 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday to midfielder Carlos Sanchez after reports the midfielder received death threats for his red card against Japan.

Sanchez has had "a very hard time" dealing with the fallout from his third-minute sending-off in the 2-1 defeat to Japan in Colombia's opening game, Pekerman said.

He said he spoke for the whole squad when he dedicated Colombia's win over Poland to the 32-year-old player.

"This victory is dedicated to Carlos Sanchez, because he's had a very hard time in the past days. I want, and we want, to share it with him," he said.

Full story here.

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11.15am: Even kangaroos love football!

The World Cup fever seems to have swept across Australia.

A pitch-invading kangaroo halted a football match after it refused to leave a stadium in Canberra on Sunday.

Match video showed the kangaroo laying down on the penalty spot during the half-time break at Deakin Stadium.

The kangaroo was then guided away from the pitch by a vehicle before the match resumed, only for the kangaroo to jump back onto the field for a second time.

After about 30 minutes of making his presence on the pitch, the kangaroo made his final exit before the National Premier League match resumed until full time.

Click here for the full story, watch the video below.

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10.25am: What's common between Harry Kane, Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa?

Harry Kane isn't a footballer you'd expect to be mixing with celebrities on social media.

The England striker, who banged in a hat-trick in his side's 6-1 victory over Panama on Sunday, is known to shun the glitzy lifestyle and drama that his earnings can afford him. He has however struck up an overnight bond with pop stars Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa, our online editor Ian Oxborrow writes.

Kane, who scored two penalties in yesterday's victory, was put on the spot again in a post-match interview when he was asked to pick a song to play on a Brazilian programme, and his response was: "I'll go 'One Kiss' by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa."

To read Ian's story, click here.

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9.30am: Salah training, but is everything alright?

Mohamed Salah was seen training with his Egypt teammates, but he seemed rather aloof, perhaps not altogether happy. Whatever be the reasons - and there have been speculations as to why - his team have been unable to make the knockout stages of the World Cup. We have a photo gallery of Salah training ahead of their final Group A match against Saudi Arabia.

Swipe from left to right to see photos.

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8.50am: Day 12 is here!

'Morning football fans, we bring you Day 12 from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But first a recap of what was an exciting day's action on Sunday.

Harry Kane-led England kicked off proceedings by hammering a feisty Panamanian side 6-1, with the captain scoring a hat-trick and John Stones missing out on one. While most expected the Tottenham Hotspur striker to score heavily, few would have thought the Manchester City centre-back would net one goal, let alone two.

You can read all about it in our English football correspondent Richard Jolly's piece - including interesting comments from England manager Gareth Southgate - by clicking here.

Also worth reading over your morning cup of coffee, tea or any other beverage of your choice (or no beverage at all) is our London editor Seth Jacobson's daily takeaways from the tournament. Seth's piece is curiously titled "Dirty Harry, wild weekend and group therapy". If this piques your interest, go ahead and read it here.

Saudi Arabia players attend a training session in Volgograd, Russia, on Sunday ahead of their dead rubber against Egypt. Zurab Kurtsikidze / EPA
Saudi Arabia players attend a training session in Volgograd, Russia, on Sunday ahead of their dead rubber against Egypt. Zurab Kurtsikidze / EPA

Today's action

As for today's games, we have four. But be mindful of the change in timings.

Two matches kick off at 6pm: Saudi Arabia v Egypt, which is a dead rubber in Group A with neither side having a chance to make the knockout stages. A morale-boosting win is the need of the hour for both sides so the game being played at the Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, should be action-packed and entertaining.

Also at 6pm is the other Group A game, between the teams that did progress: Uruguay and Russia. The South Americans will be favourites to win in the Samara Arena, Samara, but with the hosts in such good form playing at home, an upset should not be ruled out.

Two games - both in Group B - get under way at 10pm: Iran v Portugal at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk, and Spain v Morocco at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad.

Iran-Portugal is very much a live game with the result certain to have an impact on which two teams will qualify from Group B. A Portgual win, led by the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo, will see them through. But who knows, Iran can always spring a surprise.

Spain need only to draw if Iran are beaten or held by Portugal. But a win is a must if Iran get over the Portuguese side. Morocco are already out.