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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

World Cup talking points, Day 9: Nigeria's gift to Argentina, Tite's tumble and a controversial eagle gesture

All the things that are hogging the conversation after the latest day of action in Russia 2018

Ahmed Musa of Nigeria celebrates after scoring his team's first goal against Iceland at Volgograd Arena. Kevin C Cox/Getty Images
Ahmed Musa of Nigeria celebrates after scoring his team's first goal against Iceland at Volgograd Arena. Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

Nigeria’s win gives Argentina hope

Nigeria’s shock 2-0 win against Iceland has given hope to Argentina, who are currently languishing at the bottom of Group D. Croatia are leading the group after their win against Jorge Sampaoli’s men on Thursday but there’s still all to play for as any of the teams could finish in second place.

Nigeria play Argentina next with the African team’s fans undoubtedly hoping Ahmed Musa will be able to repeat his double goal-scoring success.

VAR “gets it right”

Brazil finally got their first win of the tournament, with stoppage time goals from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar against Costa Rica placing them at the top of Group E.

But earlier on in the game things were looking a bit desperate for Brazil, who missed out on a penalty after referee Bjorn Kuipers reversed his initial decision, having consulted the Video Assistant Referee system.

The VAR showed that Giancarlo Gonzalez had not committed a foul on Neymar, who went down easy. The right decision, according to British football pundit, Gary Lineker.

Tite goes head over heels

Brazil’s manager Tite took a tumble while celebrating Philipe Coutinho’s last-minute winner, leaving the 57-year-old a little red-faced.

"I think I kind of pulled a muscle,” Tite said after the match.

"I'm limping now after the celebration. We were a bit over-excited.”

Unsurprisingly, the fall was quickly picked up by football fans on Twitter.

Group E elimination

Brazil’s victory sealed Costa Rica’s fate as the central American country became the fifth team to be eliminated from this year’s World Cup.

Costa Rica defended heavily against footballing giants Brazil with coach Oscar Ramirez admitting there was nothing else they could have done.

"What we did I think was perfect,” he said. “You have to think we were playing against the second best team in the world. They have great players.

"Considering what I have at my disposal and what they have, I think it is reasonable what we did."

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Read more:

Xhaka and Shaqiri put Switzerland on the verge of last 16 at World Cup

Ahmed Musa's double sets Nigeria up with showdown with Lionel Messi and Argentina for a last 16 spot at World Cup

World Cup 2018 Day 9 as it happened: Delight for Switzerland as Brazil and Nigeria win

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Double-headed eagle sparks controversy

Xherdan Shaqiri’s last gasp goal against Serbia could well have ensured Switzerland’s safe passage through the group stages but his and teammate Granit Xhaka’s celebrations sparked controversy on Friday evening.

Both players made the symbol of the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania’s national flag by opening their hands together with thumbs locked and fingers outstretched.

A combo of two pictures shows the celebration for the first goal of Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, (L), and the victory goal of Switzerland's midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, (R), both making the eagle emblem of the Kosovo during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group E preliminary round soccer match between Switzerland and Serbia at the Arena Baltika Stadium, in Kaliningrad, Russia.  Laurent Gillieron/ EPA
A combo of two pictures shows the celebration for the first goal of Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, (L), and the victory goal of Switzerland's midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, (R), both making the eagle emblem of the Kosovo during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group E preliminary round soccer match between Switzerland and Serbia at the Arena Baltika Stadium, in Kaliningrad, Russia.  Laurent Gillieron/ EPA

Xhaka’s parents are from Kosovo and of Albanian heritage, while Shaqiri was born in Kosovo.

Serbia does not recognise Kosovo, a former Serbian province, as an independent state and the move would likely inflame tensions among Serbian fans.

The gesture could mean the players face punishment from FIFA for flouting a ban on making political statements during celebrations.