FIFA World Cup matchday 11: Key takeaways as England and Colombia shine in big victories


Colombia revived their World Cup hopes with 3-0 vanquish of Poland, while England registered their biggest ever World Cup victory with Panama pwning

England qualified for the last 16 with a 6-1 shellacking of Panama as Harry Kane bagged a hattrick, while Colombia sent Poland packing after a 3-0 whitewash and blow the group wide open, that also saw Japan and Senegal share the spoils in a 2-2 draw. A total of 14 goals were scored in all, a tournament high matching the feat last pulled off in 1986.
All the major takeaways from a very happening matchday 11 at the World Cup:

#5 England set-piece specialty is their trump card

Ask the next England fan you meet when was the last time the Three Lions were this terrifying. Probably even he wouldn’t remember. But Gareth Southgate’s side has truly hit the throttle with this landmark triumph today. And one peculiar thing to emerge from both their victories is the set-piece threat – four goals of the 8 they’ve scored so far have stemmed through set-pieces.
After Kane bagged a brace against Tunisia through chances created from a corner, today John Stones was the beneficiary of the same, heading two goals in the first-half from well-worked corners. In fact, the seeds were sown right in the warm-up game to Nigeria when Gary Cahill struck a header from a corner in the 2-1 win and looks like England have specialized in set-pieces now.
This bodes well for the Three Lions going forward, as they have a lethal weapon in their armor which they could turn to against bigger and better oppositions.

#4 England need to avoid defensive lapses

With the six goals plundered today, the Three Lions demonstrated how dangerous they can be in the attack. But there’s still no excuse to concede to a team like Panama. The cracks were visible right from the opening exchanges when Edgar Barcenas shot just wide off the post, while a better player in his position would’ve likely buried it. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was supposed to be a passenger today but instead endured a busy outing, having been called into action on numerous occasions.
Jose Rodriguez and Barcenas caused plenty of problems to the England wingbacks with swift movements and crosses from the flanks. Centre-back Roman Torres wasted a glorious chance from a corner when he nudged the ball agonizingly wide off the post before Baloy finally exploited the kinks in England’s armor for Panama’s first ever goal in the World Cup finals.
Danny Rose and Fabian Delph cut a perplexed figure when the corner was sent in, allowing Baloy to pounce on it and pull one back for the debutants. For all of England’s might at the offensive end of the pitch, there are still some issues to be ironed out at the back to avoid conceding cheap goals like these.

#3 Japan let down by poor final balls

Japan showed tremendous nerves of steel to fight back twice in the contest against Senegal to force a share of the spoils. Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda bagged a goal apiece to secure a vital point for the Blue Samurai, but could’ve bagged all three available had they mustered a bit more clinical in the final third. Especially with the final ball.
Japan was impressive on the attacking front, building out from the back patiently and dominating possession. They played plenty of balls at the forwards but it was either wayward or well off the mark. Shibasaki and Hasebe were the chief providers from the flanks, but the final ball was disappointing. Plenty of chances went begging as Japan also conceded possession meekly in or around the area.
With the lack of firepower, the Japanese attack left a lot to be desired. And even if the draw doesn’t undo their cause, a likely win was let slip through the grasp thanks to the shortcomings up front.

#2 Lewandowski goes missing again when it matters

Make no mistake, the Bayern Munich star was the key to Poland’s first appearance in the World Cup finals since 2006, accounting for 57% of their goals in the qualifiers and also finishing as the top scorer in Europe with 16 goals in 10 games. But his anonymity in both the group games so far has spelled only disappointment.
Like in the opener against Senegal, Lewandowski drew a blank and offered little threat in the box. Although both of Poland’s shots on target in the match is to his credits, they lacked the firepower to rattle Colombia. The centre-back pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina kept him at arm’s length, outmuscling him on the ball and not letting him any space or time to work his magic.
That negated Poland’s single biggest threat and therein lies Colombia’s true victory. Lewandowski was touted to be a contender for the Golden Boot at the start of the tournament, but he’s been far from living up to those expectations.

#1 Colombia punish Poland for atrocious defense

The Cafeteros made mincemeat of the Polish defense will three well-worked goals aided by their own fragility. There was nobody to mark Rodriguez when he laid off for Mina for the opener, while the Barcelona star was unchallenged in the air. Pazdan and Bednarek were shockingly unresponsive when the set-piece was being executed as if they were willingly letting their Colombian counterpart take his shot.
Another moment of defensive lapse in the second-half saw Falcao race clear and arrow a shot into the far post, while Poland was caught on the break in trying to press forward as Rodriguez laid off for Cuadrado, who ran through the acres of space left between the defense to cap off a rout.
The deficiencies were there in the 2-1 defeat to Senegal when M’Baye Niang caught them napping before scoring his side’s second goal, but Poland refused to heed to it. And the price they paid for it huge, as they’re going back home after the first round in a highly disappointing campaign.

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