Iceland Elects Europe’s First Women-Majority Parliament

Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir talks to supporters of her Left-Green Movement at a party event in Reykjavik on September 25, 2021, after the announcement of partial results in the country’s general elections. (Photo by Tom LITTLE / AFP)

 

 

Iceland on Sunday became the first country in Europe to have more women than men in parliament, a day after a general election that saw the left-right coalition win a clear majority.

Of the 63 seats in the Althing parliament, 33 were won by women, or 52 per cent, projections based on the final results showed on Sunday.

No other European country has had more than 50 per cent women lawmakers, with Sweden coming closest at 47 per cent, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

Around the world, five other countries currently have parliaments where women hold at least half the seats, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union: Rwanda (61 per cent), Cuba (53 per cent), Nicaragua (51 percent) and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (50 per cent).

Unlike some other countries, Iceland does not have legal quotas on female representation in parliament, though some parties do require a minimum number of candidates be women.

The Nordic country has long been a pioneer in gender equality and women’s rights and has topped the World Economic Forum’s ranking of most egalitarian countries for the past 12 years.

Iceland was the first country to elect a woman as president in 1980.

“I am 85, I’ve waited all my life for women to be in a majority… I am really happy,” Erdna, a Reykjavik resident, told AFP.

PM’s future in doubt

While Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s left-right coalition won a majority in Saturday’s vote, it remained to be seen whether the three parties would continue to govern together.

The coalition has brought Iceland four years of stability after a decade of political crises, but Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement emerged weakened after losing ground to its right-wing partners, which both posted strong showings.

The Left-Green Movement, the Conservative Independence Party and the Centre-Right Progressive Party together won 37 of 63 seats in parliament, up from the 33 they held before the vote.

But the Left-Green Movement itself won only eight seats, three fewer than in 2017, raising questions about Jakobsdottir’s future as prime minister.

The largest party remained the Independence Party, whose leader Bjarni Benediktsson — the current finance minister and a former prime minister — has been eyeing Jakobsdottir’s job.

It won almost a quarter of votes and hung on to its 16 seats.

But the election’s big winner was the center-right Progressive Party, which gained five seats, to 13.

After four years of concessions on all sides to keep the peace within the coalition, it is conceivable that the two right-wing parties may want to try to form a government without the Left Greens.

Speaking to private broadcaster Stod 2 on Sunday, Jakobsdottir refused to be drawn on the coalition’s future discussions, saying only that her government had received “remarkable” support in the election.

Strange bedfellows

Progressive Party leader Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson and Independence Party leader Benediktsson meanwhile both said Sunday they were open to discussing a continuation of the coalition, citing voters’ strong support.

Benediktsson told Stod 2 it was “normal for parties that have worked together for four years and had good personal relations” to try to continue together, but told public broadcaster RUV he wasn’t certain they would succeed.

He also wouldn’t necessarily push for the post of prime minister, he said.

The unusual coalition mixing left and right came about after the 2017 elections, in a bid to bring stability to the nation after years of political upheaval.

Deep public distrust of politicians amid repeated scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times from 2007 to 2017.

This is only the second time since 2008 that a government has made it to the end of its four-year mandate on the sprawling island, and the first time since 2003 that a government has retained its majority.

Broadly popular during her four-year term, Jakobsdottir has introduced a progressive income tax system, increased the social housing budget and extended parental leave for both parents.

She has also been hailed for her handling of the Covid-19 crisis, with just 33 deaths in the country of 370,000.

AFP

Five Things To Know About Iceland

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 07, 2021 the downtown area of Reykjavik, the capital of the north atlantic island of Iceland is seen from the tower of the Hallgrim Church. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

From its thousand-year-old parliament and threatened natural wonders to singer Bjork and the collapse of its banks in 2008. Here are five things you need to know about Iceland before the country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.

– Ancient parliament –

The Althing, with its 63 seats, is considered the world’s oldest parliament still in use. The first sessions were held out in the open air, starting in 930, in Thingvellir near Reykjavik.

Every summer in mid-June, an assembly of representatives of the nation, descended from the first Viking settlers and greatly influenced by their Norwegian roots, passed new laws and dispensed justice.

Until 1798, the Althing met in various forms at the now historic site, where only the moss-covered rocky hills remain today. The Parliament was dissolved for almost half a century after a royal decree from Denmark — from which Iceland did not become independent until 1944.

It was re-established in 1845, before moving to the building currently used in Reykjavik in 1881.

[READ ALSO] ‘Burnt Out’: Philippine Nurses Battle COVID-19, Resignations

– 2008, the fall of the financial ‘wizards’ –

For a long time Iceland depended on fishing, but in the early 2000s the banking sector started growing at a rapid pace, boosted by deregulation of the sector and adventurous ventures abroad.

At the outset of the 2008 crisis, the combined balance sheet of the then three major banks was more than ten times the country’s annual GDP.

But when the US investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, they suddenly found themselves unable to refinance and disaster struck and the Icelandic currency plummeted leading to soaring inflation.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 07, 2021 the downtown area of Reykjavik, the capital of the north atlantic island of Iceland is seen from the tower of the Halgrim Church.  (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

After several months of the “pots and pans revolution”, which saw thousands of demonstrators drumming on kitchen utensils in front of the parliament, the government resigned at the end of January 2009.

Buoyed by assistance from the International Monetary Fund, Iceland eventually managed to get back on its feet, in particular thanks to tourism.

– Feminist land –

When men were busy out fishing at the sea, Icelandic women for a long time filled the traditional role as the caretakers of the home.

But on October 24, 1975, they organised one of the founding events of modern feminism: 90 percent of the island nation’s women stopped working and 25,000 of them took to the streets of Reykjavik to demonstrate their indispensable contribution to society.

Five years later, the seminal strike was followed by the accession to power of president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, making her the world’s first woman to be democratically as a president.

– Home of Bjork –

Singer Bjork is Iceland’s most famous cultural export. She has challenged gender stereotypes within pop culture and been a vocal advocate for environmental issues.

Despite coming from a country of just some 370,000 inhabitants, the eclectic performer has gained international fame, first as the singer of alternative rock band The Sugarcubes and after the band’s breakup as a solo artist.

– Land of ice in peril –

Although glaciers still cover over 10 percent of Iceland’s surface – an attribute that earned the country its name — their surface area has shrunk by nearly 2,200 square kilometres in the last 150 years, and the pace is accelerating due to the changing climate.

Scientists also believe the melting ice could spark a volcanic revival in what is already Europe’s most active region — an eruption occurs on average every five years.

AFP

Iceland Tightens Restrictions After Spike In COVID-19 Cases

 

Iceland, up to now one of the countries to have fared better against the coronavirus, has announced a tightening of restrictions after a spike in new cases since the middle of last month.

The health ministry said late Saturday that starting from Monday, most sports facilities, bars and discotheques will be closed while gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 20 people.

Supermarkets will be allowed up to 100 customers while swimming pools must operate at only 50 per cent of capacity.

These restrictions will last two to three weeks, the ministry said.

“In recent days, the number of new cases on a daily basis has been relatively steady at 30 to 40 so it is clear that current measures have not been enough to adequately control the epidemic,” chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason said in a statement addressed to the ministry.

Iceland’s health authorities have adopted targeted measures — for example discotheques in the capital  Reykjavik re-opened only last Monday after a 10-day shutdown — combined with general hygiene rules and social distancing in a bid to control the virus.

The latest steps come after coronavirus outbreaks in two nursing homes in Rekyavik and a sharp increase in hospitalisations, up seven-fold over a week.

“The hospital is not as well prepared to cope with an influx of patients as it was in the spring,” Pall Matthiasson, head of the Iceland University Hospital, said in a message to the public and staff on its website Friday.

Over the past 19 days, Iceland has reported 663 new cases, mostly in Reykjavik and surrounding areas.

Iceland, home to 365,000 people, has recorded 2,872 cases and 10 deaths since the outbreak began early this year.

AFP

Ten-Man England Narrowly Beat Iceland In Nations League Opener

England's forward Raheem Sterling (front) and Iceland's defender Hjortur Hermannsson vie for the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match between Iceland v England on September 5, 2020 in Reykjavik. Haraldur Gudjonsson / AFP
England’s forward Raheem Sterling (front) and Iceland’s defender Hjortur Hermannsson vie for the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match between Iceland v England on September 5, 2020 in Reykjavik. Haraldur Gudjonsson / AFP

 

Raheem Sterling’s last-minute penalty salvaged England from another embarrassing result against Iceland as Gareth Southgate’s men survived going down to 10 men and Birkir Bjarnason also missing a late spot-kick to start their Nations League campaign with a 1-0 in Reykjavik on Saturday.

Four years on from one of English football’s most embarrassing nights in losing 2-1 to Iceland at Euro 2016, the Three Lions were far from the free-scoring force that romped through Euro 2020 qualifying in their first match for 10 months.

Harry Kane had an early goal wrongly ruled out for offside before Kyle Walker was sent-off for two bookable offences 20 minutes from time.

All of Iceland’s good defensive work was undone in the 89th minute when Sverrir Ingason was also harshly dismissed for a second booking when he blocked Sterling’s shot with his arm.

With Kane having been replaced by Mason Greenwood, Sterling took responsibility from spot, but the drama did not end there.

Straight from kick-off, Joe Gomez was adjudged to have bundled over Holmbert Fridjonsson inside the area, but Bjamason blazed the resulting penalty over.

Southgate handed an international debut to Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, while Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse started for the first time in a competitive fixture for his country in an experimental line-up.

England's forward Harry Kane shoots the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match between Iceland v England on September 5, 2020 in Reykjavik. Haraldur Gudjonsson / AFP
England’s forward Harry Kane shoots the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match between Iceland v England on September 5, 2020 in Reykjavik.
Haraldur Gudjonsson / AFP

 

However, there was still plenty of enough experience and promise in a front three of Kane, Sterling, and Jadon Sancho for England to have had a far more comfortable afternoon in Reykjavik.

Kane had the ball in the net for what he thought was his 33rd international goal inside six minutes when he bundled in at the back post.

However, the England captain was wrongly flagged for offside and with no VAR in operation, the visitors were denied.

Sancho has been linked with a move to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund for more than £100 million in recent months and the 20-year-old was England’s most dangerous weapon early on as he eased past his marker before teeing up Declan Rice, who miscued his shot with the best chance of the first half.

Arnor Traustason curled a free-kick wide with Iceland’s only attempt on goal until stoppage time, but the move leading to that effort still proved costly for England as Walker picked up his first yellow card.

Southgate’s men continued to enjoy the vast majority of possession in the second period, but the closest they came to breaking the deadlock before the dramatic finale was when Iceland’s Kari Arnason flicked Kieran Trippier’s free-kick onto his own post.

Moments later Walker’s ill-judged lunge to break up an Icelandic counter-attack left his side a man down.

A breakthrough did not look like coming until Sterling collected an overhit corner and the ball struck Ingason’s arm in his attempt to block the shot.

Sterling coolly rolled his penalty straight down the middle and how Bjarnason wish he had showed the same composure as his wild finish let England off the hook.

 

AFP

Iceland President Re-Elected With 92 Percent Of Vote

Sitting President of Iceland, Gudni Th Johannesson gives an interview after he casted his vote at the polling station ‘Altanesskoli’ in Gardabaer, Iceland on June 27, 2020. Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP.

 

Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson has been re-elected with a whopping 92 percent of the vote, according to final results released on Sunday.

The former history professor won his second four-year term in the largely symbolic position in Saturday’s vote, the second election held by a European country after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted.

Since suffering spectacular bank failures in 2008, the volcanic North Atlantic island of 365,000 inhabitants has recovered some economic and political stability, which worked in the 52-year-old independent’s favour.

The final results showed he took 92.2 percent of the 168,821 votes cast, crushing rightwing challenger Gudmundur Franklin Jonsson.

“I am honoured and proud,” the president told AFP in Reykjavik on election night.

“This result of this election is, to me, proof of the fact that my fellow Icelanders… have approved of how I have approached this office.”

The dominant win had been predicted by opinion polls, which had shown the president winning between 90 to 94 percent.

Voter Hjalmtyr Heiddal told AFP on Sunday that he “very happy” with the winning margin because “it means that 92 percent of Icelanders want this type of president who does not take sides and is simply neutral.”

It is the second-highest margin of victory in the history of Iceland’s presidential elections.

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Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as head of state, holds the record, winning re-election in 1988 with 94.6 percent of the vote.

In this parliamentary republic, the president is largely symbolic, but he or she does have the power to veto legislation or submit it to a referendum.

There are no term limits — Johannesson’s predecessor Olafur Ragnar Grimsson served for five terms.

However Johannesson has said he would limit himself to two or three terms at the most.

Turnout for Saturday’s vote was 66.9 percent, dropping from 75.7 percent during Johannesson’s first election victory in 2016, when he became the country’s youngest president since independence in 1944.

The coronavirus pandemic had not been expected to affect voting, as the country has been only mildly infected. It has reported 10 deaths, and currently has around 11 active cases.

Challenger Jonsson is a former Wall Street broker close to Icelandic nationalists and a vocal fan of US President Donald Trump.

He campaigned on wanting Iceland’s president to play a more active role by exercising the right to veto legislation campaigns, but struggled to gain traction with voters.

“I send my congratulations to Gudni and his family,” Jonsson told public broadcaster RUV.

AFP

Iceland Confirms First Death From Coronavirus

A member of the Syrian Civil Defence known as the "White Helmets" disinfects a hospital room, as part of preventive measures taken against infections by the novel coronavirus, in the Syrian town of Dana, east of the Turkish-Syrian border in the northwestern Idlib province, on March 22, 2020. AAREF WATAD / AFP
A member of the Syrian Civil Defence known as the “White Helmets” disinfects a hospital room, as part of preventive measures taken against infections by the novel coronavirus, in the Syrian town of Dana, east of the Turkish-Syrian border in the northwestern Idlib province, on March 22, 2020. AAREF WATAD / AFP

 

Another 514 people have died in Spain over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 2,696, as the number of infections surged towards 40,000, the government said Tuesday. 

As the health authorities step up the number of tests, the number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 rose by nearly 20 percent to 39,673, the health ministry said.

At the same time, the death toll showed an increase of 23.5 percent over the figures from Monday.

The new figures came as the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was to seek parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency for an extra two weeks, until April 11, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Officials are hoping the rate of infections will peak within the coming days.

The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 12,352 infections — just under a third of the total — and 1,535 deaths, or 57 percent of the national figure.

With the city’s funeral services completely overwhelmed, Madrid officials have commandeered the Palacio de Hielo ice skating rink to serve as a temporary morgue in order to handle the surge in deaths.

The Spanish capital has also transformed part of a giant exhibition centre into a temporary field hospital with 1,500 beds and an intensive care unit which could be expanded take in up to 5,500 patients.

Government figures show there has also been an increase in people recovering, with the number reaching 3,794 on Tuesday after 439 were declared virus-free. Around 60 percent of the recoveries are in Madrid.

 

AFP

Mbappe Helps France Avoid Shock Iceland Defeat

France’s forward Kylian Mbappe (C) vies with Iceland’s goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson during the friendly football match between France and Iceland at the Roudourou Stadium in Guingamp, western France on October 11, 2018. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe inspired a fightback from world champions France as they rallied from two goals down at home to earn a 2-2 draw with Iceland on Thursday.

Birkir Bjarnason swept Iceland ahead from the edge of the area on 30 minutes, and Kari Arnason’s excellent second-half header doubled their lead in Guingamp.

But Mbappe, brought on as a substitute for the final half-hour, gave France a lifeline when his shot was saved and then inadvertently turned in by Iceland defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward levelled from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson handled at a corner.

France coach Didier Deschamps fielded six of the players that began the World Cup final against Croatia, handing in-form Marseille winger Florian Thauvin his first start as Mbappe was left on the bench.

Iceland were beaten 5-2 by France in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, and new coach Erik Hamren’s reign had started disastrously with two heavy defeats to open their Nations League campaign.

But the Nordic nation with a population of around 350,000 stunned the hosts in Brittany as Aston Villa midfielder Bjarnason beat Hugo Lloris with a low strike after Alfred Finnbogason stole the ball from Presnel Kimpembe.

Ousmane Dembele was denied an equaliser by a terrific block from Iceland goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson, while Hugo Lloris pulled off a stunning save from Ragnar Sigurdsson before keeping out follow-up efforts by Bjarnason and Finnbogason.

A searing Thauvin strike fizzed just over the crossbar early in the second half, with an Antoine Griezmann header also turned behind by Runarsson.

Arnason connected superbly at a corner, his header dropping in via the underside of the bar, as Iceland moved two goals clear on 58 minutes.

Mbappe promptly replaced Griezmann, and the teenager soon had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be correctly ruled out for offside.

It was a warning that went unheeded by Iceland, as Mbappe was at the origin of an attack that saw France pull a goal back with four minutes to play.

His shot from a tight angle was well saved by Runarsson but the rebound flew straight into the unwitting Eyjolfsson, who was helpless as the ball rolled over the line.

Mbappe then snatched a draw in the final minute with a nerveless spot-kick, before a clumsy foul on the jet-heeled forward in stoppage time sparked a confrontation between both sets of players over by the touchline.

France return to competitive action on Tuesday when they host Germany in the Nations League.

The two sides played out a 0-0 draw in their opening match of the competition in Munich last month.

AFP

Iceland Head Home From World Cup Heartbroken

Supporters of the Icelandic national football team react as they watch on a giant screen the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Iceland and Croatia on June 26, 2018 at Ingolfstorg square in the centre of Reykjavik. Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP

 

Gallant Iceland headed home heartbroken but unbowed after a premature end to their first World Cup adventure, ruing what might have been after a narrow defeat by Croatia.

Iceland caught the public imagination with their fairytale run to the quarter-finals at Euro 2016 in France and waltzed through qualifying for Russia, topping their group, which included Croatia.

At the World Cup they held their own in a section that also featured Argentina and Nigeria but were left to regret a string of near misses in their final match before Ivan Perisic sealed their fate with a last-minute winner on Tuesday.

“It’s sad to go out after that performance. We had more inside us and thought we would go further in the tournament,” said Sverrir Ingason.

“That was our best game of the World Cup, we had many chances to score,” added the defender, whose second-half header hit the crossbar.

After Milan Badelj put Croatia ahead early in the second half, a Gylfi Sigurdsson equaliser from a penalty meant the Nordic side were a goal away from their first-ever World Cup victory and a berth in the next round.

“We left everything on the pitch today. We go home proud from our first and not last World Cup,” said striker Alfred Finnbogason on Twitter alongside a picture of his shot which whistled past the post.

“We had chances to win it so of course there is disappointment,” said coach Heimir Hallgrimsson. “But we did everything we could. If you do that you shouldn’t be disappointed. We can look each other in the eye, hold our heads high.”

Bittersweet 

Thousands of fans travelled to distant Russia from the tiny nation — with a population of just 330,000, the smallest ever to qualify for a World Cup — while almost 100 percent of TV viewers were reported to have watched the games.

Hallgrimsson praised the close bond with their fans, famed for their so-called “Viking thunder-clap”, and said during the past six years the team had found its identity.

“We have really found our way. Everybody is on board in terms of football style, in character and values, and how we should behave as national team members,” he said.

Iceland drew their opening match 1-1 against Argentina before losing their second game against Nigeria 2-0.

Goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, who saved a Lionel Messi penalty in the Argentina match, said he was optimistic about the team’s prospects.

“There is a bright future ahead,” said the 34-year-old goalkeeper, who is also an accomplished film-maker, one of several members of the team with another job.

The World Cup was a “great experience, albeit bittersweet having been so close,” Iceland football association official Omar Smarason told AFP.

It was “one big chapter in the ongoing and rising history of Icelandic football. Success is not a destination, it is an endless journey. We hope to continue that journey for as long as we can,” he said.

AFP

Iceland Crash Out Of World Cup After Croatia Loss

Iceland’s players react at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Iceland and Croatia at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on June 26, 2018.
JOE KLAMAR / AFP

 

Croatia secured first place in Group D on Tuesday after a hard-fought 2-1 win over gallant Iceland in Rostov-on-Don, setting up a World Cup last-16 tie with Denmark.

While most eyes were on Argentina and their do-or-die match with Nigeria in Saint Petersburg, Croatia wrapped up top spot in the group thanks to a slick second-half volley by Milan Badelj and a late strike by Ivan Perisic, sandwiching a penalty equaliser from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

“We did everything we could, if you do that you can’t be disappointed, we can look each other in the eye and can carry our heads high,” said Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson afterwards.

“We never gave up… kept on going.”

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said Iceland showed “good character, discipline, and fight” but that even though his side were already through to the last 16, “only a win was satisfactory” for him.

With three wins out of three in Group D, “the focus now moves to the Denmark game, it will be a moment of truth”, he said.

Dalic rested most of the side that thumped Argentina 3-0, with only captain Luka Modric and winger Perisic keeping their places.

“We gave the squad a chance to play in the World Cup but from this moment on the group stage is over, we have done our job,” he said.

Needing a point to make certain of top spot, Croatia dominated early on, with Real Madrid pair Modric and Mateo Kovacic dictating the tempo without creating clear chances.

Midway through the opening period the Nordic side, who had beaten Croatia in qualifying for Russia, took control, threatening from set-pieces and interceptions.

On 25 minutes a trademark long throw from Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson was headed dangerously across the goalmouth by the industrious Hordur Magnusson.

Everton’s Sigurdsson tested goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic from a free-kick, while Birkir Bjarnason, who suffered a nosebleed early on, had shots blocked in quick succession.

Just before the break, a drive by Alfred Finnbogasson whistled past the post. Then on the stroke of half-time, Gunnarsson forced an acrobatic save from Kalinic.

‘Let’s go further’

Soon after the break the match turned when Fiorentina midfielder Badelj first clipped the bar with a long-range drive, then made no mistake soon after on 53 minutes.

The 29-year-old got his right foot over a deflected cross and fired a volley wide of Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson to give Croatia the lead.

“Now we can concentrate on preparations for the knockout stage,” said Badelj. “This is a big new win for Croatia. There is no special celebration, let’s go further, step by step through the tournament.”

Iceland had to claim their first ever World Cup victory to have a chance of advancing and, urged on by fans chanting their famous Viking thunderclap, almost equalised immediately.

First, a flick-on from another Gunnarsson long throw found Sverrir Ingason whose header was tipped over by Kalinic.

Moments later Ingason, who plays his club football for Rostov, went even closer but his header hit the crossbar.

On 73 minutes Bjarnason fluffed a close-range opportunity, but Iceland’s lifeline arrived a minute later when Dejan Lovren handled a cross by Sigurdsson in the penalty area.

Sigurdsson had ballooned a penalty over the bar against Nigeria, but this time dispatched his shot into the roof of the net with Kalinic diving the wrong way.

But as Iceland strained for the winner and a surprise berth in the last 16, it was Croatia who threatened more, free-kicks by Perisic and Rakitic worrying Halldorsson.

Then on 90 minutes, Perisic delivered the final blow.

Sent into space on the left of the area the Inter Milan winger blasted a shot that ended both the game and Iceland’s World Cup, putting Croatia through to a match against the Danes in Nizhny Novogrod on Sunday.

“We did not look the best on the pitch today, but it’s important to win on such occasions,” said Perisic. “Denmark are strong. We need to play much better if we want to reach the quarter-finals.”

AFP

Nigeria’s Thrilling Victory Over Iceland In Photos

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (C) beats Iceland’s goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on his way to scoring their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018.
Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Ahmed Musa struck twice to become the first Nigerian to score at two World Cups Friday as the Super Eagles secured a crucial 2-0 win over Iceland, who missed a penalty.

The African side will secure a spot in the knockout stage if they beat Argentina on Tuesday in Group D’s final round of fixtures.

A draw would be enough to eliminate the Argentines but would leave Nigeria’s fate hinging on the outcome of Iceland’s game against Croatia.

Musa, who came into the starting line-up in place of Alex Iwobi, announced himself with two of the goals of the tournament so far.

Musa’s sweetly struck half-volley fired Nigeria into the lead just after half-time before he added a second with 15 minutes to go to make the Group D game safe.

Iceland got a lifeline in the 82nd minute with a VAR-awarded penalty but dead-ball specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed over the bar.

World Cup: Ahmed Musa Stars As Nigeria Claim First Victory

World Cup: Ahmed Musa Stars As Nigeria Claim First Victory
(L-R) Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Nigeria’s midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo celebrate at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Philippe DESMAZES / AFP

 

Ahmed Musa struck twice to become the first Nigerian to score at two World Cups Friday as the Super Eagles secured a crucial 2-0 win over Iceland, who missed a penalty.

The African side will secure a spot in the knockout stage if they beat Argentina on Tuesday in Group D’s final round of fixtures.

A draw would be enough to eliminate the Argentines but would leave Nigeria’s fate hinging on the outcome of Iceland’s game against Croatia.

Musa, who came into the starting line-up in place of Alex Iwobi, announced himself with two of the goals of the tournament so far.

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (L) celebrates with Nigeria’s defender Leon Balogun after scoring their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Musa’s sweetly struck half-volley fired Nigeria into the lead just after half-time before he added a second with 15 minutes to go to make the Group D game safe.

Iceland got a lifeline in the 82nd minute with a VAR-awarded penalty but dead-ball specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed over the bar.

With Croatia heading the group on six points Nigeria knew a second defeat would mean elimination and Iceland started brightest after coach Heimir Hallgrimsson changed to a 4-4-2 from the 4-5-1 he had used in the 1-1 draw with Argentina.

Alfred Finnbogason, who scored the equaliser against Argentina as a lone striker, was joined up front by Jon Bodvarsson and the pair quickly made an impact.

Captain Aron Gunnarsson launched a long throw into the box and, after Bodvarsson had made a nuisance of himself, a push gave Iceland a free-kick just outside the area.

– Unstoppable half-volley –

Gylfi Sigurdsson struck it smoothly round the wall but 19-year-old goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was able to make the save high to his right.

Nigeria, with captain John Obi Mikel sitting deeper in midfield than against Croatia, slowly worked their way into the game with Victor Moses a constant threat on the right flank.

The pace inevitably dropped with the temperature still a stifling 31 Celsius at the 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) local time kickoff.

The match became a stalemate until 10 minutes before half-time when Iceland came close to opening the scoring but Leon Balogun’s glancing header just did enough to thwart Gylfi Sigurdsson and Birkir Bjarnason lurking at the back post.

And on the stroke of half-time Finnbogason came within a whisker of doubling his World Cup tally when he flashed wide Gylfi Sigurdsson’s whipped in free-kick.

Gernot Rohr brought on wing back Tyronne Ebuehi for Bryan Idowu at the start of the second half and Nigeria came out full of running.

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (L) and teammates celebrate their victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

The tireless Moses was released down the right and his cross was met by Musa who teed up the ball deftly with the outside of his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net.

As he wheeled away in celebration his knee caught Ragnar Sigurdsson in the back of the head and the Iceland defender needed treatment, a bandage and a change of shirt after sustaining a nasty cut.

Wilfred Ndidi forced Hannes Halldorsson into a fine fingertip save with a wickedly dipping shot from distance in the 58th minute.

Musa made the game safe with his second, controlling a long ball without breaking stride and beating Kari Arnason before rounding Halldorsson and powering his shot past two covering defenders on the line.

AFP

World Cup Live: Nigeria Defeat Iceland 2-0 To Boost Last 16 Hope

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (L) vies with Iceland’s midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

 

The 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup is here. Welcome to our daily updates of the world’s biggest football competition.


Nigeria vs Iceland


 

READ ALSOAhmed Musa Stars As Nigeria Claim First Victory

90+7′ The referee blows the final whistle. Ball possession is Nigeria 57% – Iceland 43%.

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (L) and teammates celebrate their victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

90′ Super Eagles Midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo leaves the field to be replaced by Alex Iwobi in a tactical substitution.

Ball possession is Nigeria 59% – 41% Iceland.

82′ PENALTY – Nigeria’s Tyronne Ebuehi concedes a penalty for tripping Alfred Finnbogason.

Gylfi Sigurdsson from Iceland hits the crossbar and misses the spot kick.

75′ GOAAAAAL: A brilliant effort from Ahmed Musa to double Nigeria’s lead.

Kenneth Omeruo provided the assist for the goal.



66′ Nigeria create another good opportunity to extend their lead but Victor Moses sends the effort wide off target.

60′ Gylfi Sigurdsson from Iceland swings in the corner from the left to put Nigeria in a dangerous situation but Victor Moses relieves the pressure with a clearance.

57′ Danger as Onyinye Ndidi tries his luck from outside the box.

The shot is deflected and forces Hannes Thor Halldorsson into an uncomfortable save. It’s corner kick.

49′ G O O O A A A L – Ahmed Musa scores Nigeria’s first goal at the tournament.

Victor Moses provided the assist for the goal.

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa (L) celebrates with Nigeria’s defender Leon Balogun after scoring their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

A clever photoshop skill got Lionel Messi among the Super Eagles supporters.


Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring their opener during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP46′ The second half is underway.


Here are what Nigerians are saying about Eagles’ performance after the first half.



 

45+3′ The referee blows for half time.

45+1′ Birkir Saevarsson puts Nigeria in a dangerous situation with a cross.

William Troost-Ekong clears the danger but is forced to give away a corner.

A chance presents itself as Gylfi Sigurdsson swings in the corner from the left but Jon Dadi Boedvarsson’s header goes wide.

40′ Nigeria create a good opportunity to score as Onyinye Ndidi puts in a dangerous cross.

Hannes Thor Halldorsson rushes out to claim the ball. Ball possession is Nigeria 59% – 41% Iceland.


Reactions from Nigerians


31′ Ragnar Sigurdsson from Iceland cuts off the run of Kelechi Iheanacho, prompting the referee to award a free-kick. Oghenekaro Etebo crosses the ball into the box from the free-kick but it ends with a goal-kick.



20′ A chance for Nigeria as Victor Moses passes the ball in the box but it’s intercepted by an Iceland player.

The Super Eagles are still in control of the game with 58% – 42% ball possession.

Iceland’s defender Kari Arnason (C) falls past Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

14′ Pressure for the Super Eagles as a player from Iceland takes a long throw from the left side of the pitch into the opponent’s box. Captain John Mikel relieves the pressure.

10′ Nigeria take control of the ball and try to create a good chance.
Ball possession in the first 10 minutes is Nigeria 59% – 41% Iceland.
2′ Nigerian defender Brian Idowu is penalised for pushing Kari Arnason.
Gylfi Sigurdsson takes the free-kick and his strike forces a good save from Francis Uzoho.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper Francis Uzoho (L) catches the ball next to Iceland’s midfielder Aron Gunnarsson (back R) and Nigeria’s defender Kenneth Omeruo (R) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Philippe DESMAZES / AFP

4:00 pm: Match kicks off.


Nigeria

Francis Uzoho, Bryan Idowu, Wilfred Ndidi, William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Ahmed Musa, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Obi Mikel (capt), Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho, Kenneth Omeruo

Coach: Gernot Rohr (GER)


Iceland 

Hannes Halldorsson, Birkir Saevarsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alfred Finnbogason, Kari Arnason, Aron Gunnarsson (capt), Hordur Magnusson, Rurik Gislason, Jon Bodvarsson

Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson (ISL)

Referee: Matt Conger (NZL)



An Important Game

The match is very crucial for the Nigerian team because it will determine their fate at the competition as they are currently at the bottom of the table.

Nigeria lost their opening match to Croatia 2-0 while Argentina and Iceland played 1-1 last week.

The Croats continued their winning streak on Thursday when they beat Lionel Messi led Argentina team 3-0 to dominate the group.

Should the Super Eagles beat Iceland today, they will move to the second spot on the table with three points while Iceland and Argentina will remain at the bottom with one point apiece.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles Supporters’ Club fans are already in Volgograd ahead of the game.

The football supporters are anticipating a victory for the three-time African champions to stand a chance to advance to the round of 16 in the tournament.

A fan dressed as a prophet rang a bell and chanted a prayer predicting, a win for Nigeria while bemused Iceland fans watched them.

The Icelanders said they admired the show put up by the Nigerians but shrugged off the ‘prophet’s” prediction.


Here are some tweets in support of the Super Eagles below;

 

 

June 21, 2018


France vs Peru


France into World Cup knockout stage after beating Peru

France reached the last 16 of the World Cup on Thursday after Kylian Mbappe’s 34th-minute goal defeated Peru.

Mbappe, at 19 years and 183 days, became France’s youngest ever World Cup scorer but Peru will exit the tournament despite a spirited second-half performance.



Mbappe made the difference and France are into the knock out stage while Peru are out of the World Cup.


Full Time: France 1-0 Peru.


31′ Jose Guerrero from Peru found himself in a great scoring position but Hugo Lloris denied him with a brilliant save.

10′ Peru’s Alberto Rodriguez chips the ball into the penalty area but the ball gets into Hugo Lloris’ safe hands as he comes out to claim it.

Ball possession in the first 10 minutes is France 48% – 52% Peru.

4:00 pm Referee blows the opening whistle.

France’s forward Olivier Giroud (front) and Peru’s defender Alberto Rodriguez compete for the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 21, 2018. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 


Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group C game between France and Peru at Yekaterinburg Arena on Thursday (1500 GMT kick-off):

Giroud Starts For France In Peru Showdown
France’s forward Olivier Giroud (2R) attends with team-mates a training session at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 20, 2018 on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Peru. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France: Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe.

Coach: Didier Deschamps (FRA)

Peru: Pedro Gallese, Luis Advincula, Christian Ramos, Alberto Rodriguez, Miguel Trauco, Pedro Aquino, Yoshimar Yotun, Andre Carrillo, Christian Cueva, Edison Flores, Paolo Guerrero

Coach: Ricardo Gareca (ARG)


Denmark vs Australia


Thank you. Join us by 4:00 pm for the next match between France and Peru.

READ ALSODenmark Hold Australia To 1-1 Draw

90+4′ The referee blows the final whistle. Both teams played 1 all with ball possession: Denmark 49% – Australia 51%.

80′ Pione Sisto from Denmark has an opportunity and directs the ball behind the defence but the chance eventually goes begging.

72′ Tom Rogic from Australia shoots from outside the box but Kasper Schmeichel has it under control.

A few seconds later, Pione Sisto gets a wonderful chance to score but somehow misses the target!

57′ Denmark’s Lasse Schoene tries to head the ball to his team-mate but it is intercepted by an Australian player.

Simon Kjaer later commits a foul by elbowing Mile Jedinak from Australia.


45+3′ The referee blows the whistle for half time. The first part ended 1-1 with Denmark 46% – 54% ball possession.

45′ Simon Kjaer from Denmark crosses the ball, but his team mate arrives a little late and can’t benefit from it.

Safe hands from Mathew Ryan as he comes out and claims the ball.


 

38′ G O O O A A A A A A L – Mile Jedinak puts it away from the penalty spot!

The scoreline has been levelled.

37′ Yussuf Poulsen from Denmark is shown a yellow card by the referee.

The referee the situation and awards a penalty in favour of Australia.

20′ Tom Rogic from Australia creates a good chance when he cuts the opponents’ defence open with a through ball but Henrik Dalsgaard clears the danger for Denmark with a good tackle.

Denmark’s midfielder Christian Eriksen (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 21, 2018. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

 

7′ G O O O A A A A A A L – Denmark are now leading.

Christian Eriksen scored the goal while Nicolai Joergensen provided the assist.

6′ Australia’s Matthew Leckie has a great chance to score but sends his header wide of the goalpost.

It is goal-kick for Denmark.

1′ The referee starts the match. Denmark kick-off and the game is ongoing.


Australia coach Bert van Marwijk named an unchanged starting line-up for their crunch World Cup clash with Denmark on Thursday following their opening 2-1 defeat to France.

The Socceroos, who have made it into the last 16 only once, in 2006, need to beat the Danes to have any chance of repeating the feat.

Despite having several attacking options at his disposal, including veteran Tim Cahill and 19-year-old starlet Daniel Arzani, Van Marwijk has stuck with the same side that asked questions of France in the defeat in Kazan sealed by a late Aziz Behich own goal from a Paul Pogba strike.

Denmark opened their Group C campaign with a 1-0 win over Peru, in which Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel performed heroics before frontman Yussuf Poulsen hit the winner.

Schmeichel, the son of former Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel, is expected to be key to their hopes of a second straight win as the Aussies look to build on a solid defensive display against France by being more creative and, ultimately, scoring crucial goals.

Australia, however, will also be wary of danger man Christian Eriksen, the Tottenham midfielder who scored 11 of their goals in qualifying.

Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group C game between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena on Thursday (1200 GMT kick-off):

Denmark (4-3-3)

Kasper Schmeichel; Henrik Dalsgaard, Simon Kjaer (capt), Andreas Christensen, Jens Stryger Larsen; Thomas Delaney, Lasse Schoene, Christian Eriksen; Yussuf Poulsen, Nicolai Joergensen, Pione Sisto

Coach: Age Hareide (NOR)

Australia (4-2-3-1)

Mathew Ryan; Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich; Mile Jedinak (capt), Aaron Mooy; Mathew Leckie, Tom Rogic, Robbie Kruse; Andrew Nabbout

Coach: Bert van Marwijk (NED)

Referee: Antonio Mateu (ESP)

——————————————————————————————————–

June 17, 2018: Germany Vs Mexico


That is it for the game.

90′ + 4 Full-Time! Germany 0-1 Mexico

90′ Herrera picks up a late yellow card for a clumsy foul.

83 Yellow card Thomas Müller

Muller picks up Germany’s first yellow card of the game for a blatant shirt pull on Herrera.

Germany’s forward Thomas Mueller (L) receives a yellow card from Iranian referee Alireza Faghani during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17, 2018.
PHOTO: Juan Mabromata / AFP

 

70′ PENALTY SHOUT! Hernandez is found by a searching through ball and he  has the goal at his mercy. He comes under pressure from Hummels, falling to ground but he was certainly looking at it.

 

62 Into the final 30 minutes of the game both sides are still looking for at least one clear-cut opportunity to find the net. Mexico would love to double their lead but Germany are dictating the tempo of the game.

 

52′ Germany are enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the minutes since the restart but they’re yet to find a way through the Mexico defence.

 

46′  KICK-OFF! We are back underway.  

——————————————————————————————————

HALF-TIME: GERMANY 0-1 MEXICO

42′ There have been 9 shots on target in this game – the most in the first half of a World Cup game since 2006.

40′ Moreno picks up the game’s first yellow card for wasting time.

Mexico’s forward Hirving Lozano celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17, 2018. PHOTO: Yuri CORTEZ / AFP

35′ GOAL! Mexico 1-0! Lozano has been all over the Germany defence in the opening half hour and he’s finally got his reward. Hernandez leads the charge and feeds the PSV ace on the left, who cuts inside and fires into the bottom left-hand corner.

 

31′ It’s a very physical game, with fouls all over the field, but we’re still yet to see a huge chance for either side. The play in the final third so far has disappointed.

 

12′ Mexico remain dangerous and Germany are certainly not getting things all their own way. The atmosphere within the stadium is absolutely rocking.

 

9′ Free-kick to Mexico in a dangerous central position, which Layun is lurking over. However, his effort is way over Neuer’s bar.

 

3′ WIDE! Werner now showing his pace in the final third from Germany, latching onto Kimmich’s through ball but dragging a shot wide of the far post.

1′ KICK-OFF! Mexico get underway in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

 

Mexico subs: Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera, Marco Fabian, Raul Jimenez, Jonathan dos Santos, Giovani dos Santos, Edson Alvarez, Rafael Marquez, Oribe Peralta, Jesus Manuel Corona, Javier Aquino, Erick Gutierrez.
Germany subs: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp, Ilkay Gundogan, Mario Gomez, Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rudiger, Leon Goretzka, Julian Brandt, Marco Reus, Niklas Sule, Sebastian Rudy.
Mexico XI: Guillermo Ochoa; Carlos Salcedo, Hugo Ayala, Hector Moreno, Jesus Gallardo; Miguel Layun, Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera; Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano.
Germany XI: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Marvin Plattenhardt; Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos; Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler; Timo Werner.

 

Starting line-ups for the World Cup encounter between Germany and Mexico in Russia 2018 World Cup Group F match.


June 16, 2018.


That is is for today. Join us tomorrow for more updates.


Croatia Vs Nigeria (8:00 pm)


95′: The referee blows the final whistle. Full time, Croatia 2-0 Nigeria.

Nigeria’s players react after the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Croatia and Nigeria at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 16, 2018.
OZAN KOSE / AFP

75′: Ivan Perisic sends in a cross but Francis Uzoho comes out and claims the ball.


73′: Croatia start a counterattack: Great tackle by Troost-Ekong to avert danger for Super Eagles.


71′: GOOOAL! Luka Modric steps up and tucks it in. Croatia 2-0 Nigeria.

Croatia’s midfielder Luka Modric scores the penalty. Patrick HERTZOG / AFP

70′: PENALTY! The referee points to the spot after William Troost-Ekong pulls Mario Mandzukic by the shirt in the box. Not good for Nigeria.

Nigeria’s defender William Troost-Ekong (L) receives a yellow card from referee Sandro Ricci during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Croatia and Nigeria at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 16, 2018.
Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP

62′: Substitution for Nigeria: Alex Iwobi is replaced by Ahmed Musa.


60′: Croatia make the first change of the game. Andrej Kramaric is replaced by Marcelo Brozovic in a tactical substitution.


50′: Victor Moses puts Nigeria under pressure after fluffing an attempt to clear Sime Vrsaljko’s cross. He is let off the hook as Ivan Rakitic fails shoots wide from outside the box.


49′: Victor Moses shoots wide after showing good skill to dribble past his opponents.


46′: We are back underway.


HT:


8:47 pm: The referee brings the first half to an end after two added minutes. Possession: Croatia: 58%, Nigeria: 42%.


8:43 pm: Mario Mandzukic finds Sime Vrsaljko inside the Eagles’ box but he lets a good chance go begging by shooting wide.


8:41 pm: Croatia’s Ante Rebic is injured and receives treatment off the pitch.


8:37 pm: Croatia intercepts the ball and start a counterattack. Sime Vrsaljko mishits a cross and the ball goes off target.


8:32 pm: OWN GOAL! Oghenekaro Etebo has put the ball into his own net. Croatia 1-0 Nigeria.


8: 22 pm: Pressure from Nigeria: An Odion Ighalo cross is blocked and Dejan Lovren gives away a corner under pressure. Victor Moses Swings in the corner but Sime Vrsaljko relieves pressure with a clearance. The falls to Iwobi whose teasing cross is cleared by Lovren. Captain Mikel then chips the ball into the penalty box but once again it is cleared.


8:20 pm: Croatia is bossing possession 66%, leaving Nigeria with 34%.


8:13 pm: Brian Idowu has a cross blocked.


8:08 pm: Alex Iwobi tries to create a chance. He sends the ball behind the defence but none of his teammates benefit from it.


8:00 pm: We are underway. After Argentina and Iceland played out a 1-1 draw, the Eagles can boost their chances of progressing from the tough group with victory here.


Starting Line-Ups:

Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group C match between Croatia and Nigeria at Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday (1900 GMT):

Croatia

Danijel Subasic – Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic – Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric (capt), Ivan Perisic, Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric – Mario Mandzukic

Coach: Zlatko Dalic (CRO)

Nigeria

Francis Uzoho – Shehu Abdullahi, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Brian Idowu – Oghenekaro Etebo, John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi – Odion Ighalo

Coach: Gernot Rohr (GER)

Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)


Peru Vs Denmark (5:00 pm)


Full time: Peru 0-1 Denmark.

Denmark beat Peru 1-0 in both sides’ World Cup group stage opener on Saturday after Christian Cueva blasted over a VAR-awarded penalty for the Peruvians in Saransk.

Yussuf Yurary Poulsen capitalised for the Danes, slotting into the net in the 59th minute.


 

Argentina vs Iceland


Thank you for your time. Join us again by 5:00 pm as Peru take on Denmark.

90+6′ It’s full time and the scoreline is Argentina 1 – 1 Iceland.

90+4′ Nicolas Otamendi puts in a cross but Hannes Thor Halldorsson rushes out to claim the ball.

The referee signals a free kick as Emil Hallfredsson from Iceland trips Lionel Messi.

63′ The referee awards a penalty against Iceland after Hoerdur Magnusson makes a rough tackle against Maximiliano Meza.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson is injured and is replaced by Rurik Gislason.

It’s heart-breaking for Argentina as Lionel Messi takes the spot-kick but Hannes Thor Halldorsson stops the ball.


46′ The second half is underway.

45+2′ Iceland get a chance but Gylfi Sigurdsson fails to connect properly on the volley and sends the ball wide of target.

The referee blows the whistle for half time.


24′ GOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLL.

Iceland’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 16, 2018. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

Incredible. Iceland have levelled the scoreline.

Alfred Finnbogason volleys the ball into the back of the net. The ball possession is Argentina 72% – Iceland 28%.


19′ GOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLL.

Sergio Aguero puts the ball in the net for Argentina. Marcos Rojo made the assist.

Meanwhile, Football legend Diego Maradona is at the stadium to watch the match.

Argentina’s football legend Diego Maradona waves to the crowd ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 16, 2018. Juan Mabromata / AFP

 

13′ Argentina try to create a chance but Nicolas Otamendi fails to find the target with a shot from outside the box.

4′ A reckless challenge as Kari Arnason commits a rough foul on Nicolas Tagliafico.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi crosses the ball into the box from the free kick and creates a chance for Marcos Rojo who heads the ball off the goalpost.

1′ The referee blows the whistle and the game starts.


2:00 pm: Welcome back.

The World Cup opener between Argentina and Iceland has begun.

Iceland fans cheer before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 16, 2018. Yuri CORTEZ / AFP

France vs Australia


Thank you for staying with us. Join us by 2:00 pm for updates on the Group D match between Argentina and Iceland.

READ ALSO: France Beat Australia As VAR Makes History

90+6′ Referee blows the final whistle.

The game ends with the scoreline France 2-1 Australia.

90+5′ An Australian player takes a long throw from the left side of the pitch into the opponent’s box but Paul Pogba clears the ball to relieve the pressure on France.

81′ GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL.

Paul Pogba reclaims the lead for France after his effort is deflected past the goalkeeper. Olivier Giroud provided the assist for the goal.

75′ Nabil Fekir makes a good pass into the box but his French teammates fail to take advantage of the chance.

61′ GOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLL.

The referee awards another penalty just four minutes later. This time, it is against France after Samuel Umtiti handles the ball in the box!

Mile Jedinak takes the kick and equalises for Australia. The scoreline is now 1-1.

57′ GOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLL.

The referee shows Joshua Risdon a yellow card after a foul in the box and awards a penalty in favour of France.

Antoine Griezmann puts it away from the penalty spot!

 

47′ The restart is underway.

45+2′ France take a throw-in at the left side of the pitch in Australia’s half of the field and the referee blows for half time.

30′ France reclaim the ball possession by 52% while Australia have 48%.

Paul Pogba creates a chance when he cuts the opponents’ defence open with a through ball. But it is not enough to make a goal.

France’s midfielder Paul Pogba (R) controls the ball as he is marked by Australia’s midfielder Aaron Mooy during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Australia at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 16, 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

25′ The ball possession is France 49% – Australia 51%. Benjamin Pavard from France passes the ball in the box but it’s intercepted by an Australian player.

18′ Corentin Tolisso makes a weak attempt to clear the ball which puts his side under pressure. Hugo Lloris, however, makes a great save for France.

France’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (R) jumps to gather the cross during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Australia at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 16, 2018. Luis Acosta / AFP

2′ Antoine Griezmann takes the first corner for France from the right.

11:00 am: Match kicks off.


It’s the third day of exciting games at the global football tournament. Four matches featuring two groups will be played today.

The first match is between France and Australia by 11:00 am Nigerian time while Peru will take on Denmark by 5:00 pm at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk in Group C.

The opening game In Group D is between Argentina and Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow at 2:00 pm, after which the Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on Croatia at 8:00 pm at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad.

Nigeria Target All Three Points Against Croatia As France Battle Australia
Nigeria’s players take part in a training session at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 15, 2018 during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. OZAN KOSE / AFP

Meanwhile, France Coach Didier Deschamps has left Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud on the bench for their opener as teenager Kylian Mbappe leads Les Bleus’ front line in Kazan.

Mbappe, one of 14 players in France’s squad who have yet to feature in a major tournament, has been in great form for Paris Saint-Germain last season and will kick off the opener flanked by Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona. READ MORE.

Mbappe Leads France Attack Against Australia
France’s forward Kylian Mbappe juggles the ball during a training session at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 15, 2018, a day ahead of their Russia World Cup 2018 Group C football match against Australia. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

 


Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group C opening game between France and Australia at the Kazan Arena on Saturday (1000 GMT kick-off):

France (4-3-3)

Hugo Lloris (capt); Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; Corentin Tolisso, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe

Coach: Didier Deschamps (FRA)

France’s forward Ousmane Dembele (L), forward Kylian Mbappe (C) and midfielder Steven N’Zonzi (R) attend a training session at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 15, 2018, a day ahead of their Russia World Cup 2018 Group C football match against Australia. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Australia (4-2-3-1)

Coach: Bert van Marwijk (NED)

Mathew Ryan; Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich; Aaron Mooy, Mile Jedinak (capt); Robbie Kruse, Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie; Andrew Nabbout

Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)


June 15, 2018


Thank you for following our updates for Friday. Join us again on Saturday for more stories and updates from the World Cup as the competition unfolds.


9:00 pm: Here is how things stand in Group A and B after the first four games of the World Cup. (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Group A
Russia 1 1 0 0 5 0 3
Uruguay 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Egypt 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Saudi Arabia 1 0 0 1 0 5 0

Group B
Iran 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Portugal 1 0 1 0 3 3 1
Spain 1 0 1 0 3 3 1
Morocco 1 0 0 1 0 1 0


96′: That is it. The referee brings the game to an end. Both side had several chances and the six goals scored show that they took some of the chances but that wasn’t enough to claim all three points.


90′: There will be four minutes of added time.


88′: Gooooooaal! Hat Trick. Ronaldo creates a goal from a free kick. Some would have been forgiven for thinking Spain had all the points in the bag. But the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is not having that.


80′: Portugal have been unable to react to Spain’s lead and are gradually fading out of the game with Fernando Hierro’s men now bossing possession. Portugal, 38%; Spain, 62%.


58′: Gooooooooal! Spain has taken the lead with a great goal. Nacho Fernandez who has been shaky in defence compensates in attack with a great volleyed goal. Spain take the lead after going behind twice.


55′: Goooooaaaaal! Costa has hit the back of the net again. 2-2, game on.

Costa grabs his second goal of the game.  / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD /

8:02: The game is back underway.


Meanwhile, here is what Ronaldo’s heroics so far mean.


HT:


7:44: Gooooal! Ronaldo again. The Real Madrid forward ensures his side goes into the break with the lead.

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the second goal during the match.
Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

7:28 pm: Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes picks the second yellow card of the game for tripping Nacho Fernandez.


7:26 pm: Almost! The crossbar denies Isco what would have been a great volleyed goal. Portugal would be thankful for that.


7:24 pm: Goooooal! Diego Costa levels the scores for Spain after a fantastic display of individual skills to dribble past some defenders.

Spain’s forward Diego Costa (2R) celebrates his goal with teammates.
Nelson Almeida / AFP

7:20 pm: Spain have reacted well after going behind and is in control of possession but Portugal is not far behind. Portugal, 48%; Spain, 52%.


7:17 pm: Spain’s Sergio Busquet becomes the first player to be booked for his rough foul on Goncalo Guedes.


7:04 pm: Gooooal! It’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Great start for Portugal. Nacho trips Ronaldo three minutes in. And Portugal’s greatest goal score makes no mistake from the spot. 1-0 to Portugal.

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) celebrates his first goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Portugal and Spain at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 15, 2018.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

7:00 pm: Portugal and Spain kick off their much-anticipated game. Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping that his side will be able to benefit from the controversy that hit the Spain camp with the decision of the Spanish FA to fire coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup.


6:50 pm: Costa, Nacho start for Spain against Portugal on Hierro debut

Diego Costa starts in attack and Nacho at right-back in new Spain coach Fernando Hierro’s starting line-up for Friday’s World Cup Group B showdown with neighbours Portugal in Sochi.

The team is that which would likely have started under Julen Lopetegui, had he not been sensationally sacked on Wednesday following the announcement that he would be joining Real Madrid after the tournament.

Line-ups: 

Portugal (4-2-3-1)

Rui Patricio; Cedric Soares, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro; Joao Moutinho, William Carvalho; Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Goncalo Guedes; Cristiano Ronaldo (capt)

Coach: Fernando Santos (POR)

Spain (4-2-3-1)

David De Gea; Nacho, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos (capt), Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke; David Silva, Isco, Andres Iniesta; Diego Costa

Coach: Fernando Hierro (ESP)

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)


READ ALSOIran Grab Late World Cup Victory Over Morocco

06:00 pm: The referee blows the final whistle. The scoreline is one – nil in favour of Iran.

Morocco’s midfielder Hakim Ziyech (R) and Iran’s midfielder Ehsan Haji Safi (C) vie during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Morocco and Iran at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 15, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

05:58 pm: GOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL.

Aziz Bouhaddouz sends the ball into his team’s net. Iran have taken the lead.

05:39 pm: Iran captain Masoud Shojaei hands over his band to a fellow team-mate before leaving the field.

He’s being replaced by Mehdi Taremi in a tactical substitution.

05:16 pm: The referee paused the game after sighting a player lying on the pitch.

Omid Ebrahimi from Iran was injured and taken off the field to receive medical treatment. The match continued after a few minutes.

05:08 pm: Second half is underway.

The referee whistles a free kick after Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech tripped Ehsan Haji Safi.

04:48 pm: The referee blows the half-time whistle. The scoreline is 0-0.

04:38 pm: Morocco lost a chance Hakim Ziyech crossed the ball, but his team-mate arrived a bit late.

Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand rushed out and claimed the ball.

Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand (C) deflects the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Morocco and Iran at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 15, 2018. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

04:21 pm: The ball possession is Morocco 73% – Iran 27%.

However, Iran begin a counter-attack; Karim Ansarifard passes the ball in the box but it was intercepted by a Moroccan player.

04:02 pm: Match commences and the game is underway

The referee is Cuneyt Cakir from Turkey.

03:55 pm: The first Group B match between Morocco and Iran to kick off in a bit.

Morocco fans cheer before the start of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Morocco and Iran at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 15, 2018. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 


Reacting to the match, Egypt coach Hector Cuper said Mohamed Salah was kept on the bench because the team did not want to risk further injury to the Liverpool star.

Salah, who turned 26 on Friday, injured his shoulder three weeks ago in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. READ MORE.

We Don't Want To 'Risk' Salah, Says Egypt Coach After Uruguay Loss
Egypt’s coach Hector Raul Cuper gestures on the touchline during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Egypt and Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 15, 2018. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 


Read Full Story: Uruguay Strike Late To Beat Egypt

2: 57 pm: The referee blows the final whistle and the match is over.

It was a tough match between both teams but Uruguay managed to carve out the victory.

2:48 pm: Gooaaaalllllllllllll.

Uruguay’s Carlos Sanchez provided the assist while Jose Gimenez scores with a header.

2:40 pm: Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani connects well on the volley but Mohamed El Shenawi makes a great save and the ball goes behind for a corner kick.

Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy (L) shields the ball on the ground as Uruguay’s forward Edinson Cavani (R) walks away during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Egypt and Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 15, 2018. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 



2:33 pm: Luis Suarez gets a chance as he finds himself in a one-on-one situation with the Egyptian keeper but Mohamed El Shenawi rushes out to claim the ball.

2:11 pm: Trezeguet from Egypt passes the ball in the box but it was intercepted by an opponent player.

It’s a throw-in in favour of the African team.

2:05 pm: Second half is underway.



1: 47 pm: Referee blows the half-time whistle.

The first half ended with Egypt 43% – Uruguay 57% possession.

1:25 pm: The ball possession is Egypt 46% – Uruguay 54%.

A cross from Nahitan Nandez of Uruguay is blocked by an opponent as he tries to pick out a team-mate in the position.

1:03 pm: Uruguay’s Luis Suarez sees his pass blocked by an Egyptian while the African team a throw-in at the left side of the pitch in their own half of the field.

 

Egypt’s midfielder Amr Warda (R) is challenged by Uruguay’s midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur (L) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Egypt and Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 15, 2018. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

1:00 pm : The match between Egypt and Uruguay kicked off.

Netherlands’ Bjorn Kuipers is the referee.


The intriguing performances continue in the second day of the 2018 World Cup with three matches featuring two African countries among others after the host nation, Russia routed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game.

Egypt will take on Uruguay in the second Group A match by 1:00 pm Nigerian time at the Ekaterinburg Arena.

In Group B, Morocco will play Iran at the Saint Petersburg Stadium at 4:00 pm local time, while Portugal will contend with their European counterparts Spain three hours later at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi.

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez will be chasing redemption when Uruguay face Egypt in his first World Cup appearance since being thrown out of the tournament in 2014 for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Uruguay Star Suarez In Final Shot At World Cup Redemption
Uruguay’s forward Luis Suarez smiles as he takes part in a training session at Ekaterinburg Stadium in Ekaterinburg on June 14, 2018, a day ahead of the team’s Russia 2018 World Cup Group A opening football match against Egypt. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

The controversial Barcelona striker, 31, was described on the eve of their first game in Russia as “more mature” by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez. READ MORE.

Russia 2018: Full Group Stage Fixtures


Lionel Messi’s Argentina aim to put a shambolic World Cup build-up behind them and make a statement in their opening match against tournament debutants Iceland on Saturday.

Nervy Argentina Seek Messi Magic Against Iceland
Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi (front R) talks with midfielder Cristian Pavon (C) as they warm up during a training session at the team’s base camp in Bronnitsy, near Moscow, on June 15, 2018, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match against Iceland. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

The two-time champions arrived in Russia dogged by poor form, injuries and controversy.

But Messi is a man on a mission as he chases his first World Cup winner’s medal and will not tolerate complacency against the minnows at Moscow’s Spartak stadium. READ MORE.

Elsewhere, Spain were one of the favourites when they arrived in Russia after a two-year unbeaten run under Lopetegui.

The squad is, however, reeling after Wednesday’s snap decision by the Spanish football federation to dump Lopetegui after it was announced he would be joining Real Madrid following the tournament.

Former Real stalwart Fernando Hierro has been thrown into the deep end as head coach, with little coaching experience and huge pressure on his shoulders. READ MORE.

 


June 14, 2018


Thank you for your time and join us tomorrow for Friday’s updates. Please scroll down for more on the World Cup events.

5:57 pm: Full-Time Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s midfielder Yuri Gazinskiy (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with his teammates during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018.
Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

5:55 pm: Russia sealed their victory with two goals in less than seven minutes to the full time.

Denis Cheryshev scored his second goal in 91 minutes while Aleksandr Golovin gave the host nation a wonderful finish when he curled a direct free kick into the back of the net.

5:31 pm: Again, Russia have scored their third goal.

Artem Dzyuba netted with a header after a brilliant cross from Aleksandr Golovin

5:06 pm: Second half is underway.

After a few minutes to the restart, Russia’s Aleksandr Samedov could not find the target with a shot from outside the box.

 


4:48 pm: Referee blows for half-time.

4:43 pm: Second goal.

Denis Cheryshev extended the lead for the host country after dribbling past two Saudi Arabians thanks to Roman Zobnin’s assist.

Russia’s midfielder Denis Cheryshev (C) scores a goal past Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

4:12 pm: First goal.

Yuri Gazinskiy has given Russia the lead and becomes the first player to score a goal in the 2018 World. Aleksandr Golovin provided the assist for the goal.


4:00 pm: Hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia have kicked off the 2018 World Cup proper.

Saudi Arabia’s defender Yasser Al-Shahrani (centre L) and Russia’s defender Ilja Kutepov compete for the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

Starting line-ups:

Russia:
Igor Akinfeev (capt), Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kupetov, Sergey Ignashevich, Iury Gazinsky, Alan Dzagoev, Roman Zobnin, Aleksandr Golovin, Yury Zhirkov, Alexander Samedov, Fedor Smolov

Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov (RUS)

Saudi Arabia:

Abdullah Al-Muaiouf, Osama Hawsawi (capt), Omar Hawsawi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Salman Al-Faraj, Yahia Al-Shehri, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Al-Jassam, Salem Al-Dawsari, Mohammed Al-Sahlawi

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi (ESP)

Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG)


Opening Ceremony:

British singer Robbie Williams performs during the opening ceremony before hosts Russia’s game against at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
Actors perform during the opening ceremony before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018.
Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

The host country, Russia will kick-start the competition by taking on Saudi Arabia by 4:00 pm Nigerian time.

 


Russia 2018: Full Group Stage Fixtures


Nigeria’s Pre-World Cup Matches

On the three occasions, the Super Eagles won their opening matches in the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2014, and progressed to the Round of 16.

During their preparation ahead of the competition, Nigeria played a series of friendly matches during which they won two, drew one, and lost three.

Nigeria’s midfielder Ogenyi Onazi (2R) shoots but fails to score past Serbia’s defender Matija Nastasic (L) during the International friendly football match between Nigeria and Serbia at the Hive stadium in Barnet, north London on March 27, 2018.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Sweet victories over Argentina and Poland were followed by defeat by Serbia, a draw with DR Congo and losses to England and the Czech Republic.

The outcomes of some of the friendly, especially against England and Czech Republic, have become worrisome for Nigerians and other concerned individuals.

England’s midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (L) vies with Nigeria’s midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo (C) and Nigeria’s defender Bryan Idowu (R) during the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London on June 2, 2018. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Former Eagles Technical Adviser Jo Bonfrere warned the players to avoid playing for individual glory if they must achieve the desired results at the competition.

However, Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, urged Nigerians to pray for the team’s success and continue to support them.

Photo: AFP

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