Ahmed Musa made all the difference as Nigeria swept past World Cup debutants Iceland 2-0 to soar into the qualifying spots and leave Group D on a knife-edge with one game to go.
The Leicester City striker scored both goals in Volgograd, smashing the first in on the half-volley, before rounding keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson to make it 2-0.
Iceland were then awarded a late penalty via VAR, but Everton playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson put the ball into the stands.
Nigeria gave African fans something to cheer about, after a series of reverses for the continent’s representatives and will be fancying their chances against an out-of-sorts Argentina in their final group game. It was also satisfying to finally see some decisive work in the area.
Here’s hoping that we get to see those funky jerseys in the Round of 16.
Philippe Coutinho popped up again with a priceless goal to put Brazil ahead in the 91st minute of a tetchy encounter with Costa Rica, before Neymar put the result beyond doubt six minutes later with his first strike of the tournament.
Unfortunately, the game was characterised by the running battle the Brazilian captain waged with referee and to a lesser extent, the Costa Rican players. Brazil had a goal disallowed in the first stanza, and Neymar was irate after a penalty decision was overturned after a VAR review in the second half.
Although he was on the receiving end of some rough challenges, it would be a great thing for the World Cup if Neymar were to put his constant complaining and petulance behind him and concentrate on his football. He is, after all, one of the best players in the world and his late goal saw him take third position on the list of Brazil’s all-time top-scorers, with only Pele and Ronaldo having been more prolific.
I can’t shake the feeling that the Coutinho intervention was the moment we will look back on as the one in which Brazil’s luck changed and the point from which they kicked on to win the whole shebang.
In the late kick-off, a trademark Granit Xhaka rocket and a dramatic late break-away goal from Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri saw Switzerland engineer a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Serbia, after Aleksandar Mitrovic had handed the Balkan side the lead in the first half.
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Both Xhaka and Shaqiri are of ethnic Albanian heritage and used a nationalist symbol from that nation – open hands with thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to represent the double-headed eagle on the Albanian flag –to celebrate their strikes in Kaliningrad. Ethnic Albanians make up the largest population group in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognise its independence and there were clashes between Xhaka, Shaqiri and Valon Behrami and the Serbian players in the build-up to the game.
The result sees the Swiss share the lead of Group E with Brazil. Prickly and outspoken he may be, but there is sure to be no shortage of suitors for Shaqiri, who is reportedly available for just £12 million after Stoke were relegated from the Premier League.