Day six of the FIFA World Cup 2022 did not produce the fireworks many football fans were expecting as Euro 2020 finalist England and Concacaf champions United States only managed a 0-0 draw in their group B encounter.
Nonetheless, there was plenty to take away from the four matches. Here are 10 takeaways for our OBSERVER ONLINE readers.
Iran surprised Wales with two late goals. Rouzbeh Cheshmi opened the scoring in the eighth minute of stoppage time with a thunder-bolt of an effort from outside the box. But it was Ramin Rezaeian’s goal three minutes later that delivered the nail in the Welsh coffin. Iran now need to defeat the United States to guarantee qualification for the knockout stages.
After a draw against the United States in their opener, Wales needed a victory against Iran. However, they were put to the sword by a resurgent Iran side. It shows that Wales cannot just depend on the brilliance of Gareth Bale. The likes of Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James must pull their weight if Wales are to salvage their World Cup campaign against an England side that will be looking for a positive result to guarantee qualification to the next round.
In addition to being the first host nation to lose their opening World Cup match, Qatar have created another unwanted record as the first host nation to crash out of the tournament after two games. Despite an end to their World Cup campaign, however, Qatar managed to get a consolation goal in the 78th minute courtesy of Mohammed Muntari.
After losing their opener to the Netherlands, the African side were determined to secure three points against Qatar. As such, they defeated the Qataris 3-1. They will now need to beat Ecuador in what looks to be an interesting matchup. Senegal sit third in the standings with three points behind leaders Netherlands and Ecuador.
Although Cody Gakpo gave Netherlands the edge by way of a sixth minute goal, Ecuador easily levelled the scoring in the fourth minute of first half stoppage time courtesy of tournament goal scoring leader Enner Valencia. It is apparent to many that the Netherlands have much more work to do if they are to be true contenders.
The tournament leading goal scorer Enner Valencia had to be carried off the field by a stretcher due to a right knee injury. Valencia has scored three goals in the tournament so far and has been the focal point for the South American side.
With Valencia’s injury, the South American side will be reliant on Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pervis Estupinan to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Much credit must be given to Estupinan after a superb strike which allowed Valencia to capitalise after a save by Netherland goalkeeper, Andries Noppert.
England’s midfield trio of Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Declan Rice were outplayed by their American counterparts and lacked efficient playmaking, which contributed to an overall lacklustre display by the Europeans. Bear in mind, this is the same lineup that thrashed Iran in their opener. It begs the question, is England manager Gareth Southgate too reliant on the youngsters?
In a match that needed something special to separate the two teams, Manchester City standout Phil Foden was left on the bench. The 22-year-old midfielder, who could have proven to be the game changer, was surprisingly not involved at all during the match.
This is the second World Cup that the United States held the Three Lions to a draw, with the first time being at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. That matchup ended 1-1. However, despite another stalemate, the matchup provided a lot of chances for both teams to score. This now means that the North American side must beat Iran in order to advance to the knockout round.