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Player ratings as Benzema misses penalty in draw

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Karim Benzema missed a penalty as Real Madrid were frustrated by a ten man Osasuna at Santiago Bernabeu.

The visitors took a shock lead in the first half before Vinicius Junior hit back for Real Madrid. Benzema was then gifted a glorious chance to win the game for his side, but hammered the ball off the crossbar – missing his third consecutive penalty kick against Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.

Real Madrid dominated possession early in the game, with Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy’s overlapping runs causing problems for the Osasuna backline, but it was actually the visitors who’d create the first real chance of the game. That chance would fall to Nacho Vidal who, finding himself completely unmarked and in acres of space on the right of the penalty area, was unable to direct a subsequent volleyed effort anywhere near the goal.

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It was a much, much better chance than his shot made it look.

Los Blancos pushed forward thereafter, getting the ball to Vinicius Junior with ever-increasing frequency. And the Brazilian would win a free-kick on the left flank which very nearly turned into a goal on the half hour mark.

Toni Kroos whipped a dangerous ball into the box which was met by Antonio Rudiger who, rather disappointingly, ballooned his free header on goal way, way, way wide of the post. File under ‘better chance the player made it look’ alongside Vidal’s volley.

While Real Madrid were pressing into the final third, gaps were appearing in their defensive third – gaps which Osasuna so nearly exploited with a quick counter attacking following a Los Blancos’ corner kick. The visitors steamed forward, working the ball well up the park, and finding Abde Ezzalzouli on the right of the penalty area. The ex-Barcelona man’s effort on goal however span just wide of the left post.

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Osasuna were made to pay for missing that chance in the 42nd minute when Vinicius Junior finally broke the deadlock. The forward’s whipped cross from the left flank went right the way through, past Benzema and Rudiger, and into the bottom corner of the net.

The visitors weren’t to be deterred by that concession and in the 50th minute they grabbed an equaliser. The goal came from Kike Garcia, who flicked an Unai Garcia cross over Andriy Lunin and into the back of the net.

Rodrygo would spurn a decent chance to re-take the lead 10 minutes later, firing over the crossbar after being played through on goal by Benzema.

After a frustrating 15 minutes in which Osasuna defended well, Real Madrid were gifted a chance to go ahead after Benzema was pushed over in the penalty area by David Garcia – who received a red card for the foul. Up stepped Benzema to take the resulting spot kick and he, rather shockingly, cannoned the ball off the crossbar instead of into the back of the net.

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A minute later Benzema did have the ball in the back of the net, but he was adjudged to have been offside when he latched onto the ball int he penalty area.

The last chance of the game would fall to substitute Mariano Diaz, who headed a great Federico Valverde cross just over the bar.

GK – Andriy Lunin – 4/10 – Could do nothing about the goal.

RB – Dani Carvajal – 5/10 – Decent going forward, mainly in the first half.

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CB – Antonio Rudiger – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance in the first half. Not quite on the same wavelength as Alaba yet.

CB – David Alaba – 5/10 – Caught out a few times defensively, particularly on the counter attack.

LB – Ferland Mendy – 6/10 – A solid outing for the French international.

CM – Dani Ceballos – 3/10 – Quiet and rightfully subbed off.

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CM – Aurelien Tchouameni – 4/10 – Slightly sloppy on the ball at times. Not his greatest outing.

CM – Toni Kroos – 6/10 – Switched play brilliantly all evening.

RW – Rodrygo – 6/10 – Missed a decent chance on the hour mark. Much more involved in the second half than he was in the first.

ST – Karim Benzema – 2/10 – He missed his third penalty in a row against Sergio Herrera.

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LW – Vinicius Junior – 7/10 – As per, Real Madrid’s liveliest creative outlet. Scored the opener

SUB – Eduardo Camavinga – 5/10 –
Much better than Tchouameni when he came on.

SUB – Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Added some much needed impetus.

SUB – Marco Asensio – N/A.

SUB – Eder Militao – N/A.

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SUB – Mariano Diaz – 4/10 – Spurned a good chance late on.



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Player ratings La Albiceleste make it through to knockout stages

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Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez ensured Argentina’s place at the top of Group C and their place in the round of the 16 of the FIFA World Cup. Poland also squeezed through despite losing thanks to Mexico only managing to beat Saudi Arabia 2-1.

Argentina started the game brightly, getting Lionel Messi on the ball frequently in and around the penalty area – which is always the game plan for La Albiceleste. The PSG star would have the first notable shot on goal in the 10th minute, bursting into the left hand side of the penalty area before stinging Wojciech Szczęsny’s palms with a fierce strike on goal.

La Albiceleste were able to sustain that pressure with relative ease thereafter as Poland were more than happy to sit in and defend a point that would see them through to the last 16.

Marcos Acuna was next to come close for Argentina around the half-hour mark, drilling a shot just wide of the foot of the right post.

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Julian Alvarez would then force Szczęsny into a great save five minutes later, with the Juventus number one deflecting Alvarez’s effort on goal from the left side of the penalty area out wide.

Moments later we witnessed the worst refereeing decision of the tournament thus far. Argentina were awarded an egregious penalty following a lengthy VAR check after Szczęsny was adjudged to have touched (?) Messi’s face while both were up challenging for a cross into the box.

The resulting spot kick was then brilliant saved by the Poland goalkeeper, who dove to his left to tip Messi’s effort wide. Justice well and truly served.

Immediately after the second half whistle, Argentina finally got their goal. Brighton star Alexis Mac Allister would be the man to get it, latching onto a low cross from right-back Nahuel Molina to drill past Szczęsny and into the bottom right corner of the net.

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That goal would finally wake Poland up as an attacking entity and, in the 49th minute, they almost grabbed an equaliser through Kamil Glik. The veteran defender rose highest to head a set piece from the right flank just wide.

After a few tactical tweaks, Lionel Scaloni’s men firmly regained control of the game. In the 67th minute they deservedly doubled their lead through Julian Alvarez. The young forward held off two Polish defenders before firing high into the net.

It was so nearly three in the 72nd minute when Messi played a wonderful through ball into the path of Alvarez again. The forward, however, could only find the side-netting with his subsequent strike on goal.

In the 85th minute, Lautaro Martinez came off the bench to nearly knock Poland out of the competition. After latching onto a loose back pass, the Inter man stormed into the penalty area but shanked his shot on goal wide of the post.

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Jakub Kiwior then saved Poland from an early exit with a stunning clearance off the line in the 93rd minute. The towering defender got back well to head clear a dinked Nicolas Tagliafico finish to keep his nation in the tournament.

GK – Wojciech Szczęsny – 8/10 – Saved his second penalty of the group stages and looked generally unbeatable in the first half. He was finally beaten in the second, but by God what a performance regardless.

RB – Matty Cash – 3/10 – Didn’t get forward as Poland would’ve liked.

CB – Kamil Glik – 4/10 – The sort of game that suits him at this point in his career and yet he still wasn’t particularly good.

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CB – Jakub Kiwior – 7/10 – Got caught out with Molina’s cut-back cross which led to the opener. Made amends with a fantastic clearance off the line in added time.

LB – Bartosz Bereszynski – 3/10 – Struggled to defend his side.

CM – Piotr Zielinski – 3/10 – Needed to be better on the ball than he was in this one.

CM – Krystian Bielik – 4/10 – Defended quite well but generally looked hopless in possession.

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CM – Gregorz Krychowiak – 2/10 – Got stuck in when he could get near the ball…which wasn’t often because he can’t run anymore.

AM – Przemyslaw Frankowski – 1/10 – He did literally nothing and was subbed off at half-time.

ST – Robert Lewandowski – 2/10 – So, so isolated.

ST – Karol Swiderski – N/A – Did he play? He didn’t, did he? Surely not.

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SUB – Michal Skoras – 4/10.

SUB – Jakub Kaminski – 3/10.

SUB – Damian Szymanski – N/A.

SUB – Artur Jedrzejczyk – N/A.

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SUB – Krzysztof Piatek – N/A.

GK – Emi Martinez – 5/10 – He had zero to do.

RB – Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – His brilliant low cross from the right flank led to the opening goal.

CB – Cristian Romero – 5/10 – Dealt with the little threat Lewa posed well.

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CB – Nicolas Otamendi – 5/10 – An easy night at the office for Otamendi.

LB – Marcos Acuna – 6/10 – Drilled a shot just wide in the first half and got forward well.

CM – Alexis Mac Allister – 8/10 – Scored his first ever international goal at the best possible time.

CM – Enzo Fernandez – 7/10 – Another impressive performance from the young man.

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CM – Rodrigo De Paul – 4/10 – Sloppy on the ball again. Surely he shouldn’t start for this team.

RW – Angel Di Maria – 5/10 – Saw a lot of the ball but didn’t do a whole lot with it.

CF – Lionel Messi – 4/10 – Missed a penalty. He’s not very good at penalties.

LW – Julian Alvarez – 5/10 – Scored a great goal in the second half. Well deserved start for the Man City striker.

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SUB – Leandro Paredes – 6/10 – Did a decent job in midfield when he came on.

SUB – Nicolas Tagliafico – N/A.

SUB – Lautaro Martinez – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance in the 85th minute.

SUB – German Pezzella – N/A.

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SUB – Thiago Almada – N/A.

Man of the Match: Alexis Mac Allister

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Ben White leaves England World Cup squad due to ‘personal reasons’

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Arsenal star Ben White has left England’s World Cup training camp and isn’t expected to return for the remainder of the tournament.

The defender didn’t make an appearance in any of the Three Lions group stage games, and has now left the squad due to ‘personal reasons’.

In a statement released by England, the Three Lions confirmed the news: “Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons.

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Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

“The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”

White has enjoyed a fantastic domestic season with Arsenal, becoming the club’s first choice right-back – and one of the best right-backs in the Premier League – as the Gunners have gone from top four challengers to table-toppers.

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Poland vs Argentina: Confirmed lineups

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Poland vs Argentina

France, who have already secured a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup 2022, play Tunisia on Wednesday in their final Group D matchup.

In the meantime, the African nation is last in the standings and must defeat the current champions to advance to the knockout stages.

Line-up

Poland XI (4-4-1-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior, Cash; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zielinski; Swiderski; Lewandowski

Argentina XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuña; De Paul, Enzo Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez, Di María

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