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World Cup 2022 group stage awards

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The memories of South Africa 2010 must have been quaking in their boots when they saw Qatar 2022 rock up as a contender to take their title of ‘worst World Cup ever’.

But that hasn’t been the case thus far. Every group game had meaning to it and every team has had something to fight for. The football hasn’t been amazing, but the drama certainly has been.

Here are 90min’s awards for the best of the World Cup group stages.

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Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane

Something’s off / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

According to my very complex algorithms, metrics and models (the group stage points tallies and goal difference), the best team across the opening three matches was…England?! Who’s been screwing with this thing?

Honourable mentions: Netherlands, Morocco

Olivier Giroud

That’s a bit better / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

The problem with this group stage is not one single team claimed all nine points available. In terms of trying to map out contenders and forming opinions on an inner circle of would-be champions, that’s really annoying.

If we then just judge the best teams on two of their three games, then the most promising team was probably champions France, who came from behind to demolish Australia and beat Denmark for the first time in three attempts this year.

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Honourable mentions: Brazil, Portugal, Argentina

Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe’s back / Stefan Matzke – sampics/GettyImages

Again, not one team just steamrolling their way through the groups makes this tougher to nail down.

If you close your eyes and try to imagine the most dominant player at this World Cup so far though, it’s probably Kylian Mbappe.

These last two awards make it seem like France have been some all-conquering beast, but that’s not the case – it’s just been quite an even tournament.

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Honourable mentions: Cody Gakpo, Alvaro Morata, Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes

Salem Al-Dawsari.

What a day / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

Decreed as officially the most unlikely of victories ever at a World Cup, Saudi Arabia’s opening win against tournament favourites Argentina will go down as an immortal achievement.

Herve Renard rocked up in his muscle-fit white shirt and inspired the Green Falcons to a victory thought to be verging on impossible.

Honourable mentions: Germany 1-2 Japan, Japan 2-1 Spain, Belgium 0-2 Morocco

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Grow up, lad / Alex Livesey – Danehouse/GettyImages

Have you considered doing your job, Cristia- no, wait, we’ve been here before.

Kai Havertz

Havertz did all he could on the final matchday / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

For the most part, the strongest sides and leading contenders got through their groups with relative ease.

Apart from you, Germany. Two group stage exits in a row. Everything OK?

Honourable mentions: Belgium, Denmark

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FBL-WC-2022-MATCH42-CAN-MAR

The boys / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/GettyImages

There is a really good argument that this should be Australia, but the way Morocco took top spot in a group filled with Croatia, Belgium and Canada was seriously impressive. They were written off before a ball had been kicked.

Honourable mentions: Australia, Japan

Rob Page - Coach

Hindsight really is 20/20, huh / Visionhaus/GettyImages

When asked about Germany’s iconic political protest prior to their 2-1 loss to Japan, Wales boss Rob Page said: “I want my players to focus fully on playing games of football and winning games. I am sure Germany now, in hindsight, will probably have the same message.”

The Dragons swiftly exited the World Cup and were on the end of a battering inflicted by Marcus Rashford, the most political football player the United Kingdom may have ever seen.

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Honourable mentions: Eden Hazard eliminated after criticising Germany, Wojciech Szczesny saves controversial Lionel Messi penalty

Luis Suarez

Suarez is out of the World Cup / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

The ultimate case of ‘if I’m going down, you’re going down with me’.

The complete and utter disdain between Luis Suarez and the entire nation of Ghana is unparalleled. The Black Stars’ 2-0 defeat to Uruguay saw them go crashing out of the World Cup, but South Korea’s win against Portugal meant La Celeste joined them on the next flight out of Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Cristiano Ronaldo vs adidas match ball technology, Brazil fans vs Gabriel Jesus, Germany vs cameras showing different perspectives of a ball crossing a line

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Oh yeah, that’s a proper Brazilian World Cup goal scored by a proper Brazilian number nine.

Richarlison opened the Selecao’s group stage with an instinctive tap-in against Serbia, but his second goal of the evening was a thing of beauty.

Receiving Vinicius Junior’s low cross just behind him, the Tottenham striker flicked the ball up to himself and produced a stunning overhead kick with his second touch.

Honourable mentions: Vincent Aboubakar vs Serbia, Luis Chavez vs Saudi Arabia, Salem Al-Dawsari vs Argentina

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Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

“Yes, it was definitely my goal.” / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Alright, this is the last jibe. The CR7 fan club wasn’t happy when I kept digging out his petulant nonsense last time.





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Player ratings as Casemiro strikes twice in FA Cup win

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Manchester United cruised into the fifth round of the FA Cup by overpowering ten-man Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

The Championship visitors kept their hosts out for the first 45 minutes but United eventually broke their resistance as Casemiro struck twice in quick succession.

The Brazilian ran onto Antony’s pass and chipped Joe Lumley to put Erik ten Hag’s side 1-0 up before a long range strike found its way into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

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Andy Carroll charged around with aggression all night and ended up being sent off for two bookable offences before Fred added a third, cleverly back-heeling Fernandes’ cross in at the front post.

United switched off in the 72nd minute to gift Reading a consolation, with Amadou Salif Mbengue given a free header to reduce the deficit three minutes after his introduction.

The Red Devils saw out the rest of the contest to book their place in the next round, joining the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Leeds.

United looked sharp throughout the first half, quickly exploding into attack with opportunities for Wout Weghorst and Christian Eriksen before a double chance fell to for Eriksen and Marcus Rashford. However, Lumley denied them on both occasions.

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Fernandes lifted an effort just over before a brilliant Antony run ended without reward.

The deadlock seemed to have been broken ten minutes before half time when Rashford smashed in from close range, but Weghorst was shown to have been offside in the build-up.

The breakthrough eventually came when two Brazilians combined to cut through Reading’s defence. Antony picked out Casemiro with a precise pass, allowing the former Real Madrid midfielder to run in and dink Lumley for the game’s opener.

He netted his second goal just before the hour mark with more of a pot shot. A free kick was never fully cleared by Reading and Casemiro struck a fierce effort from distance that whistled in.

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United’s job got a lot easier when Carroll was given his second yellow card for wiping out Casemiro and they took advantage of their numerical superiority by netting a third.

A short corner was worked to Fernandes, who fired the ball into Fred to inventively flick the ball beyond Lumley.

The visitors were rewarded for their efforts when United suddenly went limp at a corner, allowing substitute Mbengue a free header to reduce the deficit. It meant little, however, with the Royals exiting the FA Cup and United reaching the last 16.

GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Unsurprisingly a quiet night for De Gea, who had to clean up loose ball on occasion. Sharp stop to deny Hoilett.

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RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7/10 – Left the tackling to Malacia on the left but another display which shows his improvement under Ten Hag.

CB: Victor Lindelof – 6/10 – Decent enough for most of the night but he and Maguire won’t be back in the Premier League starting XI anytime soon conceding poor goals from corners.

CB: Harry Maguire – 6/10 – We all got the Maguire vs Carroll battle we didn’t know we needed. He came out of that clash having performed well enough.

LB: Tyrell Malacia – 7/10 – Did present a big chance to Hoilett but managed to wake up to deliver a better performance.

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CM: Casemiro – 9/10 – Provided a run from midfield and finished Antony’s pass well before netting from distance. Simply cannot do any wrong right now.

CM: Christian Eriksen – 6/10 – Came close with a free kick that whizzed past the post.

RW: Antony – 8/10 – Produced some marvellous running and the weight of pass on his delivery to Casemiro was perfect. Delivered end product which has been missing recently.

AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Got United purring in attack and played the ball in for Fred to make in 3-0.

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LW: Marcus Rashford – 7/10 – No goals for the England international but his pace and direct running was a threat.

ST: Wout Weghorst – 7/10 – Provided some more selfless pressing and occupied defenders while his teammates did the damage.

Substitutes

Fred (57′ for Christian Eriksen) – 8/10 – Got United’s third and was efficient during his sub appearance.

Facundo Pellestri (68′ for Fernandes) – 6/10 – Quiet final 20 minute appearance.

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Alejandro Garnacho (68′ for Rashford) – 6/10

Kobbie Mainoo (68′ for Rashford) – 6/10

Anthony Elanga (73′ for Weghorst) – 6/10

Manager

Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – United averted any fears of a potential upset with a second half blitz which allowed Ten Hag to shuffle his pack in late on.

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GK: Joe Lumley (5); CB: Tom McIntyre (6), CB: Tom Holmes (6), CB: Junior Hoilett (5); RWB: Andy Yiadom (5), CM: Jeff Hendrick (6), CM: Abdul Rahman Baba (6), CM: Tom Ince (7), LWB: Mamadou Loum (6) ST: Andy Carroll (5), ST: Lucas Joao (6).

SUBS: Tyrese Fornah (6), Amadou Salif Mbengue (8), Dean Bouzanis (6), Shane Long (6).

Player of the match – Casemiro



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Tete undergoing medical with Leicester

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Tete will have a medical with Leicester on Saturday night ahead of his move from parent club Shakhtar Donetsk, 90min understands.

The Brazilian winger was offered to Premier League sides on loan with the view of a permanent deal back in December before the Foxes held talks with the representatives of the Lyon loanee regarding a move to the King Power Stadium.

Lyon are prepared to lose the 22-year-old as manager Laurent Blanc plans to move his side in a different direction. Despite that, Tete is their second highest top scorer this season after Alexandre Lacazette – who has 11 goals – with six strikes.

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Premier League sides West Ham, Tottenham, Newcastle and Arsenal were all alerted to his availability. David Moyes’ Hammers did explore a deal only to renege on their interest later.

Tete’s arrival will add firepower to Brendan Rodgers’ squad. Harvey Barnes and James Maddison are their top Premier League scorers this season with seven each, with Patson Daka, Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho all struggling for form.

On this edition of Talking Transfers, Scott Saunders hosts Toby Cudworth & Graeme Bailey to discuss some of the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maximo Perrone & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Tete is a naturally right-sided player and has Champions League experience with Shakhtar, scoring three times in the UEFA competition.

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Leicester were quiet during the summer transfer window, bringing in only Alex Smithies and Wout Faes, but have signed Victor Kristiansen this month to add competition at left back.



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‘Nice one, Sonny!’ Tottenham chant lyrics, origin and video

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Son Heung-min had spent two-and-a-half seasons at Tottenham Hotspur, made more than 100 appearances and scored 40 goals before he was finally granted his own song by the Spurs faithful.

The eminently loveable South Korea international has scored almost 100 times since, eliciting countless renditions of a fittingly cheery tune from his adoring public in north London.

Here’s everything you need to know about the fascinating origins of a song that has become a staple of N17.

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Chirped out to a bouncy rhythm, Tottenham fans don’t have to memorise much to keep this jaunty chant in their head. The lyrics go:

Nice one Sonny,
Nice one Son,
Nice one Sonny,
Let’s have another one…

And repeat. And repeat, and repeat…

As a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme, Son will be pleased that even those on Tottenham’s terraces don’t let anything go to waste. ‘Nice one, Sonny!’ was originally ‘Nice one, Cyril!’, in honour of the Spurs left-back Cyril Knowles from the 1960s and ’70s.

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Pat Jennings joined Spurs in the same year as Knowles and insisted that the former England international would “have been proud” to have his song moulded in Son’s image.

To find the inspiration for Knowles’ chant, you have to turn to an earworm from 1970s advertisement. Before turning his pen to a bestselling memoir, Peter Mayle conjured up the slogan ‘Nice one, Cyril’ for Wonderloaf Bread. In the iconic advert, a baker by the name of Cyril saves the day at a bakery and is cheerily praised.

Spurs fans snagged the tagline which Cockerel Chorus expanded into a single for Tottenham’s run to the 1973 League Cup final. The song, written by Harold Spiro and Helen Clarke, topped out at number 14 in the charts. Cyril Knowles played the full 90 minutes as Spurs beat Norwich City 1-0 in the showpiece event.

When did Tottenham fans first chant ‘Nice one, Sonny!’?

It’s tricky to pin down the exact moment that ‘Nice one, Sonny!’ was first whispered by a Tottenham fan. However, the reinterpretation of the classic appears to have gained a spot in the hymnbook on 11 March 2018, when Son bagged a brace in a 4-1 win away to Bournemouth.

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That victory came at the end of four game sequence in which Son scored seven goals across three competitions for Spurs, forcing himself into the throat of the watching public.

Although, spare a thought for one Tottenham fan that pondered why Son hadn’t been serenaded with a specific chant all the way back in May 2017. Ten months before that hot streak, they wrote on the Spurs Community message board: “Surely he deserves one by now? I always thought the best one would be the old Cyril Knowles one.”

Even some of his teammates know the lyrics.



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