14 El Salvadorian players given lifetime bans for match fixing

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Nearing the completion of a match-fixing investigation that began in late August, the Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol handed down 14 lifetime bans on Friday. Four players, including star forward Rodolfo Zelaya, remain under investigation.

In an official FESFUT release, the federation emphasized that the investigation is still ongoing, after new information suggested that a 2-1 friendly loss at Venezuela on May 22 could have also been fixed. Venezuela scored two second-half penalties to win the match after El Salvador scored first.

The four matches in question are: friendly losses to D.C. United and the United States in 2010, a 5-0 loss to Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and a 3-0 away loss to Paraguay on Feb. 6, 2013.

(MORE: El Salvadorian federation suspends 22 players under suspicion of match-fixing)

The 14 players who have been banned for life are: Luis Anaya, Osael Romero, Ramón Sánchez, Christian Castillo, Miguel Granadino, Miguel Montes, Dagoberto Portillo, Dennis Alas, Darwin Bonilla, Ramón Flores, Alfredo Pacheco, Mardoqueo Henríquez, Marvin González and Reynaldo Hernández.

Romeo Monteagudo has been suspended for 18 months, while Eliseo Quintanilla and Víctor Turcios are banned for six months. Resolutions in the investigation of Benji Villalobos, Rodrigo Martínez, Rodolfo Zelaya and Emerson Umaña are expected within the next month.

Only Carlos Carillo has been cleared of all charges from the initial list of 22 players suspended in August.

Yimmy Cuéllar, Alexander Escobar and Christian Sánchez are provisionally suspended for one month while the investigation into the Venezuela match continues.

“The work of the Disciplinary Committee has been exhaustive, has taken into account all types of information acquired by interviews, videos and testimonials from people who have had the courage to declare and provide [them],” FESFUT president Carlos Méndez Cabezas said. “We want to set an example for current and future generations to be alert, not to be enveloped in negative actions, spoiling years of dedication and sacrifice in soccer and ending their athletic careers at the same time as destroying the life force of the enormous love that our country has.”

The suspensions only apply to El Salvadorian competitions and national team participation. It will be up to FIFA to enforce the bans worldwide. Turcios and Ramón Sánchez are the only players involved who play for clubs overseas.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

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Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

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As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

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The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Video: VAR awards Australia penalty, before Jedinak converts

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The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.

Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.

After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.

Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.

Video: Eriksen volley has Denmark ahead inside 10 minutes

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Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.

 MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.

After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.

The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.

Croatia coach says “we have nothing to lose” against Argentina

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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]

With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.

“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.

For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.

“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.

“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”

In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.

The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.