When a sobbing Gonzalo Higuain was stretchered off just three minutes before the final whistle of Napoli’s 0-0 draw, countless breaths were figuratively held.
As the distraught Argentinian was removed from the pitch, scary thoughts of next season crept into the minds of supporters and media alike.
Thankfully, the club said their initial post-match diagnosis of heavy bruising was confirmed by tests and no further ankle damage was sustained.
The Serie A season is all but over for Napoli, who are firmly planted in third place, but they still have a Coppa Italia final to contend with this coming weekend against Fiorentina.
“Gonzalo Higuain confirmed yesterday’s diagnosis: severe blunt trauma to the right tibia,” the club said via their official Twitter account. “His condition will be evaluated in the coming days.”
The bruise was sustained as Higuain took a shot that was blocked by Marco Andreolli, and the striker’s follow-through kicked the shin of the Inter defender.
Given the injury – quite a painful one – it’s difficult to see Higuain being available for that Cup final. A deep bone bruise is not only painful but takes a few weeks to fully disappear, and it’s possible Napoli will be forced to use Goran Pandev at the head of the attack.
The ankle problem also throws into question Higuain’s World Cup, with the big dance seven weeks away. It’s likely he’d be available by that time, but it could affect his international training ahead of the event.
The match is really opening up now, and France has begun to assert itself with an opener just beyond the half-hour mark.
[ MORE: Denmark, Australia draw, leaving Group C wide open ]
Kylian Mbappe has given Les Bleus a 1-0 lead over Peru after a deflected Olivier Giroud cross found the Monaco attacker just in front of goal for a tap-in finish.
The sequence began after Paul Pogba dispossessed Peru deep in their own half, before dishing the ball off to Giroud.
The goal for Mbappe is his first at a World Cup, as the 19-year-old continues to impress for both club and country.
Morocco’s World Cup journey will conclude after the group stage, but the African side isn’t pleased with how their second match transpired on Wednesday against Portugal.
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The Moroccans have lodged a complaint with FIFA against referee Mark Geiger — an American who has become one of the most well-known officials in Major League Soccer.
Geiger was alleged to have asked Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo for his jersey at halftime of the 1-0 win over Morocco, to which Geiger has categorically denied the claims.
FIFA released the following statement on the matter:
The claims stemmed from Morocco player Nordin Amrabat, who addressed the matter in an interview following the match.
“I don’t know what [Geiger] is used to, but he was very impressed by Cristiano [Ronaldo],” Amrabat said. “I’ve been just told by Pepe that in the [first half], he asked if he could have his shirt. Come on, man. What are we talking about? … We are at the World Cup, not a circus here.”
Geiger returned to action on Thursday as video assistant referee for the Denmark-Australia match, which included an important alteration in a call that led to an Australia penalty kick.
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.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
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.
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.