The final day of the group stage produced plenty of expected results, but also some drama as teams locked up the final spots in the knockout round.
Brazil and Germany became the second and third teams behind Portugal to finish their group stages a perfect 3-0-0, dominating the competition en route to their place in the next stage. In more dramatic fashion, Uzbekistan picked up its first points of the competition on the last day of the group stage, but it was enough to send them through in the German-dominated group.
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With the final four games a wrap, here’s how they went down:
Brazil 3-0 North Korea
The Brazilians flirted with disaster in their first two matches, trailing both Nigeria and Hungary at some point across each one despite eventually finding themselves victorious. Here, it was much more pedestrian, and while it took a good hour for the Seleção to get on the scoresheet, they’d put the game away swiftly once the ball hit the back of the net.
It was all Brazil in the first half as North Korea sat back and accepted pressure, but the Group E minnows would not concede through the first 45 minutes, making a goal-line clearance and weathering a few shots off the iron to keep it even at the break. It would eventually come, however, as Brazil poured on the pressure and a weak shot from Jaja took a massive deflection off the foot of Min Hyo Song into the back of the net for an own goal. Jean Carlos would carve up the defense to add a second six minutes later, and a third from Leo Pereira would seal it late as Brazil out-shot North Korea 23-2.
Nigeria 2-0 Hungary
Both teams were likely already through thanks to work earlier in the tournament, but Nigeria cemented their place as the Group E runners up thanks to a brace from Taiwo Awoniyi that bracketed halftime, and a Nigerian defense that locked down 4-goal scorer Bence Mervo.
Nigeria forced a number of acrobatic saves from Gyorgy Szekely before finally finding the breakthrough in the 33rd minute as Saviour Godwin burst up the right side and teed up Awoniyi from close range for his first. The second half got under way as Hungary’s Mario Nemeth rattled the crossbar soon after the break but a wayward backwards header from the Europeans in the 54th minute gifted Awoniyi a breakaway, and he buried the chance. Nigeria’s efforts unfortunately earn them a date with title-hopefuls Germany, while Hungary become the last team through on the third-place table.
Germany 5-1 Honduras
With a loss to Fiji in the previous round, it was always going to be near impossible for Honduras to qualify for the knockout stages, and that reality hit hard as the CONCACAF side was well beaten in Christchurch. Five different goalscorers powered home scores for Germany, and the Europeans marched their way to the most dominating group stage performance of the tournament with a perfect record and a +14 goal differential.
Marc Stendera got things started in just the second minute by slotting home an early penalty, and while it was even for a moment as an own-goal leveled things before 20 minutes, a 30th minute strike from Julian Brandt would put the Germans back up for good before a trio of second-half goals would do the trick. One of those came from Benfica youngster Hany Mukhtar, his fourth goal of the tournament after bagging a hat-trick against Fiji in their tournament opener. The win for Germany would secure Senegal’s place in the knockout stages via the third-place table by eliminating Honduras.
Uzbekistan 3-0 Fiji
With Germany steamrolling Group F, the battle for second-place was a cannibalistic nightmare. Uzbeistan sat bottom of the table having lost to both Germany and Honduras in the first two rounds, but still ended up through after limiting the damage against the Europeans and making their move on the final day. With all three teams on three points, Uzbekistan moves on thanks to a superior goal differential.
With the score level at the break, a somewhat comedic moment led to the opener as a pair of poor shots from Eldor Shomurodov resulted in a goal as the second efford was spilled by the Fiji goalkeeper. Uzbekistan would get another just a minute later as a shot from Zabikhillo Uriboev from a tight angle also trickled through the keeper’s hands. It was a formality from there as Uzbekistan collected the final-day win to move on.
KNOCKOUT ROUND MATCHUPS:
With the group stage finalized, there are plenty of solid matchups to go around. The United States – the only CONCACAF team left standing with Mexico, Panama, and Honduras eliminated – will get a June 10 matchup against Colombia at 3:30am ET. There are a few games featuring members of the same region, as Ghana will take on fellow Africans Mali, while Brazil and Uruguay square off in an all-CONMEBOL tie. The most intriguing matchup seems to be Germany vs. Nigeria, as the Europeans dominated Group F but their African opponents are no slouches, giving Brazil a run for their money before handling North Korea and Hungary.
Ghana vs. Mali
Serbia vs. Hungary
United States vs. Colombia
Ukraine vs. Senegal
Austria vs. Uzbekistan
Germany vs. Nigeria
Portugal vs. New Zealand
Brazil vs. Uruguay