The Latest: Tunisia’s Mathlouthi in hot seat at World Cup

The Latest: Tunisia's Mathlouthi in hot seat at World Cup
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

Tunisia goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi will be making his World Cup debut, and won’t have any backup when he starts in his team’s group-play finale against Panama.

FIFA denied a request by the Tunisians to add a goalkeeper after the team lost a second goalkeeper — Farouk Ben Moustafa — to injury since the start of the tournament. Ben Moustafa injured his knee at practice this week and Mouez Hassen, who started Tunisia’s opener, was lost for the tournament with a shoulder injury.

Tunisia and Panama enter the game following two losses and already are out of contention. Yet each has expressed urgency to capture at least one victory before leaving Russia. Panama has never won a World Cup game and Tunisia’s last victory at a World Cup came 40 years ago.

Mathlouthi is one of four Tunisia players seeing their first action of the tournament. Coach Nabil Maaloul has also opted to give defenders Oussama Haddidi and Rami Bedoui, and forward Ghaylen Chaaleli an opportunity to play.

Panama coach Hernan Gomez has selected two new starters who have yet to play in Russia: defenders Adolfo Machado and Luis Ovalle. Meanwhile, forward Gabriel Torres makes his first appearance in the starting lineup after playing 28 minutes as a substitute in Panama’s tournament opener.

Lineups:

Panama: Jaime Pendo, Fidel Escobar, Roman Torres, Adolfo Machado, Luis Ovalle, Gabriel Gomez, Edgar Barcenas, Ricardo Avila, Anibal Godoy, Jose Rodriguez, Gabriel Torres.

Tunisia: Aymen Mathlouthi, Yassine Meriah, Oussama Haddadi, Rami Bedoui, Hamdi Naguez, Ferjani Sassi, Ellyes Skhiri, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Wahbi Khazri, Ghaylen Chaaleli, Naim Sliti.

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8:15 p.m.

The tactical jockeying for positions in the World Cup knockout stage is under way before kickoff with 17 lineup changes across both teams in the Group G decider between England and Belgium.

Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku’s ambitions for the World Cup Golden Boot will have to wait.

England coach Gareth Southgate made eight changes to the lineup that thrashed Panama 6-1 in its last match in Russia. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez went one better with nine changes to the lineup that beat Tunisia 5-2.

For England, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Jamie Vardy, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Fabian Delph, Marcus Rashford and 19-year-old Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold have been recalled to start. Only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, defender John Stones and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek keep their places for England.

Martinez also has kept Belgium’s first-choice goalkeeper, saying continuity is important in that position, and also retains center back Dedryck Boyata. Midfield playmaker Eden Hazard starts on the bench, while his brother Thorgan gets a start. Lukaku, who is recovering from a leg muscle injury, is on the bench.

The Group G winner plays Japan, which advanced as the No. 2 team in Group H instead of Senegal thanks to its superior disciplinary record. The Group G runner-up faces Group H winner Colombia in the round of 16.

Lineups:

England: Jordan Pickford, Danny Rose, Kieran Dier, John Stones, Jamie Vardy, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Fabien Delph, Marcus Rashford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Thomas Vermaelen, Marouane Fellaini, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Adnan Januzaj, Moussa Dembele, Dedryck Boyata, Michy Batshuayi, Nacer Chadli, Leander Dendoncker.

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7:20 p.m.

Brazil’s team doctor says Marcelo’s back injury may have been caused by a soft mattress.

Doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said after the team’s 2-0 win over Serbia that the back spasm that prompted Marcelo to leave the match early in the first half may have been sparked by the type of mattress being used by the defender at the team’s hotel.

Lasmar made the comment while dismissing rumors that the problem might have been related to excessive physical training by the team in Russia.

The Brazilian federation says Marcelo is recovering well from the injury but it remains unclear if he will be available for the team’s round-of-16 match against Mexico on Monday.

It says Marcelo is “undergoing treatment and showed good improvement,” but it did not give a timetable for his recovery.

Marcelo had to be replaced 10 minutes into the game in Moscow.

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7 p.m.

Colombia is moving on in the World Cup and Senegal is out, the first team to get eliminated on a new tiebreaker that punishes squads each time their players pick up yellow or red cards.

Yerry Mina scored on a header in the 74th minute to give Colombia a 1-0 win over the Senegalese and vault the South Americans from going home to winning the group. Japan beat out Senegal for the second spot despite its 1-0 loss because it accumulated four yellow cards to Senegal’s six.

It’s the first time since 1982 that no African team has qualified for the knockout stage.

Colombia and Japan go on to play opponents from Group G — either England or Belgium. Those teams play later Thursday for the top spot in their group.

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6:54 p.m.

Japan has squeaked in the knockout stage at the World cup by the narrowest of margins after losing 1-0 to Poland in its last group match. Jan Bednarek got the solitary goal of the match in the 59th minute when he beat his marker at the far post to volley in a swirling free-kick from Rafal Kurzawa.

Japan couldn’t afford to concede another goal and hung on long enough while Colombia edged Senegal 1-0 in the other Group H match taking place at the same time. Colombia topped the group with six points. Japan and Senegal had the same amount of points, goal difference and goals scored. Japan progresses because it got fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Japan fans in Volgograd cheered despite the loss after confirmation their team reached the knockout stage for the third time. Poland was already out of contention.

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6:53 p.m.

Colombia and Japan have advanced to the knockout stage at the World Cup after a tense finish to Group H.

Japan squeezed through despite a 1-0 loss to Poland — because of its disciplinary record — when Colombia beat Senegal 1-0 to top the group.

Colombia finished with six points. Japan and Senegal finished on four points and scored and conceded the same number of goals. The next tiebreaker went in Japan’s favor, because it had four yellow cards in the tournament and Senegal had six.

Poland, which was already out of contention, picked up its first win of the tournament.

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6:42 p.m.

Colombia has seized control of its World Cup group by scoring with just minutes remaining in Group H’s simultaneous matches, and Japan is set to edge Senegal for the second spot on a tiebreaker.

Yerry Mina scored on a header off a corner kick and Colombia took at 1-0 lead in their final group match against Senegal. Mina leapt above a pair of Senegalese defenders to aim the ball past Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye in the 74th minute. Juan Quintero got the assist. 

It was Mina’s second goal of the tournament and it put the enthusiastic Colombian fans at Samara Stadium in a frenzy.

Japan trails Poland 1-0 in the simultaneous match. If the scores hold, Senegal would be out of the World Cup because it has picked up more yellow cards than Japan.

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5:54 p.m.

Colombia has 45 minutes to shoot its way into the World Cup’s knockout stage, and it will have to do it without James Rodriguez.

The star midfielder was subbed out just 31 minutes into his squad’s final group match, in Samara against Senegal, which is tied 0-0 at the half. Teammate Radamel Falcao patted him on the back as Rodriguez walked slowly off the pitch with his head bowed and headed straight for the locker room. Luis Muriel replaced him.

Rodriguez has been dealing with a nagging calf injury and soreness that kept him from starting Colombia’s tournament-opening loss to Japan.

He had two assists in Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Poland on Sunday. He has six goals and four assists in eight World Cup appearances.

Colombia needs at least a point to advance to the round of 16. Senegal will make it through with a draw regardless of the result in the simultaneous match between Japan and already-eliminated Poland in Volgograd.

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5:49 p.m.

Japan and Poland are locked 0-0 at halftime in their last World Cup group match.

Japan created most of the chances during the half with Yoshinori Muto central to most of his team’s attacking forays. Muto was one of six changes to the starting lineup for the match.

Japan needs a point in Volgograd to ensure it advances regardless of the result in the Senegal vs. Colombia game being played simultaneously in Samara.

Poland, though, came closest to taking the lead when in the 32nd minute, goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima did well to keep a well-guided header from Kamil Grosicki out. Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.

Poland is already out of the tournament having lost its two previous Group H matches against Senegal and Colombia.

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5:48 p.m.

Japan and Senegal are on track to advance to the World Cup’s knockout stage and Colombia is set to go home after scoreless first halves of the final matches in Group H.

Poland and Japan are 0-0 in Volgograd and Senegal and Colombia have put up the same score so far in Samara.

Japan and Senegal have four points apiece and will make it to the next round with a draw. Colombia trails with three points and will need at least a tie to keep playing.

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5:30 p.m.

Senegal has been denied a first-half penalty kick against Colombia that the referee awarded but officials overturned after video review.

Referee Milorad Mazic of Serbia pointed to the penalty spot after defender Davinson Sanchez tackled Senegal’s Sadio Mane near the penalty spot in the 16th minute.

But officials overturned the call after reviewing video, determining that Sanchez’s heel touched the ball away before he made contact with Mane.

Colombia needs at least a draw to advance to the World Cup knockout stage, while a draw would guarantee Senegal goes through.

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5:15 p.m.

The Germany squad has made a low-key return home after their embarrassing first-round exit at the World Cup, and coach Joachim Loew’s future looks likely to remain unclear for several days.

Loew and his squad landed in Frankfurt, where captain Manuel Neuer told reporters that the players are “furious with ourselves” and insisted that the debacle was “nothing to do with the coach.”

Germany’s loss to South Korea ended its chances of defending the title it won in 2014, making Loew’s squad the fourth defending champion in the last five World Cups to be knocked out in the group stage.

German federation president Reinhard Grindel says an initial analysis of Germany’s failure will be ready next week, “and then I expect the coach will talk about his future.” Loew’s contract runs through 2022.

Loew said that “there need to be far-reaching measures, there need to be clear changes, and now we have to discuss how we do that.” He offered no details.

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4:30 p.m.

Shinji Okazaki has been included among six changes to Japan’s starting lineup for its last World Cup group match against Poland.Coach Akira Nishino prefaced changes by speaking of the need to pick a team that can cope with the hot conditions in the Volgograd Arena. Japan needs to avoid defeat to make it to the round of 16.

Poland coach Adam Nawalka has made five changes as his team aims to end a losing streak. Poland is already eliminated after losing both its games in Group H. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is included.

Lineups:

Japan: Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Gaku Shibasaki, Shinji Okazaki, Takashi Usami, Yoshinori Muto, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Hiroki Sakai, Tomoaki Makino, Gotoku Sakai, Maya Yoshida.

Poland: Lukasz Fabianski, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Jan Bednarek, Jacek Goralski, Robert Lewandowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Bartosz Bereszynski, Piotr Zielinski, Kamil Grosicki, Kamil Glik,  Rafal Kurzawa. 

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4:13 p.m.

Carlos Sanchez is back in the lineup for Colombia after sitting out a match for a red card he got three minutes into Colombia’s tournament-opening loss to Japan. Coach Jose Pekerman dedicated the team’s win in the second game to Sanchez, who reportedly had received death threats.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse made three changes from the last match, adding midfielder Cheikhou, defender Lamine Gassama and forward Keita Balde for the group finale at Samara Stadium.

Colombia sits third in the group behind Japan and Senegal and needs at least a draw to advance. A draw would guarantee that Senegal goes through.

Lineups:

Colombia: David Ospina, Santiago Arias, Carlos Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Yerry Mina, Mateus Uribe, Johan Mojica, Juan Quintero, Davinson Sanchez. 

Senegal: Khadim Ndiaye, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gane Gueye, Salif Sane, Sadio Mane, Youssouf Sabaly, Alfred Ndiaye, Ismaila Sarr, Mbaye Niang, Keitu Balde, Lamin Gasma, Cheikhou Kouyate.

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3:55 p.m.

Iran’s national team has been shaken after two top forwards declared they will retire from international duty after players were subjected to online insults.

The 23-year-old Sardar Azmoun was the target of numerous insults on social media after failing to score in any of Iran’s three group stage games at the World Cup.

Azmoun says his mother had been recovering from a serious illness but the insults caused it to flare up again. Between football and his mother, he writes on Instagram, “I chose my mother.”

The 30-year-old Reza Ghoochannejhad says he’s also leaving the national team. He was an unused substitute in all three games.

Ghoochannejhad says “my mind, my personality and my pride do not allow me” to wear the Iranian national team shirt again.

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3:45 p.m.

Brazil says Marcelo is recovering well from his back injury but it remains unclear if he will be available for the team’s round-of-16 match against Mexico on Monday.

The Brazilian federation says Marcelo is “undergoing treatment and showed good improvement,” but it did not give a timetable for his recovery.

Marcelo had to be replaced 10 minutes into Brazil’s 2-0 win against Serbia in Moscow. He limped off the field with what the federation said was a back spasm.

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2:10 p.m.

Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus says “something has to change” about the team after its World Cup group-stage exit.

As Germany travels home following the 2-0 loss to South Korea that eliminated the defending champion, Matthaeus says “we missed the team spirit. Everything that was good four years ago in Brazil was going now bad in Russia, and I think for this the team is now in the plane on the way to Germany.”

Asked if coach Joachim Loew should quit, Matthaeus says “something has to change, there’s no question, because the German team’s performance here in Russia wasn’t worthy of a German team. Whether Loew made mistakes or which players made mistakes, I think everyone played a part in this.”

Matthaeus captained the then-West Germany to the World Cup title in 1990.

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2 p.m.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been elusive for international media during the World Cup, but he made a brief exception Thursday.

Opening a soccer exhibition on Red Square with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Infantino stopped for just over a minute with reporters, saying that “the world is seeing what a fantastic party and celebration we are having here.”

Infantino last spoke with journalists at the FIFA congress before the tournament.

Infantino hails the tournament as “beautiful, unbelievable, great celebration, great matches, perfect organization, hospitable country,” and says it will raise interest in soccer in Russia.

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12:55 p.m.

Kevin De Bruyne jokingly says he has invited some Manchester City teammates to his birthday party.

De Bruyne turned 27 on Thursday, the day his Belgium team plays England at the World Cup in Kaliningrad.

In a tweet , De Bruyne says he invited some of his club teammates to his party. The tweet includes a picture of Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker, all fellow Manchester City players who are on England’s squad.

Whether they meet on the pitch remains to be seen.

Both teams already are qualified for the round of 16, and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said it would be “unprofessional” to use players who have yellow cards. De Bruyne is one of those players. A second yellow card would mean missing Belgium’s next match.

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