World Cup wrap, Day 11: England score six past subpar Panama
Story of the day
Group G always had two clear favorites to qualify but few people thought it would be this easy. England put five goals past Panama in the first 45 minutes, going into half-time with the game completely settled. Harry Kane was the main beneficiary of Panama's abysmal "defending" (we use the term advisedly), as he successfully converted two penalties.
The striker's third goal after the break – a fortunate deflection off his heel after a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot – put Kane into the lead in the Golden Boot race with five goals; one above Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukau.
England and Belgium top Group G, six points and a plus-six goal difference for both teams. Yet it's impossible to ignore how disorganized Panama looked during a first-half savaging. At least Felipe Baloy scored Panama's first ever World Cup goal – one to show his grandkids, although he may want to skip through the 78 minutes that came before it.
Today in 30 seconds
Senegal and Japan played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with the African side twice taking the lead before the Blue Samurai fought back. Keisuke Honda was the hero for Japan with a 78th-minute equalizer, the substitute becoming the first Asian player to score in three World Cups.
James Rodriguez made his first start of the 2018 World Cup and he dazzled. The Colombian attacker's cross perfectly found the head of Yerry Mina to open the scoring against Poland, Radamel Falcao made it 2-0 then James turned provider again to set up Juan Cuadrado. The Colombian No.10 finished the game with two assists. Poland finished it with no way of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Elsewhere, a "furious and upset" Diego Maradona announced that he wanted to meet the Argentina squad following last Thursday's 3-0 loss to Croatia. FourFourTwo can only recommend this as 100% a good idea that will in no way cause further havoc for a struggling Argentine team.
Play of the day
Teenage full-back Moussa Wague's thumped finish gave Senegal a 2-1 lead. But our favorite part of the move was the deft touch that M'Baye Niang got onto Youssouf Sabaly's cross to put the ball right into the path of the onrushing youngster. Japan had the better attacking chances after half-time but the Senegalese put together the best move of the game.
Man of the moment
Jesse Lingard. Harry Kane stole headlines with his hat-trick, while a double for center-back John Stones is something we never thought we'd see at Russia 2018. But Lingard was the pick of the England players as the Three Lions mauled Panama. The 25-year-old's curling shot was the pick of England's goals and the Manchester United man looked razor sharp throughout. Not bad for a player who many wouldn't have expected to be starting World Cup games a year ago.
The wacky and weird
The overly physical approach of the Panama players was especially bizarre considering how much focus there has been on holding and pushing at the 2018 World Cup. You didn't need VAR to see the range of headlocks, slaps, elbows and shirt-pulls dished out by the Panamanians. Manuel Godoy, Gabriel Gomez and Armando Cooper were particularly guilty.
As auditions for next year's WrestleMania 35, the Panamanians passed with flying colors. Unfortunately, there was less evidence here that these are World Cup-level soccer players. In Panama's last game - against Tunisia with only pride to play for on both sides - expect full-on flying elbow drops and piledrivers into the pitch.
10 a.m. ET: Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt, FS1 / Telemundo
10 a.m. ET: Uruguay vs. Russia, FOX / Telemundo
2 p.m. ET: Poland vs. Colombia, FOX / Telemundo
2 p.m. ET: Spain vs. Morocco, FS1 / Telemundo