Uruguay dealt the hosts something of a reality check with a 3-0 win in Samara to secure top spot in Group A, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani netting either side of Denis Cheryshev’s own goal.
Oscar Tabarez’s side will go into a last-16 clash with Portugal, who finished second in Group B following a 1-1 draw with Iran as part of a dramatic conclusion to the two late kick-offs.
There were late goals and VAR controversy aplenty but in the end, Spain’s 2-2 draw with Morocco was enough to secure first place and a second-round meeting with Russia.
Away from the action on the pitch, Iceland and Colombia fans continued to enjoy themselves while there were some interesting media-conference shenanigans. It’s the World Cup daily diary!
COLOMBIA GET THE PARTY STARTED
Despite their team’s disappointing start to the World Cup in the 2-1 defeat to Japan, Colombia’s fans have left people in awe everywhere they’ve been so far.
And, after seeing their campaign kick-started on Sunday with an impressive 3-0 win over Poland, there was only one thing for it.
Word spread quickly in the days leading up to the game about a Colombian “after party” at a hotel just over the river from the Kazan Arena – the Korston’s rooftop signage viewable for several kilometres, acting as a beacon for those in the mood.
Colombia fans packed the place out from midnight until 6 am, their yellow shirts dominating the entire nightclub, while a Radamel Falcao towel acted as something of a shrine to the man who finally got his first World Cup goal earlier in the night.
Ever the professionals, we avoided the temptation of becoming honorary Colombians and dancing the night away.
CHUCKLE BROTHERS CHERCHESOV AND SUAREZ
They were on opposite ends of the scoreline on Monday, but Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov and Uruguay striker Suarez found common ground in raising smiles from journalists in their news conferences.
Man of the Match Suarez was first up, having opened the scoring with a 10th-minute free-kick to set Uruguay on their way to victory.
But, asked by a Russian reporter why he always looked sad and only appeared happy when he scored, the Barcelona forward replied simply: “What a waste of time, next question.”
Cue much mirth, which was only added to as Cherchesov departed his seat at the end of his questions.
“That’s it? No applause, nothing?” he said, before taking it upon himself to start off the clapping.
ICELAND FANS FOLLOW THEIR TEAM’S EXAMPLE
After a surprisingly sane taxi ride from the stadium to the city centre, Omnisport’s crew on the ground in Rostov-on-Don had a lunch of Solyanka – a thick, spicy and sour Russian soup – alongside the small pockets of Iceland fans who are starting to arrive in the city.
They’re actually similar to the team – compared to the colorful fancy dress and riotous behavior of the Brazil and Mexico supporters, individual Iceland fans are modest and unassuming, as they resisted the urges of locals to perform the famous Viking thunderclap without sufficient numbers.
But get them together and give them a unified purpose, and we all know what they’re capable of, so expect plenty of noise at Rostov Arena tomorrow night.
KASPER DELIVERS KILLER PUT-DOWN
Sometimes a long question does not require a long answer.
That was certainly the case in the Denmark news conference on Monday when one journalist quizzed goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Instead of making it succinct, the man in question embarked on an epic ramble on whether Schmeichel felt any extra pressure being the son of Peter, the former Manchester United shot-stopper, who won the 1992 European Championship with the Scandinavian country.
Kasper waited patiently for the monologue to end, and then lent towards the microphone and, with a smile, simply said: “No.”
Comedy is all about the timing.
SUAREZ BRINGS NIZHNY TO ITS KNEES
FIFA’s Fan Fests have largely been a great success, with supporters from across the world mixing happily in host venues while watching matches on the big screen.
Nizhny Novgorod has been no different, with Monday’s clash between the hosts and Uruguay bringing out Russians by the thousands, as well as fans of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and even England.
The locals thronging the Nizhny Kremlin had enjoyed nothing but success so far, but Suarez’s early free-kick brought them crashing back to earth, sapping the early positivity from the crowd.
It is, truly, heart-breaking footage. At least Russia went through anyway.