Some matches really matter now, because the end of the road beckons for some.
In Group A, Netherlands 2-0 Qatar barely mattered. Qatar was already eliminated, and no one expected them to offer much of a challenge to the Dutch. That left Ecuador and Senegal to fight for second place. Ecuador entered the match with a one point lead, but Senegal scored a penalty at the end of the first half to take over second place. Ecuador rallied with a goal in the 67th minute, only to see the African champions regain the lead just three minutes later on a goal from Kalidou Koulibaly, who had his best match of the Cup so far. I'm glad to see Senegal remain ... their fans are great fun to watch.
In Group B, England 3-0 Wales is the one that barely mattered, although some held out hope the Welsh might surprise. Once again, we had a match for second place. Iran advanced with a draw or a win, while the U.S. had to win to grab second place. The Iranian attempt to park the bus didn't work, as the Americans dominated the first half, with Pulisic scoring a fine team goal to put the U.S. up at the half. The second half was more even, and late in the match, Gregg Berhalter made a batch of defensive subs hoping to hold on for the win. But the Iranians, try as they might, didn't ever really mount a comeback, and while it was tense at the end, the U.S. deserved their victory.
This sets up Netherlands-USA on Saturday and England-Senegal on Sunday. The European teams will be favored in both matches.
Group C will be interesting tomorrow. Poland is the current leader with 4 points, but they'll be playing an Argentina team that should squash them, to be honest. Mexico is favored against Saudi Arabia, but the Mexicans only have 1 point so far ... even a win may not get them to the next round.
Europe should look good in tomorrow's Group D matches, as well. France has already qualified for the next round, so the big match will be Australia-Denmark. The Danes should win, and they will have to, since at the moment, Australia has 3 points to Denmark's 1.