Friday 18 January 2019

World Cup player watch: The games keep coming, on and off the pitch

A daily look at what the tournament’s players have been getting up to in their time off the pitch.

Jordan Pickford played darts during the press conference at Repino Cronwell Park (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Jordan Pickford played darts during the press conference at Repino Cronwell Park (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Josh Luckhurst, Press Association Sport

The 2018 World Cup opened in emphatic style on Thursday following Russia’s dominant 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia and the hosts lapped up the attention after their first victory in eight matches.

Denis Cheryshev, who started on the substitutes bench, was awarded the first man-of-the-match award of the tournament following his two-goal display and the trophy is pretty impressive.

England play their World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday and manager Gareth Southgate had a full bill of health when Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford returned to training after sustaining a knock before travelling to Russia.

And the 20-year-old seemed “in good spirits” as he joked with his team-mates.

Ashley Young (left) and Marcus Rashford (centre) during a training session at the Spartak Zelenogorsk (Owen Humphreys/PA)
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In good spirits ✨

A post shared by Marcus Rashford (@marcusrashford) on

On Thursday, the England players enjoyed a spot of bowling during a media session in Repino and the games continued on Friday with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford stepping up to the dartboard, under the pressure of the British press.

Jordan Pickford played darts during the press conference at Repino Cronwell Park (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Elsewhere, several World Cup stars are saying “Eid Mubarak” as they mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who immediately retired from international football after missing out on Belgium’s World Cup squad, is still supporting his country as they open their Group G campaign against Panama.

Luckily, the match kicks off on Monday afternoon as it appears he still needs to learn the national anthem despite picking up 30 caps for Belgium.

In Russia, it looks like his former international colleagues are not missing the maverick midfielder too much – if the boyband pose during a training session in Moscow is anything to go by.

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Doing what we do...

A post shared by Mousa Dembele (@mousadembele) on

And finally, after the five-goal blitz on Thursday, there was much hope of this continuing in the clash between Uruguay and Egypt on Friday afternoon.

However, the Group A match still brought drama as defender Jose Maria Gimenez headed home the only goal of the game in the 90th minute to nick all three points for Uruguay.

Press Association

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