Africa-Press – Eritrea. The World Cup’s group stage ended Friday with 120 goals scored in 48 matches in Qatar. The group stage was held between Nov. 20 and Dec. 2. The top two teams in the eight groups qualified for the Round of 16.
The remaining teams in the knockout phase will be vying for the 2022 world title. The Netherlands, Senegal, England, Argentina, Poland, France, Japan, Spain, Morocco, Croatia, Brazil, Switzerland, Portugal and South Korea all still have dreams of hoisting the trophy.
The US and Australia were eliminated Saturday. Host nation Qatar, Ecuador, Iran, Wales, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Denmark, Germany, Costa Rica, Belgium, Canada, Cameroon, Serbia, Uruguay and Ghana did not manage to get out of the group stage.
120 goals scored in groups
A total of 120 goals in 48 matches were scored in the group stage, averaging 2.5 goals per match. But Qatar is the most goal-shy tournament since the 2010 World Cup which was hosted by South Africa.
In the 2010 group stage, 101 goals were scored. In Brazil 2014, teams scored 136 goals in the group phase. In Russia 2018, 122 goals were scored before the last 16.
In the current World Cup, England and Spain each scored nine goals in the group stage. Belgium, Denmark, Qatar, Tunisia and Wales scored the least — a single goal each.
Costa Rica conceded the most in Qatar 2022 — 11 goals in Group E. Brazil, Croatia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Tunisia and the US conceded the least in Qatar — one each.
5 players atop scorers list
Five players scored three goals each to top the goal scoring table: Enner Valencia (Ecuador), Marcus Rashford (England), Kylian Mbappe (France), Cody Gakpo (Netherlands) and Alvaro Morata (Spain). Rashford, Mbappe, Gakpo and Morata have a chance to add to their stats. Valencia cannot because Ecuador were eliminated.
No team won all group games in Qatar
No team has won all three group matches since the 1994 World Cup. That run continued in Qatar. But in the six editions after 1994, at least one team had nine points in three matches to make it into the last 16.
166 yellow cards, 2 reds brandished
Referees have shown 166 yellow cards and two red cards in Qatar. Saudi Arabia collected the most yellow cards with 14. Meanwhile, England did not receive a yellow card.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and Cameroon forward Vincent Aboubakar was sent off in the group stage. Hennessey was shown the first red card in the tournament in a match against Iran on Nov. 25 — five days after it kicked off.
3 head coaches lose jobs
Three head coaches left their posts after their nations failed to qualify for the Round of 16. Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez, Ghana’s Otto Addo and Mexico’s Gerardo Martino lost their jobs as the teams they managed could not advance in Qatar.
Ronaldo, Messi, Neuer, French ref Frappart make history
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Germany’s Manuel Neuer and French referee Stephanie Frappart set records in Qatar. Ronaldo, 37, became the first player to score in five World Cup finals.
The experienced forward previously scored in the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 tournaments. Messi, 35, became the only player to have an assist in five World Cups.
The Argentine superstar provided at least one assist in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022. With 19 games, Neuer, 36, had the most goalkeeping appearances in World Cup history.
And Frappart from France became the first woman to officiate a World Cup men’s match. Frappart, 38, refereed the Costa Rica vs. Germany match in Group E. Former champions Germany were eliminated in the group stage despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 on Thursday in their last match.