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Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho both featured for Brazil, who clinched top spot in Group E with a solid 2-0 victory over Serbia, but there was bitter disappointment for Ilkay Gundogan, as Germany crashed out of the tournament with a sensational 2-0 defeat to South Korea.
Paulinho and Thiago Silva were on the scoresheet for the Selecao, while Gabriel Jesus had chances to extend the lead. The City striker completed the full game, shrugging off an ankle injury sustained on 25 minutes, with Fernandinho a second half substitute. Ederson remained on the bench but Danilo was unavailable for selection with a thigh problem.
Former Blue Aleks Kolarov captained Serbia, who had needed a victory to qualify.
Brazil finished top of the group with seven points – two more than Switzerland, whose 2-2 draw with Costa Rica secured their progression. The Selecao will play Mexico in the Round of 16 on 2 July (3pm), while Switzerland will face Sweden the following day (also 3pm).
The day's major surprise occurred in Group F, as Germany failed to reach the knockout-stages for the first time in their history.
Gundogan was an unused substitute as the holders fell to two late South Korea goals, which amazingly marked the fourth occasion of the last five tournaments that the reigning champions had not progressed from the group stage.
With Sweden leading second-placed Mexico 3-0, Die Mannschaft needed just one goal to clinch progression but as Joachim Low’s side pressed, Kim Young-Gwon (with the help of VAR) and Son Heung-min netted in injury time to send the holders home.
The result meant Sweden and Mexico claimed the top two spots with six points apiece, while South Korea claimed third place and Germany finished bottom. In total, Gundogan completed only 60 minutes of the tournament, gained in the 2-1 triumph over Sweden.
Thursday’s attention turns to Group G with England and Belgium set to lock horns, vying for top spot.
The Three Lions currently sit in first place, courtesy of the fair play ruling, as Gareth Southgate’s men have picked up one booking less than the Red Devils, with both sides level on points, goal difference and goals scored.
With two victories each, the pair have already qualified for the last 16, leaving their remaining fixture as the decider of the final standings – and the advantages of both scenarios have been much-deliberated in the lead up to the clash.
The winners of the group will face the runners-up of Group H – either Japan, Senegal or Colombia – on 2 July at 7pm. The second-placed side would oppose the Group H winners 24 hours later.
City’s Three Lions quartet of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph have all featured so far, with Stones hitting the headlines following his impressive two-goal haul against Panama.
Both sides are expected to rotate their squads but with 'the best case scenario' up for grabs and potentially six City stars in action, there will be plenty of interest in the encounter in Kaliningrad.
In the other Group G game, Panama and Tunisia go head-to-head for third place (also 7pm).
At 3pm, Japan (currently top of Group H) face Poland, needing a point to clinch qualification. Senegal play Colombia, in the knowledge a point would be enough for the African side to progress. A draw would also suit Colombia, if Japan were to lose to Poland.
Serbia 0-2 Brazil
Switzerland 2-2 Costa Rica
Mexico 0-3 Sweden
South Korea 2-0 Germany
England v Belgium (7pm, ITV)
Panama v Tunisia (7pm, ITV 4)
Japan v Poland (3pm, BBC Two)
Senegal v Colombia (3pm, BBC One)
All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from across this morning's back pages.
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