In Group A, underwhelming Netherlands made sure of first place with a pedestrian 2-0 win over eliminated no-hopers Qatar while Senegal took second by overcoming Ecuador 2-1.
In Group B, England recovered from a turgid goalless draw with the USA to dispatch Wales 3-0. A 1-0 win against Iran was enough for the USA to advance to the next round.
In Group C, concluded on Wednesday (played after the Resident went to press), Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia were all still in contention for top spot with Mexico also not out of it yet.
In Group D, France have already secured qualification to the knock-out stage and should have been joined by Wednesday’s winners of the Australia v Denmark match.
In Group E, Spain’s 1-1 draw with Germany coupled with Costa Rica’s surprise win over Japan leaves all four countries in a position to qualify depending on Thursday’s Spain v Japan and Germany v Costa Rica results.
In Group F, Morocco grabbed the headlines with a 2-0 win over highly rated Belgium and can secure qualification with a win over already beaten-off Canada while Belgium’s clash with Croatia will decide who joins them amongst the last 16.
In Group G, Brazil’s wins over Serbia and Switzerland already made sure of a place in the next round, leaving the latter two together with Cameroon to fight out the runner-up spot.
In Group H, Portugal also secured progression to the next phase with wins over Ghana and Uruguay (face each other on Friday) with the Africans in pole position to join Ronaldo and company following their win over South Korea who take on manager Fernando Santos’ men at the same time (3pm).
There will be no time to take a break as the knock-out stage of the competition gets under way on Saturday with Holland v USA followed by England v Senegal on Sunday already confirmed. Portugal should return to action on Tuesday against the Group G runners-up.