The 21st edition of the World Cup kicked off June 14 in Moscow with host Russia’s 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia, and concluded with France’s 4-2 title-winning triumph over Croatia on July 15 in the same city before a global television audience that was expected to exceed 1 billion people.
The 12 host venues (in 11 cities, with two stadiums in Moscow) were spread across four time zones and roughly 1,500 miles from Kaliningrad in the far west to the easternmost host city, Ekaterinburg. But that’s a relatively contained area within the world’s largest country, which spans 11 time zones and more than 5,700 miles in all.
Follow the links below to recaps to every match played in the 2018 World Cup.
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StandingsUpdated July 15, 2018
Thursday, June 14
Group A: Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0
Russia rolled to the largest margin of victory in a host country’s opening match in World Cup history, according to ESPN.
Friday, June 15
Group A: Uruguay 1, Egypt 0
Jose Gimenez’s late header was enough, as the Pharaohs played without superstar Mohamed Salah.
Group B: Iran 1, Morocco 0
Even match ended with a painful own goal to give Team Melli the second World Cup win in its history (the other was over the U.S. in 1998).
Group B: Portugal 3, Spain 3
The marquee matchup more than delivered, capped by Ronaldo’s brilliant free kick in the 88th minute to give him a hat trick and Portugal a point.
Saturday, June 16
Group C: France 2, Australia 1
Heavily favored France struggled but overcame its gritty, physical opponent. The new VAR system also came into play, awarding a penalty kick for each side.
Group D: Iceland 1, Argentina 1
Hannes Halldorsson made six saves, one on a Lionel Messi penalty kick, to give Iceland a hugely important point despite being outshot 27-8 and outpossessed nearly 4 to 1.
Group C: Denmark 1, Peru 0
Denmark survived a slew of Peruvian chances and got the winning goal on a counterattack in the 59th minute.
Group D: Croatia 2, Nigeria 0
Croatia took the lead in the first half on an own goal and put it away in the second with a Luka Modric penalty kick — the fifth awarded in the day’s four games.
Sunday, June 17
Group E: Serbia 1, Costa Rica 0
Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas fought off a barrage of challenges before Aleksandar Kolarov broke through on a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute.
Group F: Mexico 1, Germany 0
The first big upset came courtesy of Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s sparkling goal in the 35th minute — which reportedly set off seismic readers back home.
Group E: Brazil 1, Switzerland 1
Philippe Coutinho blasted a volley to give tournament co-favorite Brazil an early lead, but the game slowed down and Steven Zuber tied it on a header in the 50th.
Monday, June 18
Group F: Sweden 1, South Korea 0
Sweden won its opening World Cup match for the first time since 1958 on a penalty kick in the 64th minute by Andreas Granqvist after a review changed the no-call.
The Red Devils struggled early against Panama’s more rough-and-tumble style, but the humidity in Sochi taxed Los Canaleros in the second half.
Group G: England 2, Tunisia 1
Tunisia put a scare in the Three Lions with a first-half penalty kick, but captain Harry Kane scored twice, the latter on a header in extra time, to lift England in Volgograd.
Tuesday, June 19
Group H: Japan 2, Colombia 1
Another group favorite took it on the chin its opener. Colombia played a man down for 87 minutes after Carlos Sanchez was red-carded for a deliberate handball that set up on the opening goal on a penalty kick.
Group H: Senegal 2, Poland 1
The Lions of Teranga got an own goal in the first half and the game-winner with some controversy: Mbaye Niang returned to the field from treatment just in time to intercept a backpass to Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Group A: Russia 3, Egypt 1
Russia all but clinched passage to the knockout round and doomed Egypt. The Pharaohs allowed the fifth own goal of the tournament to break a scoreless tie, and then their defense fell apart.
Wednesday, June 20
Group B: Portugal 1, Morocco 0
Ronaldo banged in his fourth goal of the tournament, in the fourth minute. Morocco was the better team for much of the match, but Portugal got three points to eliminate the Atlas Lions.
Group A: Uruguay 1, Saudi Arabia 0
Luis Suarez scored, and Uruguay did what was required — though very little more — to clinch advancement and set up a meeting with Russia for the top of the group.
Group B: Spain 1, Iran 0
Diego Costa’s deflected goal early in the second half — his third goal of the tournament — kept Spain level with Portugal atop the group and made this the first World Cup since 1954 without a 0-0 draw in the first 20 matches.
Thursday, June 21
Group C: Denmark 1, Australia 1
Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick in the 38th minute tied the match and kept alive slim hopes for Australia to advance. The Danes had a streak of five consecutive shutouts snapped.
Group C: France 1, Peru 0
Les Bleus moved through to the round of 16 as Kylian Mbappe, 19, became its youngest player ever to score in the World Cup. Peru was eliminated.
Group D: Croatia 3, Argentina 0
Croatia blistered a slow, indecisive Argentina side that was left needing help to advance. Luka Modric provided a highlight with his blast in the 80th minute to make it 2-0.
Friday, June 22
Group E: Brazil 2, Costa Rica 0
Brazil appeared headed for trouble with consecutive stalemates to start the tournament until Philippe Coutinho and Neymar each scored in injury time.
Group D: Nigeria 2, Iceland 0
The Super Eagles’ sharp counterattacking and Ahmed Musa’s two goals set up a big match with Argentina with many advancement scenarios at stake.
Group E: Switzerland 2, Serbia 1
Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri — ethnic Kosovar Albanians who are eligible to play for the now-independent country of Kosovo — made pregame gestures in support of the former Serb republic, then scored.
Saturday, June 23
Group G: Belgium 5, Tunisia 2
The Red Devils, led by two goals apiece by Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, looked like a complete attacking force. Both star forwards even got to rest early for tougher tests ahead.
Group F: Mexico 2, South Korea 1
Carlos Vela scored the 14th penalty-kick goal of the tournament (a record), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored his 50th for Mexico (extending his national team record) and Mexico held off a late rally.
Group F: Germany 2, Sweden 1
The defending champion, playing with 10 men late in injury time, needed an astonishing finish to stay alive: Marco Reus teed up Toni Kroos’s goal off a free kick for a desperation win.
Sunday, June 24
Group G: England 6, Panama 1
Harry Kane scored a hat trick to take the tournament scoring lead, and England advanced with its biggest victory margin at the World Cup and its highest-scoring game since 1966.
Group H: Japan 2, Senegal 2
The Group H upstarts remained tied for first after a back-and-forth affair. Senegal twice took the lead but each time Japan equalized, capped by Keisuke Honda’s goal in the 78th minute.
Group H: Colombia 3, Poland 0
Colombia kept its hopes alive and eliminated disappointing Poland in a surprisingly lopsided affair. The second goal, scored by Radamel Falcao off an superb pass from Juan Quintero, was the emotional high point for Colombia.
Monday, June 25
Group A: Uruguay 3, Russia 0
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani scored as Uruguay remained unbeaten and won the group. Russia played a man short for much of the match. Both teams are through to the next round.
Group A: Saudi Arabia 2, Egypt 1
Salam Al-Dawsari scored the winner as stoppage time ran out, giving the Saudis their first win of the tournament. The Pharaohs got a goal from Mohamed Salah, but failed to win a game in the tournament.
Group B: Iran 1, Portugal 1
After a handball call on Portugal, Iran’s Karim Ansarifard scored on a penalty kick in the 94th minute to tie the game, but it wasn’t enough to keep Portugal from advancing. It will face Group A champion Uruguay on Saturday.
Group B: Spain 2, Morocco 2
There was drama in the closing minutes as a goal by Spain was under review to determine if Iago Aspas was offside, but officials ruled for the Spanish, who wound up as Group B champions. They’ll play Russia in the next round.
Tuesday, June 26
Group C: Peru 2, Australia 0
Peru scored its first World Cup goal since 1982 and, with captain Paolo Guerrero’s goal, clinched its first World Cup win since 1978.
Group C: France 0, Denmark 0
With both teams in control of advancement, they played it safe — and dull — in producing the tournament’s first scoreless draw. The slow play drew jeers from fans.
Group D: Croatia 2, Iceland 1
Iceland needed a win for any hope to move on but already-advanced Croatia, which rested several of its regulars, scored the winner in the 90th minute off a defensive error.
Group D: Argentina 2, Nigeria 1
Marcos Rojo scored on a wicked volley in the 86th minute to help Lionel Messi, who also scored, and Argentina escape a rare early exit and eliminate Nigeria.
Wednesday, June 27
Group F: South Korea 2, Germany 0
A stunner in Kazan, with the off-target defending champion’s loss, combined with Sweden’s victory over Mexico, sealing its earliest exit from the World Cup since 1938.
Group F: Sweden 3, Mexico 0
Sweden scored all of its goals in a dominant second half to win the group. Mexico also moved on to the knockout round for the seventh straight time, thanks to South Korea.
Group E: Switzerland 2, Costa Rica 2
Switzerland twice lost the lead but moved through to the round of 16 without too much stress, thanks in part to Brazil’s win. Costa Rica was the last team to record a goal in the group stage.
Group E: Brazil 2, Serbia 0
Brazil’s first two matches were full of nervous moments, but it controlled this from the start, won the group and eliminated Serbia. Paulinho and Thiago Silva were the goal-scorers.
Thursday, June 28
Group H: Poland 1, Japan 0
Japan became the first team to survive and advance in the World Cup on a new tiebreaker — fewer yellow cards. It was otherwise tied with Senegal on points, goal differential, goals scored and head to head. Poland, already eliminated, got the win on Jan Bednarek’s second-half volley.
Group H: Colombia 1, Senegal 0
Yerry Mina scored on a header in the 74th minute to advance Colombia, which won the group. Senegal’s elimination — because of six yellow cards in three matches to Japan’s four — left no African teams in the round of 16.
Group G: Belgium 1, England 0
The game lacked intensity with both teams having advanced and looking ahead to the next round. England and Belgium made a combined 17 changes from their second-game lineups, resting a half-dozen of the best players in the tournament.
Group G: Tunisia 2, Panama 1
Goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi saved a free kick in the final moments of stoppage time to preserve a World Cup win for the Eagles of Carthage.
Saturday, June 30
Round of 16: France 4, Argentina 2
Kylian Mbappe, 19, scored twice to become the youngest player to record a multi-goal game at the World Cup since Pele, who was 17 when he did it in two matches in 1958.
Round of 16: Uruguay 2, Portugal 1
Edinson Cavani scored twice before limping off the field to lead Uruguay into a quarterfinal matchup with France. Cristiano Ronaldo was sent home just hours after his chief rival for the title of world’s top player, Lionel Messi of Argentina.
Sunday, July 1
Round of 16: Russia 1, Spain 1 (Russia advances, 4-3, on PKs)
Defensive-minded Russia pulled, by FIFA ranking, the biggest-ever upset in the knockout stage of the World Cup. The hosts were ranked 70th in the world entering the tournament; the Spaniards, 10th.
Round of 16: Croatia 1, Denmark 1 (Croatia advances, 3-2, on PKs)
Croatia and Denmark needed fewer than four minutes to equal what Spain and Russia scored. But in the end it came down to goalkeepers. Kasper Schmeichel of Denmark stopped a Luka Modric penalty late in added time, but Danijel Subasic made three saves in the tiebreaker to see Croatia through.
Monday, July 2
Round of 16: Brazil 2, Mexico 0
Brazil continued to ramp up, controlling the second half and getting goals from Neymar and Firmino. Mexico lost in the round of 16 for the seventh consecutive World Cup.
Round of 16: Belgium 3, Japan 2
A strong candidate for match of the tournament, with all five goals in the second half. Japan, the massive underdog, bravely attacked for a 2-0 lead before a desperate Belgium broke through in the 69th and 74th minutes, then got the winner in fourth minute of stoppage time, seconds before the final whistle.
Tuesday, July 3
Round of 16: Sweden 1, Switzerland 0
Emil Forsberg’s shot in the 66th minute deflected off a Swiss defender’s foot and into the net, breaking a stalemate of defense and fizzled opportunities. The Swedes then held off intense pressure to advance.
The Three Lions won banished the misery of three previous World Cup eliminations on penalties (tied for most all-time with Italy and Spain). Harry Kane extended his lead in the Golden Boot race with his sixth goal, from the penalty spot in the 57th. Yerry Mina tied it late in second-half stoppage time with his third goal of the tournament, all on headers.
Friday, July 6
Quarterfinal: France 2, Uruguay 0
Raphael Varane headed home a free kick from Antoine Griezmann late in the first half, and France sealed a semifinal berth when Griezmann added a second-half goal on a misplayed shot by Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Uruguay played without injured striker Edinson Cavani, who had three goals in the tournament.
Quarterfinal: Belgium 2, Brazil 1
Belgium’s “golden generation” broke past the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time and set up the first all-European World Cup semifinal field since 2006. The Red Devils took a 2-0 first-half lead on an own goal followed by a splendid finish by Kevin de Bruyne, then held on after Renato Augusto halved the deficit in the 76th minute.
Saturday, July 7
Quarterfinal: England 2, Sweden 0
The Three Lions rolled into the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990 thanks to headed goals by Harry Maguire and Dele Alli. Maguire’s goal was his first for the national team and the eighth on a set piece by England this tournament. England’s 11 goals equaled the national World Cup record set by the 1966 championship team.
Quarterfinal: Russia 2, Croatia 2 (Croatia advances, 4-3, on PKs)
An exhausting match saw players dropping like flies, and Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic playing through a leg injury suffered late in regulation. There were two goals on headers in added time — Domagoj Vida for Croatia in the 100th minute, then Mario Fernandes equalizing on a free kick after a handball in the 115th. Ivan Rakitic finally settled it with the final kick of the tiebreaker.
Tuesday, July 10
Semifinal: France 1, Belgium 0
The tournament’s star, the set piece, struck again as the deciding factor when center back Samuel Umtiti headed in a corner kick by Antoine Griezmann in the 51st minute. Les Bleus, aided by a couple of outstanding saves by Hugo Lloris, shut out the Red Devils for the first time in the tournament.
Wednesday, July 11
Semifinal: Croatia 2, England 1
Mario Mandzukic scored in the second half of extra time to send Croatia to the final for the first time and deny England its first trip to the final since its lone title in 1966. For the third consecutive game, the Croatians rallied from a goal down and required 120 minutes of game time — though they settled this one before penalty kicks.
Saturday, July 14
Third-place match: Belgium 2, England 0
Belgium sealed its best finish in a World Cup on goals by Thomas Meunier in the fourth minute and Eden Hazard in the 82nd. It was the Red Devils’ second win over England in the tournament, following a 1-0 decision in the group stage.
Sunday, July 15
Final: France 4, Croatia 2
France claimed its second World Cup title in the highest-scoring final since England beat Germany, 4-2, in extra time in 1966, and the highest-scoring in regulation since Brazil’s 5-2 triumph over Sweden in 1958. Didier Deschamps joined Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer as the only men to win a World Cup as player and coach. Luka Modric of Croatia was voted the Golden Ball Award winner as the tournament’s top player.