Second Chance Saloon...Baloy's the boy

Russia World Cup 2018

With the World Cup's first phase amidst its second round of matches, the stakes get higher as elimination beckons for those who lost their opening games.

The drama gets more intense and the catharsis greater. Winning and losing swap places within unforeseen instants.

Real life can turn imminent defeat into sudden victory too but it does not perform magic so easily or regularly as football does.

It is qualities like this which makes the sport so addictive.

The current storylines in Russia 2018 have been unputdownable:

Germany were heading out of the tournament at half-time against Sweden, then saved their bacon (or their wursten) with a last-gasp winner.

Colombia were peering down the barrel after losing to Japan but tonight really turned on the style to ignite their 2018 campaign.

Nigeria were miserably useless in their first match but brilliantly joyful in their next one. Ahmed Musa's aeroplane celebration after his second goal was the epitome of happy.

Switzerland were browbeaten in the first half against Serbia, but glorious in the second

And so it goes on.

Redemption stories are one of football's great lessons - there is always a second chance if you believe.

* Quote of the Day:
"I didn't like their start and I didn't like their goal at the end..I enjoyed the win against Tunisia more" - England coach Gareth Southgate raining on his side's 6-1 hammering of Panama parade.

Panama of course were eliminated from their first World Cup finals today, but you would not have known it as the little Central American nation went crazy at netting their first goal in finals history.

Felipe Baloy has now gone down in Panamanian history, much like El Salvador's 'Pele' Zapata, who was equally ecstatic netting his country's first and so far only goal in the World Cup and remains a national hero, despite an unflattering scoreline in Espana '82.

Saransk to Kazan

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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