World Cup winners and losers Week 3 Maradona kick saveanown goal(again

World Cup winners and losers, Week 3: Maradona, kick saves and own goals (again)

Colombias forward Falcao (right) celebrates as his team scores on Senegal Thursday.

Colombias forward Falcao (right) celebrates as his team scores on Senegal Thursday. (Getty photo)

World Cupgroup play has concluded and the knockout round is off to an electric start. Lets dig in.

A hallmark of hockey took its place in World Cup history as Russia stunned Spain on Sunday after Igor Akinfeevs left foot deflected Spains last hope.

The great former footballer Diego Maradona flashed both middle fingers and yelled an anti-gay slur on live TV after Argentinas 2-1 victory over Nigeria just days afterFIFAfined Argentina more than $100,000 because supporters sang homophobic chants and fought opposing fans during their teams 3-0 loss to Croatia (although some of the penalty was because players blew off their mandatory post-match interviews). Mexico was fined about $10,000 because its fans sang homophobic chants during its 1-0 victory over Germany but managed to rein in its supporters after that.

Thats hardly the only example of boorish behavior by Maradona, whos attending the World Cup as a FIFA ambassador and, according to Londons Telegraph, is paid about $13,000 plus expenses for each event he attends. He has had to apologize for smoking a cigar in a stadium where smoking is not allowed. Maradona, who suffered what he said was a fainting episode while watching a match, also has been accused of pulling his eyelids taut while looking over at South Korea supporters.

Supporters in Switzerland crowdsourced an effort to pay FIFA fines levied against Swiss players Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner. FIFA deemed their double-eagle gestures meant to evoke the Albanian flag during a 2-1 victory over Serbia unsportsmanlike. Xhaka and Shaqiri are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, site of a Serb crackdown that ended only with NATO intervention in 1999. The fans raised $16,000 of their $25,000 goal in 18 hours, according to the BBC.

Senegal became the first team ever eliminated by a crazy new tiebreaker the number of yellow cards. Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except fair-play points, based on yellow and red cards. Japan had four yellow cards, Senegal had six. Next time, the decision should come down to number of flops.

One of soccers greatest players ever bowed out Saturday, ending his fourth and likely last bid to win the World Cup. As great as he has been, he might never get out of the shadow of Maradona, who led Argentina to the title in 1986.

Far from the anthem controversies here, so great to see the players singing their national songs with such gusto. And is there a better anthem than Uruguays lovely Orientales, la Patria o la Tumba?

Brazilian fans in Lebanon held funeral marches for Germany after the defending champs got knocked out.

The time-space continuum will never be the same after the 19-year-old French striker bent it in destroying Argentina and turning Messi into a homeward-bound colossus.

Bewildering decisions, crackpot subs and not using Paulo Dybala, to at least go down with guns blazing. The rebuilding process for Argentina starts now.

The Uruguayan forward widely known as a bottler, removed the face of evil from the World Cup with a pair of dazzling goals then he pulled his hamstring. Because Cavani.

Dancing, preening, getting dispossessed and banging away at silly shots in an ineffectual display as his Portugal team is going home.

Two spectacular knockout-stage matches put the lie to notions that the finals wont be as bonkers as the group stages. Two matches on Saturday, and 10 goals. Both matches Sunday settled by penalty kicks. Lets party.

Messi and Ronaldo have probably played their last World Cup. The two players who have defined a generation are past their prime. It looks like neither will win a World Cup, which is sad.

Officials at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club have shot down the notion that they might tweak their schedule so the mens final at Wimbledon wont run up against the World Cup title game on July 15. This is particularly notable as England has advanced to the knockout rounds. At its peak, late in the second half, Englands victory over Panama on June 24 attracted an 82.9 percent share of those watching TV back home.

After the depths of despair via that late, late Germany goal, they wound up winning the group on a day of Group F madness.

Teams just cant stop scoring on themselves, setting a World Cup record with 10 own goals and counting.

The Mexico coach loves rotation. So, of course, he doesnt rotate and his side gets hammered 3-0 by Sweden. The soccer gods have a sense of humor, at least.

The German midfielder, after scoring the goal that gave Germany life, made the pass that allowed South Korea to put Germany to the sword.

Germanys Toni Kroos grabs his bag at the Moscow airport on his way home after losing in the World Cups group stage.

Germanys Toni Kroos grabs his bag at the Moscow airport on his way home after losing in the World Cups group stage. (REX/Shutterstock)

Three straight defending champions have been knocked out in the group stage. Auf Wiedersehen, Die Mannschaft.

Theres no better way to celebrate your teams goal than picking up the ball and drop-kicking it off the post and into your face.

What a fantastic team, that played brilliant, entertaining football. Everybodys sentimental favorite, they are still watching from home.

It giveth, it taketh away. What we ultimately learned is that it is a tool that still needs to be properly used.

On Wednesday, all El Tri needed to advance to the knockout round was not to get crushed by Sweden. But Sweden did just that, winning 3-0. Fortunately for them, South Korea pulled a stunner, beating Germany 2-0. Mexico advances and will face Brazil.

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