Takehiro Tomiyasu described his own performance as a "disaster" as Japan were knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia on Monday.

Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida all missed their spot-kicks in a shoot-out following a 1-1 draw at Al Janoub Stadium, with Croatia advancing to a quarter-final against Brazil.

It meant Japan have been eliminated from all four of their round-of-16 appearances at the World Cup, while they have lost both of their penalty shoot-outs in the competition (also versus Paraguay in 2010).

Tomiyasu registered the worst pass completion rate of any outfield player to play the full 120 minutes (67.7 per cent), while he lost possession a game-high 27 times.

The Arsenal defender, who also failed to make a single tackle or interception, was disappointed with his display and said Japan need to be "much, much better" in future.

"Of course, we are so disappointed with the result," he said.

"My performance was a disaster so I am sorry for the team. I just need to be much, much better to help the team.

"It was not enough and also for the team, we did not deserve to win. We were so close to achieving our aim. They were better than us.

"I can't be proud. I am not satisfied about what happened. This is football and we need to be much, much better to win against a stronger team."

Tomiyasu will return to club duty with Arsenal now and will hope to feature in the Premier League leaders' first match after the World Cup against West Ham on December 26. 

South Africa winger Sbu Nkosi says he has been "curled up in a ball" amid his disappearance, after the World Cup winner was found "safe and sound".

The Bulls, Nkosi's domestic team, confirmed the 26-year-old had been found after discovering his whereabouts on Monday, with the club having had no contact with the player since mid-November.

Nkosi, a member of the Springboks team that claimed victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was not revealed to be missing publicly until his team confirmed they had filed a report over the weekend.

But now he has revealed he has been staying with family, disclosing he has taken time away to deal with mental health struggles.

"I'm a lot better," he told News24. "There's obviously a lot to speak about that I can't say out loud, but my condition is improving.

"It's just been a whole lot of mental pressure. It's been building up for a couple of years now. 

"There's too much to go into: the expectations, the fact that by choosing to take care of myself right now, there are people I'm letting down, and that also hurts me.

"There's a lot, but I'm at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player right now. I just needed time. I've basically been curled up in a ball with my dad, and he's been managing my mental state daily."

Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone revealed he met with Nkosi on Monday, and said the club would provide their full support to the winger over the coming period.

"We were thrilled to find Sbu and incredibly relieved to see that he was alive," he said in a statement. "Equally, we were saddened to see him in the state that he was in.

"I am however confident that we are in a good position to provide Sbu with the support he needs and that we should acknowledge his incredible courage to even say to us, that he is not okay.

"We are lucky today but tomorrow, our intervention may be too late and that is not something we want to see become a reality."

Gareth Southgate has pushed the England squad ahead of their World Cup quarter-final against France, challenging his side to create history in Qatar.

The Three Lions progressed past Senegal in the first knockout round to clinch a tie against the defending champions, presenting England's biggest test so far at the tournament.

Defeat against Didier Deschamps' side would mark England's earliest exit from a major tournament under Southgate, who led the side to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia and finished as runners-up to Italy at Euro 2020.

While those improvements are significant, England have fallen at a crucial hurdle against tough opponents in each of those tournaments – losing 2-1 to Croatia in 2018 before a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley last year.

Southgate has used that record to issue a challenge to his squad, identifying that winning fixtures away from home against top opposition is something yet to be achieved.

"We've made quite a bit of history over the last four or five years, not all of it good, but that's the great challenge," he said.

"When you go back through the tournaments, you do see the teams that have knocked England out. We haven't been able to do that [win an away knockout against elite opposition] so that's the next test for this team.

"We have a lot of experience of these moments and they know that they've had to win games in different ways; they've had to come from behind in big matches.

"What we talked about against Senegal was keeping the relentless pressure going, not sitting back when we were ahead, making sure that we kept the intensity of our game. We've got to do that now against the world champions."

England's success under Southgate is a far cry from his predecessors, where disappointing exits from tournaments were par from the course, which led Southgate to identify the difficulties faced on the international stage – and highlighted bringing in young players early was crucial.

"There have been lots of moments when to play with England is difficult. It's a different sort of challenge to your club. It's far more scrutiny," he explained.

"So you have to be able to handle that. When we're selecting players, we're looking at their ability to handle that mentally as much as anything else.

"The young lads that have come in are showing that. But you never know until they are in these moments how that's going to be.

"We had a lot of caps on the pitch against Senegal, even the younger ones, because we've blooded them early."

Bukayo Saka revealed his gratitude for the regular support he receives from Arsenal "legends" Thierry Henry and Robert Pires.

The England winger has netted three goals in three games at the 2022 World Cup and is set to line up against France in a mouthwatering quarter-final on Saturday.

Henry and Pires lifted the trophy with Les Bleus 24 years ago, before going on to win two Premier League titles with Arsenal in 2002 and 2004 – forming part of the 'Invincibles' side that went through the entire campaign unbeaten in the latter.

Academy graduate Saka, who has been with the club since the age of seven, is benefitting from their wise words and guidance.

"We have so many French players, like Thierry and Robert Pires, that have been around the club and spoken to me and helped me," he said. "They still both support me to this day, so I'm grateful to them.

"Of course, on the pitch, they were magnificent, and they delivered silverware for Arsenal, so they'll definitely be legends – always."

Henry made contact with Saka following his missed penalty in England's Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy, a gesture that was greatly received by the 21-year-old.

"It showed a lot of character from him to get my number and reach out to me," he added. "After most Arsenal games, he reaches out to me. He's still so passionate about the club; he's an amazing person."

But despite his lengthy association with Arsenal, Saka is yet to speak with another key Frenchman in the Gunners' recent history, legendary former boss Arsene Wenger.

"One of my biggest regrets – things I haven't been able to do – was to meet Arsene Wenger," he revealed. "I know how much everyone at the club loves him, and I know what he did for the club."

Brazil coach Tite believes Neymar is irreplaceable because his technical abilities are what empower the rest of the team.

Neymar was back in the starting XI for Monday's World Cup last-16 win over South Korea at Stadium 974 after injuring ankle ligaments on matchday one.

His participation for the rest of the tournament had been in doubt, but he returned and played a key role in the comfortable 4-1 victory, scoring a penalty that took him to within one goal of Pele's all-time record of 77.

Brazil were irresistible at times in the first half and Neymar was generally at the centre of their most promising attacks, even if he did not necessarily record an assist.

Before Monday, Brazil's performances had been functional if not spectacular, but Neymar's return was important for the fluidity of the rest of the team.

"He's a technical reference. This is technical leadership. When a team looks for the player, they know that they have a weapon there, [someone who can make] the difference," Tite said of the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

"Everyone has their own striking characteristics, but Neymar is the centre, the one who empowers the others."

With his early spot-kick, Neymar became the third Brazil player to score at three editions of the World Cup (2014, 2018 and 2022) after Pele and Ronaldo.

He also created two chances and stepped over the ball before Vinicius Junior coolly opened the scoring in the seventh minute, while only Casemiro and Raphinha – two players who finished the game – managed more than Neymar's 17 passes in the final third, highlighting his involvement in the Selecao's attacks.

Tite's assistant, Cesar Sampaio, believes having Neymar back also provides a mental boost to his team-mates on top of his technical excellence.

"Neymar for sure provides a competitive advantage, he makes a difference on pitch," he said.

"He's a driving force. I'm going round and round, beating around the bush to talk about him, but in a nutshell I'd like to congratulate our physios for their work.

"Neymar, besides his technical skills, he motivates the others and we are very happy to have him back. He had a great performance, he's recovered and ready for new challenges.

"He made important steps, and with him we can reach our full potential."

Brazil's victory set up a quarter-final clash with Croatia on Friday after Zlatko Dalic's men defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw earlier in the day.

Paulo Bento confirmed he will not renew his contract with South Korea after their World Cup exit by defeat to Brazil on Monday.

Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta were all on target as the pre-tournament favourites raced into a four-goal lead inside 36 minutes at Stadium 974.

A long-range Paik Seung-ho strike in the second half proved a mere consolation for South Korea, whose journey in Qatar came to an abrupt end.

Bento, appointed in 2018 as Shin Tae-yong's successor, confirmed the Brazil defeat will be his last with the Taegeuk Warriors, after agreeing to stay in charge until the end of their World Cup campaign.

"From now, we just have to think of the future, and it will not be with the national team for South Korea," he said. "I rest, and then I see what happens after.

"I just announced to the players and president of the confederation this decision I made in September. This was a decision set in stone, and today I confirmed it.

"I have to thank them for everything, they gave their best. I have been proud to be their manager."

South Korea were appearing in their first knockout-stage game in the competition since 2010, though failed to deliver against Tite's host of global stars.

They will still head home with great memories in the Middle East after snatching an unlikely Group H qualification with Hwang Hee-chan's injury-time strike against Portugal edging out Uruguay for second place.

"At this time, it is not easy to give a summary of everything in the World Cup, and especially due to it not ending yet," Bento added.

"I can only tell you about our participation, which ended today, I believe it ended in a fair manner. We have to congratulate Brazil because they are better than us.

"Our strategy was to control the match and not let the game run at a high pace, but because of what we had available in terms of preparation, we weren't able to do that and that made it difficult.

"What we did do in the World Cup was something to make us very proud - as well as all the process to get here for the last four years - I believe what we've done in the group stage was very good. 

"For the third time in the history of [South] Korean football, we got to the round of 16. I believe in the group stage, we could have managed more points because against Ghana, we should've and could've won.

"That would've been well-deserved, but our participation makes us proud and makes me satisfied."

Neymar says all the hard work paid off as he recovered from injury to play a big part in Brazil's sublime 4-1 win over South Korea in Monday's World Cup last-16 tie.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar missed Brazil's final two group games after sustaining an ankle injury late on in the opening 2-0 win over Serbia on November 24.

However, the 30-year-old was deemed fit enough to play 81 minutes of the one-sided contest with South Korea and scored the second of his side's goals at Stadium 974.

Neymar admits he feared the worst when suffering the injury 11 days ago and is glad to now be back on the field playing – and scoring – again.

"I was very scared," he said in his post-match interview. "I was doing well after a positive start to the season, so suffering an injury like the one I had was very hard.

"I spent the night crying a lot. But everything worked out in the end; the effort was worth it. All suffering is valid.

"I'd like to thank god for the strength I've been given to be back on the pitch, to be able to train and do everything I needed to be on the pitch again.

"Thanks also to the physios, my colleagues and those who have encouraged me over the last days. I'm happy to be back on the pitch and playing well."

 

Asked if he felt any pain prior to being replaced by Rodrygo, Neymar said: "No I didn't feel anything. I was very content with my performance, but that said we can always improve.

"I can't be 100 per cent satisfied. I've been given the man of the match award today but it's for everyone. I'm really happy with the performance of the side."

With his early penalty, Neymar became the third Brazil player to score at three editions of the World Cup (2014, 2018 and 2022) alongside Pele and Ronaldo.

Each of the forward's past six Brazil goals have come via the penalty spot and he now has 76 goals for his country – just one short of all-time scorer Pele.

Vinicius Junior had earlier given Brazil the lead, while Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta were also on target inside the opening 36 minutes.

It is just the second time in their World Cup history Brazil have scored four goals in the first half of a match, previously doing so against Mexico in 1954.

Having toiled in wins over Serbia and Switzerland, before losing to Cameroon when heavily rotating, Brazil laid down a marker with their superb showing against South Korea.

The five-time world champions, who have advanced from their past eight last-16 ties, will face Croatia following the 2018 beaten finalists' earlier penalty shoot-out win over Japan.

"We have to plan to go further," Neymar said. "We are dreaming of the title, but we will take it step by step.

"This was our fourth game today and there are three more to go. We are very prepared and focused on getting this title."

Brazil paid tribute to legendary forward Pele following a commanding 4-1 victory over South Korea that sealed their World Cup quarter-final place.

Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta were all on target at Stadium 974 as Tite's side cruised through to the last eight in Qatar, where they will face Croatia on Friday. 

A message posted from his Twitter account earlier in the day revealed Pele would be watching the match from his hospital bed, where he was moved to last Tuesday.

The Selecao responded after the full-time whistle by parading a banner on the pitch with a picture of the three-time World Cup winner. 

Amid unconfirmed reports he had been moved to palliative care after failing to respond to chemotherapy treatment, the hospital housing the 82-year-old described his condition as "stable."

Pele moved to ease fears surrounding his health with a post to his Instagram account on Saturday, saying he remained "strong, with a lot of hope."

Brazil produced the best display of Qatar 2022 so far with an emphatic 4-1 victory over South Korea at Stadium 974 on Monday to set up a quarter-final tie with Croatia.

The Selecao were four goals up inside 36 minutes – only the second time in their World Cup history they have scored four times in the first half of a match – in a one-sided tie.

Neymar returned to Brazil's line-up – back to full strength after their 1-0 loss to Cameroon – and he netted from the penalty spot after Vinicius Junior had opened the scoring.

Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta put the game well out of reach and there was no way back for South Korea, though they did have a moment so savour courtesy of Paik Seung-ho's goal in the second half.

Raphinha pulled the ball back for Vinicius to curl into the top-right corner after seven minutes and Brazil had a quickfire second goal when Neymar converted from the penalty spot.

Richarlison won that penalty after being caught by Jung Woo-young, and he was himself among the goals when finishing after Thiago Silva picked him out with a first-time pass.

Brazil were completely out of sight by the interval as Paqueta rounded off another fine attack that culminated in Vinicius clipping the ball into his path to volley home.

A double change at the interval led to an improved display from South Korea, who after forcing Alisson into a few saves scored through a long-range Paik strike that took a deflection.

What does it mean? Samba stars put on a show

Brazil toiled for large parts of their wins over Serbia and Switzerland prior to suffering a shock defeat to Cameroon, but back at full strength here they laid down a real marker.

South Korea's first knockout-stage game in this competition since 2010 could not have gone much worse, with Tite's men out of sight well before half-time.

Five-time winners Brazil have advanced from their past eight World Cup last-16 ties and will now face 2018 beaten finalists Croatia, who earlier defeated Japan on penalties.

Brazil find their scoring touch

Brazil scored a rather underwhelming three goals from 57 shots in the group stage, compared to three goals from their first five efforts against South Korea.

The Selecao were a lot more clinical than they were in the first round, though their opponents' set-up also played right into their hands – a mistake Croatia will surely not make.

Returning Neymar back among the goals

Neymar was back in the side after missing the past two games through injury and he registered his 76th goal for Brazil, placing him one short of Pele's all-time record.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar, whose past six goals for the Selecao have come from the penalty spot, will look to match and surpass the Brazil great in Qatar.

What's next?

Brazil have that quarter-final tie with Croatia to look forward to in Al Rayyan on Friday, while South Korea's campaign in Qatar is now over.

Harry Kane saluted Jordan Henderson's leadership qualities following his goal in England's 3-0 victory over Senegal.

The Three Lions vice-captain opened the scoring with a neat first-time finish from Jude Bellingham's square pass while Kane doubled the lead, before Bukayo Saka's second-half strike secured the Three Lions' World Cup quarter-final place in Qatar.

Aged 32 years and 170 days, Henderson became England's second-oldest scorer at the finals, after Tom Finney against USSR in 1958 (36 years, 64 days).

Gareth Southgate's side have looked a more cohesive unit since the Liverpool skipper was introduced into the starting line-up for their final Group B match against Wales, and Kane highlighted his impact on the team.

"He's one of the best leaders that I've played with," the Three Lions captain told England's official YouTube channel. "He's really vocal, he pushes players to the absolute max.

"That's why he's been great in the games he's played. [He's} outstanding with the ball, outstanding without the ball, pushing everyone. The way we've been pressing – it's good to hear him behind me pushing.

"You need different types of leaders amongst your team. I think we have four or five different types of personalities.

"Hendo's someone who – it doesn't matter who you are, what you've done – he'll keep pushing you.

"It was an amazing performance [against Senegal] by him, [it was] great to see him score. A lot of the other good stuff was down to his role in the team."

Henderson has 73 caps to his name, but Sunday's goal was only his third on the international stage.

Reece James has returned to training with Chelsea after being omitted from England's World Cup squad due to injury.

The full-back was left out of Gareth Southgate's 26-man travelling squad to Qatar, where England face France in the quarter-finals on Saturday, after being sidelined since October 11 with a knee issue.

Southgate referenced "too many unknowns" over the Chelsea defender's recovery for leaving out James, who sustained the injury in a Champions League clash with Milan.

James spoke openly of his disappointment to miss out on FIFA's top tournament as he acknowledged "there was risk on both sides but it was one I was willing to take".

The 22-year-old returned to training on Monday for Chelsea's first session in Abu Dhabi at their warm-weather training camp as Graham Potter's side seek improvements after the World Cup break.

Chelsea lost their last three Premier League games before the mid-season interval to leave Potter's men eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with a game in hand.

A downturn in form coincided with losing numerous key players to injury, with Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell and Kepa Arrizabalaga joining James as absentees.

Fofana and Chilwell, the latter who also missed out on the World Cup with England due to injury, will hope to be fit for Chelsea's Premier League return at home to Bournemouth on December 27.

Chelsea next face Aston Villa in a mid-season friendly in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

France's appeal against the decision to disallow Antoine Griezmann's goal in last week's shock 1-0 World Cup loss to Tunisia has been dismissed by FIFA.

Griezmann thought he had cancelled out Wahbi Khazri's strike when he volleyed home in the eighth minute of stoppage time at Education City Stadium.

However, after the celebrations had died down and the whistle had sounded for full-time, referee Michael Conger ruled out Griezmann's goal for an offside infringement.

The Atletico Madrid forward was adjudged to have been offside when firing in from Aurelien Tchouameni's pass, which was helped into his path by a Tunisia defender.

But the French Football Federation (FFF) felt the officials were wrong to disallow the goal as play had briefly restarted when VAR intervened, which is prohibited.

"We are writing a complaint after Antoine Griezmann's goal was, in our opinion, wrongly disallowed," the FFF said last Wednesday. 

Should France have been successful with their appeal, the scoreline would have been changed to 1-1, though the final positions in Group D would not have altered.

However, FIFA confirmed in a statement on Monday that they will not look any further into the matter.

"The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has dismissed the protest submitted by the French Football Association in relation to the Tunisia v France match," the statement read.

Khazri's superb strike ended reigning world champions France's nine-game unbeaten run in the competition stretching back to the 2014 quarter-finals.

Les Blues went on to beat Poland 3-1 in Sunday's last-16 tie and will now face England in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Pele will watch Brazil's World Cup last-16 tie against South Korea from hospital, according to a message posted to his social media accounts.

The three-time World Cup winner was hospitalised last Tuesday, though his daughter subsequently said there was "no surprise or emergency" pertaining to his condition.

Amid unconfirmed reports Pele had been moved to palliative care after failing to respond to chemotherapy treatment, the hospital housing the 82-year-old described his condition as "stable".

Pele moved to ease fears surrounding his health with a post to his Instagram account on Saturday, saying he remained "strong, with a lot of hope".

A message posted from the legendary forward's Twitter account has now revealed he will be watching on when Tite's side face South Korea at Stadium 974 on Monday. 

"In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father," the message began.

"I know that today many have made similar promises and are also going in search of their first World Cup.

"I will be watching the game from the hospital and I will be rooting hard for each one of you. Good luck!"

Pele inspired Brazil to their first World Cup triumph in 1958, becoming the youngest player to score in the tournament's final at the age of just 17 years and 249 days.

The Selecao great also shone as Brazil won two of the next three editions of the World Cup, with his total of six assists at Mexico 1970 remaining a single-tournament record.

 

Neymar was named in Brazil's starting XI for Monday's World Cup last-16 clash with South Korea after recovering from an ankle injury.

Brazil's talisman was hurt in their victory over Serbia on matchday one and sat out the Selecao's subsequent two group games.

There remained significant doubt regarding the timeline of his return, with Brazil coach Tite saying in Sunday's pre-match press conference it was still uncertain if Neymar would feature against the Taeguk Warriors.

But he was included in the starting XI at Stadium 974 as Brazil looked to plot their way into the last eight of the tournament in a fierce attack alongside Raphinha, Vinicius Jr, Raphinha and Richarlison.

Neymar heads into the game just two goals adrift of Pele (77) in the all-time list for most Brazil goals.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward's efforts to usurp his fellow Santos great has taken on even greater significance in the past week following reports of Pele's worsening health.

Claims in Brazilian media last week suggested Pele was now under palliative care in hospital after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment, although a statement from the 82-year-old on Sunday said he was "strong" and had "a lot of hope".

Having shuffled their pack for the surprise defeat against Cameroon, Tite has named a more familiar XI against South Korea with a total of 10 changes from that loss - Eder Militao being the only player to retain his spot.

 

Ruben Dias pleaded with the Portuguese media to promote unity rather than trying to create a divide following criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fernando Santos' Portugal side will face Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday after winning Group H despite a shock defeat to South Korea on matchday three.

Ronaldo endured a particularly difficult day against the Taeguk Warriors.

He failed to hit the target with either of his two shots and was caught offside three times, with a couple of those situations raising questions of his concentration.

The 37-year-old was withdrawn in the second half and simultaneously had a disagreement with South Korea forward Cho Gue-sung.

Since then, a poll on the website of Portuguese newspaper A Bola suggests 70 per cent of supporters want Ronaldo to be dropped, and defender Dias had a defiant response.

"I actually think you shouldn't ask Ruben Dias that, but you should ask that to Cristiano Ronaldo," the defender told reporters.

"I'd like to take this moment to say, in this tournament the press is supporting us and Ronaldo, so I'd like to make an appeal to the press; as we progress, instead of creating a divide, create unity, then who knows maybe we'll have good strength and positive energy for all involved."

If Ronaldo was to be dropped, Rafael Leao would be among the favourites to step in.

The Milan forward came on as a substitute in all three of Portugal's group games, but Santos appears to think he still requires some adaptation work.

"He has a huge potential, and I think he will have a promising career," Santos added.

"But of course he faces the difficulties of any player who has a place in a club like his, where he plays more on the left and playing for the club he has more freedom.

"But at national team level, he needs to adapt to the others, to players who excel for their clubs but have a different [role] at the national team."

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