Belgium's head coach Roberto Martinez walks with the ball during Belgium's official training ahead of the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The Latest: Coach Martinez happy to be boring Belgium

June 22, 2018 - 9:31 am

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Friday at the World Cup (all times local):

4:27 p.m.

Being boring is working well for Belgium coach Roberto Martinez.

Asked why this squad seemed much calmer than at previous tournaments, Martinez says they're avoiding making headlines for off-field issues.

Martinez says: "We do want to be boring. We're a football team, we're not here to fulfill stories or fill pages."

Belgium made a no-fuss start at its World Cup, beating overmatched Panama 3-0 and now plays Tunisia on Saturday in Moscow. England is also in Group G.

Martinez cut out one potential problem by not picking Radja Nainggolan. The Spanish coach had a difficult relationship with the Roma midfielder.


4:15 p.m.

A Russian soccer fan who has groped a journalist during a live broadcast in Moscow has offered her an apology .

The man groped DW reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran and kissed her on the cheek as she was reporting on the World Cup last week, drawing international attention.

The German outlet said Friday the man who identified himself by his first name, Ruslan, has visited its office to offer his "most profound apologies." It posted a video of his Skype conversation with Theran, in which he said he made a bet with a friend that he would kiss a reporter on air.

He said "I acted carelessly" and was sorry for "an unsuccessful joke with a kiss on the cheek turned into sexual harassment."

Theran accepted his apologies during their conversation.


3:55 p.m.

Sweden has arrived in Sochi short-handed for Saturday's match against Germany at the World Cup.

Three players remained in Gelendzhik after becoming ill. Swedish coach Janne Andersson says the expectation is defenders Pontus Jansson and Filip Helander, and midfielder Marcus Rohden will fly to Sochi on Saturday and join the team. Andersson did not indicate whether any of the three will be included in the final 18-man squad.

Jannson started in central defense for the Swedes in the opening victory over South Korea. Helander and Rohden were not used.

Sweden forward Isaac Kiese Thelin suffered an ankle injury in practice and was not training Friday. Thelin came on as a sub late in the second half of the opener.


3:48 p.m.

Brazil and Costa Rica were locked at 0-0 at halftime in their second group game at the World Cup.

The Brazilians were having problems breaking down Costa Rica's packed defense, with Neymar also getting frustrated at some strong tackling — he was fouled three times in a five-minute span. Neymar was fouled 10 times in Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus had a goal disallowed for offside, while Costa Rica's best chance saw Celso Borges drag a shot wide following a cut-back.

The half ended with Neymar, surrounded by his teammates, remonstrating with referee Bjorn Kuipers.

Costa Rica, a World Cup quarterfinalist in 2014, lost 1-0 to Serbia in its opening game.


3:43 p.m.

Croatia's players have stoked ethnic tensions by celebrating their 3-0 victory against Argentina by singing a nationalist song that glorifies the Balkan country's wartime struggle against the Serbs.

A brief clip shows defender Dejan Lovren singing the song with other players in the dressing room after Thursday's match. The song by a popular Croatian singer known as Thompson starts with a chant that was used by Croatia's pro-Nazis during World War II. It also mentions chasing Serb "bandits" will be chased out of Croatia — a reference to the war between the two former Yugoslav republics in the 1990s.

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic says Friday he doesn't understand why the Croatian players would celebrate in such a way.

He says, "If I was in their place, I would be happy with the victory. For some people, their hatred for their neighbors is more important."

Croatia and Serbia could meet in later rounds at the World Cup.


2:40 p.m.

Brazil star Neymar caused a stir with his "spaghetti" hairstyle for his opening match at the World Cup.

Five days later, it appears to have gone.

Warming up for the game against Costa Rica in St. Petersburg, the Brazil forward had a more routine haircut with his fringe swept back and those long, curly pasta-style locks nowhere to be seen.

What will he come up with for Serbia on Tuesday?


1:30 p.m.

This World Cup is right on pace to be the lowest scoring ever despite no goalless games so far.

Just 51 goals have been scored in 23 games going into Friday's play, at a rate of 2.217 per game.

The rate was 2.212 at the 1990 World Cup in Italy — a tournament seen as a low point for exciting games.

In 1990, the 24-nation format rewarded cautious play in the group stage by sending some third-place teams into the Round of 16.

The most prolific World Cup in terms of scoring was 5.38 per game in 1954 hosted by Switzerland.

In the 32-team tournament era, the record goals tally was 171 — a rate of 2.67 per game — in 1998 in France and four years ago in Brazil.

The all-time average goals per game since 1930 was 2.85 before the tournament kicked off play in Russia.


1:20 p.m.

PSV Eindhoven says coach Phillip Cocu is moving to Fenerbahce and will be replaced by Australia's assistant coach Mark van Bommel.

The Dutch club announced Cocu's departure Friday and said Van Bommel, who is Bert van Marwijk's assistant at the World Cup, has a three-year contract to replace him.

Van Bommel, a tough tackling midfielder, played at PSV for six seasons before moving overseas to play at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan.

Before the World Cup, the 41-year-old Van Bommel had been coaching PSV's youth players as the club groomed him to succeed Cocu. PSV General Manager Toon Gerbrands says, "He's ready."

PSV says Van Bommel will return to Eindhoven after Australia's last match in Russia.

Cocu led PSV to three Eredivisie titles in his five years in Eindhoven.

Australia is third in World Cup Group C, after losing 2-1 to France and a 1-1 draw with Denmark


12:30 p.m.

Egypt is set to lodge a complaint to FIFA about what its federation chairman describes as the "injustice" of the match officials during the team's World Cup loss to Russia.

Egyptian Football Association chairman Hany Abo Rida says the match officials "did not achieve justice" in the game.

Egypt's 3-1 loss to Russia, combined with Saudi Arabia's loss to Uruguay, ended its changes of progressing beyond the group stage at its first World Cup in 28 years. Egypt and Saudi Arabia meet Monday in Volgograd in their last Group A match.

Abo Rida, speaking from the Egyptian squad's World Cup base in Grozny, Chechnya, did not specify which incident would form the basis of the complaint.

The Egyptians contend that defender Ahmed Fathi was pushed before the ball deflected off him for an own goal that gave the Russians a 1-0 lead. The players also thought forward Mohsen Marwan should have been awarded a penalty when he was brought down inside the box. Both incidents took place in the second half.

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