Confederations Cup Diary: Drax on the beach, and did FIFA just troll Akinfeev?
Day nine of the Confederations Cup was a special one for Tim Cahill, who made Australia history in their 1-1 draw with Chile in Moscow.
Julian Draxler celebrated the prospect of staying by the Black Sea for at least another four days, while FIFA offered their scouting services to Russia in pursuit of an Igor Akinfeev successor.
There was also a hugely impressive spot of dancing that made Omnisport feel not a little flat-footed.
FIFA LENDS A HAND IN RUSSIA'S SEARCH FOR AKINFEEV REPLACEMENT
Russia exited the Confederations Cup on Saturday after a 2-1 defeat to Mexico, in which goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev endured one of the more miserable of his 101 international appearances.
The CSKA Moscow man was culpable for both El Tri goals and his performance led to questions to head coach Stanislav Cherchesov after the match about whether it is time for a new man in between the posts.
FIFA appear to have done some early groundwork for next year's World Cup hosts on that front. They posted a video hours after the match showing great skill from a young Russian fan in the crowd for the game between Portugal and New Zealand, who safely claims a wayward ball flying up into the stands.
Posing the question 'The new Akinfeev?' did seem a little unkind, though. This young man caught the thing, after all.
The new Akinfeev?
The new... Lev Yashin Rinat Dasaev Igor Akinfeev This young fan showed great handling skills during the clash between All Whites and Seleções de Portugal at the FIFA Confederations Cup Remember where you saw him first… --- --- --- Watch the #ConfedCup! Find out who is showing the #ConfedCup in your territory: fifa-broadcasters.appspot.com?tag=MEXvRUSPosted by FIFA Confederations Cup on Saturday, 24 June 2017
LIFE'S A BEACH FOR GERMANY SKIPPER DRAXLER
Julian Draxler turned in another stylish display as Germany saw off 10-man Cameroon in Sochi, a brilliant backheel setting up Kerem Demirbay's spectacular opener.
The 3-1 win means Joachim Low's men will be back at Fisht Stadium for Thursday's semi-final against Mexico but there was more than professional pride and the fear of facing Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal that made Paris Saint-Germain winger Draxler keen to seal top spot in Group B.
"I prefer Sochi because there's the beach here and it's like a vacation a little bit," he told reporters after the match, unfortunately without an inflated lilo tucked under his arm.
"I'm happy we can play here and spend more time here."
FAB SEVEN LIFT SPIRITS
The hosts might have bowed out of their own part early but a day on from Russia's defeat to Mexico in Kazan, some musical veterans were doing what they could to keep spirits high in the Sochi sunshine.
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" might be as good a way as any to describe Igor Akinfeev's interpretation of the goalkeeping position for Stanislav Cherchesov's men but that was probably not the motivation for a brass band outside Fisht Stadium cranking out the Beatles' 1968 hit.
With or without Russia, life goes on at Confederations Cup 2017.
CAHILL'S CLASSY MESSAGE AFTER EARNING A SLICE OF SOCCEROOS HISTORY
Australia produced their best performance of the tournament to claim a 1-1 draw against Chile on Sunday in their final Group B game in Moscow.
James Troisi's goal put the Socceroos ahead but Martin Rodriguez's equaliser meant that Ange Postecoglu's side will be heading home.
There was, however, a moment for the nation to celebrate. Tim Cahill started the match to earn his 100th senior cap, becoming the first outfield player to do so for Australia and only the second of all time after goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
The 37-year-old showed typical class in a post-match tweet, writing: "I'll always give everything for my country. So proud of everyone," alongside pictures from one of his most memorable days on the international stage.
I'll always give everything for my country— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) June 25, 2017
So proud of everyone. pic.twitter.com/gPs2L3hO3m
QUICKSTEP ON THE STREETS OF MOSCOW
Largely due to its Communist past, Russia has a reputation for being a dour, conservative country. A walk through Gorky Park on a summer's evening would indicate otherwise.
If you're not mown down by the never-ending number of cyclists, roller-bladers or skateboarders, it's a wonderfully uplifting place to be.
Young and old stroll round taking in the numerous activities which include gymnastics, beach volleyball, five-a-side football as well as watching live bands and street performers.
There is also the opportunity to indulge in some dancing, and not the kind of dancing this diary is used to. Oh no, not the usual feet-shuffling-while-looking-embarrassed-and-awkward stuff, these twentysomethings know their jive from their salsa and were happy to perform on the banks of the Moskva River.
This is nothing like the dancing I (used to) do on a Saturday night! But here in Moscow... pic.twitter.com/uvOY19P2ey— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) June 25, 2017