The key statistics from the World Cup group stage

The Key Statistics From The World Cup Group Stage
Marcus Rashford, second right, and England celebrate their first goal against Wales, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Tom White, PA Sport Data Journalist

The 16 qualifiers are now decided after a dramatic World Cup group stage.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at the key statistics from the opening round.


Slow starts, late drama

Ramin Rezaeian, centre scores Iran’s second goal against Wales
Iran scored in the 98th and 103rd minutes to beat Wales (Adam Davy/PA)

Exactly half of the group games were goalless at half-time, a record for a 32-team World Cup, with only 36 per cent of goals (43 out of 120) coming in the first half.

Only seven of those were scored in the first 10 minutes of games, the earliest being Alphonso Davies’ second-minute header in Canada’s eventual 4-1 defeat to Croatia.


There were five goals scored in at least the fifth minute of injury time at the end of a game, three of them by Iran including 98th- and 103rd-minute strikes to beat 10-man Wales.

A host of other late goals swung the results of matches – most notably in Group E where Germany scored an 83rd-minute equaliser against Spain and in the 85th and 89th minutes to beat Costa Rica but also conceded an 83rd-minute winner to Japan. Costa Rica also beat Japan with an 81st-minute strike.

Wales, France, Brazil and Cameroon also scored winners after the 80th minute while even Saudi Arabia’s 95th-minute consolation against Mexico rubber-stamped Poland’s qualification without the need to count disciplinary points.

Group A

Cody Gakpo celebrates his goal against Qatar
Cody Gakpo scored first in every Netherlands game (Ariel Schalit/AP)

Cody Gakpo scored the first goal in all three of the Netherlands’ group games. They had the third-fewest shots (24) but the third-highest conversion rate (21 per cent) of any qualifying team.

Qatar scored only once as they became the first individual host nation to lose three games in a World Cup.

Group B

England matched Spain for the most goals in the group stage, nine, and the best conversion rate of any qualifier at 24 per cent. The second-placed United States, by contrast, scored just two goals from 28 shots.


Iran had 21 attempts on goal in their win over Wales, who managed only 24 across their three games with their only goal being Gareth Bale’s penalty against the States.

Group C

Wojciech Szczesny, left, saves Lionel Messi's penalty
Wojciech Szczesny made a pair of penalty saves (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Poland qualified with only 20 total shots and a goal difference of zero, needing two penalty saves from Wojciech Szczesny to help them on their way.


Mexico’s elimination ended their run of seven straight tournaments finishing at the last 16.

Group D

France’s 52 shots matched Brazil as the highest among qualifiers, trailing only Germany’s extraordinary 67 in the group stage as a whole.

However, Australia took only 20 and qualified with a negative goal difference in jointly the lowest-scoring group, with only 11 goals across the six games.

Group E

Jamal Musiala shoots against Japan
Jamal Musiala shone despite Germany’s early exit (Mike Egerton/PA)

The highest-scoring group with 22 goals, nine from Spain as Alvaro Morata joined Gakpo in scoring in all three games.

Germany had 32 shots against Costa Rica alone – half of the qualifying teams failed to reach that total across their three games. Jamal Musiala led all players with nine take-ons, 22 successful ball progressions and 103 balls received between the midfield and defensive lines while his 12 shots trailed only Kylian Mbappe (15) and Lionel Messi (13).

Costa Rica’s 27 per cent conversion rate is the tournament’s highest but they took only 11 total shots, and none at all in their 7-0 loss to Spain.

Group F

Belgium were eliminated with one goal from 34 shots, contributing to the other group to feature only 11 goals.

Canada joined only Qatar in finishing without a point.

Group G

Brazil did not face a shot on target until first-half stoppage time in their final game against Cameroon.

Goalscorer Vincent Aboubakar’s red card in that game was one of only two in the group stage, following Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey against Iran.

The group’s top-scoring team, Serbia with five goals, finished bottom.

Group H

Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates his goal against Ghana
Cristiano Ronaldo made history (Martin Rickett/PA)
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