Friday, 29 June 2018

Fisht Stadium, Sochi

Belgium 3-0 Panama
(2018 World Cup Group G)

18th June 2018

World Cup finals debutants Panama just about held their own against group favourites Belgium for the first-half here at Sochi.  

They rode their luck a touch during that opening period; having been grateful to see Romelu Lukaku blaze over after just three minutes, before witnessing Eden Hazard hit the side netting on 18 minutes when scoring looked easier.  The Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo did make a few decent stops, but the Belgians' tendancy to want to walk the ball into the net at times, hardly helped their cause.

But once Belgium opened the scoring just two minutes after the break with a neatly improvised shot by Dries MERTENS, the Central Americans never really looked like taking anything from the match.  Their best effort was a drive from Michael Murillo, which Thibaut Courtois had to look lively to stop.

LUKAKU finally woke up (which is more than could be said for the dreadfully disappointing Kevin De Bruyne, who never did), and scored a brace in the 69th and 75th minutes to finally crush the Panamanian resistance.

The Fisht Stadium (named for a nearby mountain) is an odd looking affair, it resembling slightly one of those massive Atacama Desert telescopes.  One almost expects the two halves of the roof to slide open and closed, and the whole structure to rotate as it follows the path of Rho Centauri or whatever.  

At each end were constructed, solely for the World cup one assumes, banks of temporary seating held up by a messy tangle of scaffolding.

But for all that, I think The Fisht Stadium was my favourite of the three I visited during my Russian adventure.

The Fisht Stadium was used to house the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics,
and forms part of a larger complex called, not surprisingly, Sochi Olympic Park. 

Also within the Sochi Olympic Park is the Sochi Autodrom which hosts the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.
I am not quite sure why there should be so many tyre marks on this curve,

Freaky-looking stuff for lunch by the Black Sea.

Panorama of Fisht Stadium, Sochi.

This Panama fan in red did his best with his cowbell to encourage his team, but to no avail. 

LtoR: Thoma Meunier, Kevin de Bruyne, Dedryck Boyata, Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard.

I am slightly ashamed to say without recourse to squad numbers,
I would just be guessing at the names of these Panama players.

I noticed this chap clambering up the roofing.  What puzzled me a touch was that he had a red top on.
A fan looking for the ultimate view, or just a stadium techie wearing red?

Panama get their (and my) first ever World Cup Finals match underway.

There were temporary seating areas erected at both open ends.

 Axel Witsel - Belgium

Dedryck Boyata and Blas PĂ©rez (7)

The Invisible Man.

Belgium v Panama - 2018 World Cup

I was surprised to note the Panama fans far outnumbered their counterparts.

Romelu Lukaku heads in Belgium's second goal.

Panorama of Fisht Stadiu, Sochi.

This odd-looking structure was the Olympic Flame cauldron

Sochi Olympic Flame cauldron and Fisht Stadium.

Sorta reminded me a bit of Concorde from this angle.

Fisht Stadium

Fisht Stadium

Panorama of the Sochi Olympic Park.

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