Russian Spy: Rossies edged by Galway but get the better of Germany

Germany weren’t just shocked by Mexico on Sunday, they were just pipped by Galway too. And Roscommon.

Of the two 4pm games that went head to head on RTÉ, the World Cup Group F clash picked up an average audience of 300,300, with the Connacht final attracting 309,500.

The Munster clash of Clare v Limerick was watched by an average of 324,400 but Sunday’s big draw was Brazil v Switzerland, averaging 477,000 viewers.

Queiroz dedicates Fergie time winner to old boss

Iran’s dramatic late winner against Morocco on Friday had an extra special resonance for coach Carlos Queiroz, coming as it did in his old mentor’s favourite part of the match.

“That was like Fergie Time and it was for Sir Alex,” said the ex-Man Utd assistant manager, paying tribute to his one-time boss Alex Ferguson, who is recovering from surgery after a brain haemorrhage in May.

Queiroz added: “I have not been able to see him since he was taken ill, but as soon as he is strong enough, and I get the chance, I will go to see him and give him a hug. He is a great man, and a great friend.”

Nothing without Zlatan

Sweden began their World Cup with a win despite being without Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2000. And despite assuring fans that a World Cup without Zlatan isn’t a World Cup at all, the unassuming star is making his presence felt in Russia as part of a lucrative sponsorship contract, entertaining thousands at Moscow’s huge fan-fest site. The one to watch, Ibra? “My advice is to watch every match because you never know what is going to happen. But now you have seen Zlatan, you can say you have seen everything.”

’Niall’ Ronaldo statue gets subbed

The infamous bust of Cristiano Ronaldo — though some argued it looked more like Niall Quinn — at Madeira Airport has been replaced.

The sculpture of the Portugal star gained worldwide notoriety when it was erected last year.

Madeiran artist Emanuel Santos spent three weeks on the project, with the bust unveiled when the airport was renamed in Ronaldo’s honour in March 2017.

But an airport spokeswoman confirmed the bust was switched for a better likeness on the day Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for Portugal in the 3-3 draw against Spain. Santos said: “This is a matter of taste, so it is not as simple as it seems. What matters is the impact that this work generated.”

And the new statue isn’t to everyone’s taste either. A petition has already launched online to have Quinny returned.

Keane benches Bilic and Dixon

The vibe between Roy Keane and Slaven Bilic has been the surprise attraction of the ITV coverage so far. Viewers have been swift in pointing out on social media Keane’s evident discomfort with Bilic’s tactile approach in studio, with every touch of the Keano shoulder greeted with an icy glare. And Roy had his own prod after Bilic’s Croatia beat Nigeria, when discussing the practice of naming your starting line-up late. “It never bothered me. What helped me, I probably always knew I was going to be starting. The lads might give you a better answer.”

Lee Dixon took that one in good part, though there was no smile from the Croat.

Bilic did get Keane laughing during a debate on the legality of Steven Zuba’s goal against Brazil. Pushed for a verdict on the slight push on Miranda before the header, an exasperated Bilic eventually sighed “To be fair, I don’t care,” cracking everyone up.

Hair apparent

Former Man Utd great Eric Cantona has joined the legions of football fans mocking Neymar’s new haircut.

The Brazil superstar has puzzled people with the dyed blond “spaghetti” hairstyle he revealed during his team’s opening game at the World Cup on Sunday.

The PSG forward was ridiculed on social media with Cantona joining in. He posted on Instagram a picture of himself with pasta poured over his head holding a portrait of Neymar.

“Neymar style... spaghetti al dente!” Cantona wrote.

Bridge of lies

World Cup fans in St Petersburg have an unlikely barrier to partying all night if their team wins. As Iranian fans have found to their cost — and those of Egypt or Russia may discover tonight, the city has a unique system of canals and bridges that connect the main islands. And while it means a short journey from city centre to the St Petersburg Stadium by day, at night it is another matter. The bridges are raised in a synchronised fashion shortly after midnight to let large ships pass through.

And they stay raised — and impassible to pedestrian traffic until the next morning. It means that any revellers get stranded in town or face a long and expensive taxi journey home — as one Examiner correspondent found to his cost Sunday night! Legitimately-incurred taxi receipt awaited with
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