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Today at the World Cup: Quarter-final action gets under way in Qatar

Brazil will face Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals (Martin Rickett/PA)
Brazil will face Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals (Martin Rickett/PA)

The action gets back under way at the World Cup in Qatar with Brazil facing Croatia and Argentina taking on Netherlands in the first two quarter-finals.

England, meanwhile, are continuing their preparations for Saturday’s last-eight showdown with France, and were boosted by Declan Rice returning to training and the news that Raheem Sterling will rejoin the squad.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo was still in the headlines amid reports he had threatened to walk out on Portugal’s World Cup campaign.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Thursday unfolded at the World Cup.

Double boost for England

Alarm bells were ringing when Rice missed training on Wednesday, with his absence put down to illness.

The West Ham captain has started all four matches so far and, if fit, will be one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s team sheet against France in Saturday’s quarter-final.

So there was widespread relief at the news the midfielder was back on the pitch at England’s Al Wakrah training base.

Winger Sterling did not feature in Sunday’s last-16 win against Senegal having returned to England following an incident at his family home in Surrey.

But the FA has confirmed the Chelsea player, who turned 28 on Thursday, is rejoining the squad.

Another Ronaldo rumpus

Portugal v Switzerland – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Round of 16 – Lusail Stadium
Ronaldo started on the bench against Switzerland (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) has quashed reports Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to walk out on Portugal’s World Cup campaign.

The 37-year-old was left on the bench for his country’s 6-1 last-16 win over Switzerland by boss Fernando Santos, having reacted poorly to being substituted in the final group game against South Korea.

But the FPF quickly shut down the speculation.

A statement read: “News released this Thursday reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with Fernando Santos, national coach.

“The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the internship in Qatar.”

Luis’ Spain pain

Morocco v Spain – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Round of 16 – Education City Stadium
Luis Enrique guided Spain to the last 16 (Adam Davy/PA)

Luis Enrique paid the price for Spain’s poor World Cup with his job as manager.

Enrique is to leave his post as Spain manager and be replaced by Under-21s boss Luis De La Fuente, the country’s football federation announced.

The change comes after Spain’s disappointing last-16 exit on penalties to Morocco on Tuesday.

Enrique’s contract had been due to expire at the end of the year and the RFEF issued a statement on Thursday indicating it would not be renewed.

That was then followed by a further statement confirming that De La Fuente had been nominated as his successor and will take up the position from Monday after his appointment is formally ratified.

Depay’s Dennis dream

Memphis Depay wants to score another memorable Dutch goal against Argentina.

Their quarter-final on Friday will evoke memories of Dennis Bergkamp’s stunning winner against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

Netherlands striker Depay said: “It was an amazing moment for the country, and what a goal.

“This game will be decided by moments. We believe we can catch a moment and go through.”

Samba stars won’t stop

Brazil v South Korea – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Round of 16 – Stadium 974
Brazil’s dancing has raised eyebrows (Mike Egerton/PA)

Brazil coach Tite has vowed to ‘keep dancing’ after Roy Keane called their Samba celebrations as more like “Strictly”.

Tite joined in a dance on the touchline with several of his players as Brazil raced into a 4-0 half-time lead against South Korea in Monday’s last-16 tie.

The celebrations were widely condemned, including by ITV pundit Keane, but Tite insisted it is a part of Brazilian culture.

He said: “Who knows how many more kids will dance? Because that is what is in the culture when a goal is scored.

“It is not being disrespectful to anyone else, that is how we do things, that is us. This may also help the education of young kids back in school and we will continue doing things in our manner.”

Brazil take on Croatia in Friday’s first quarter-final.

Picture of the day

Netherlands Conference – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Main Media Centre – Thursday 8th December
Memphis Depay saw the funny side at his press conference (Peter Byrne/PA)

Tweet of the day

Rashford met his childhood hero.

Up next

Friday, December 9
Croatia v Brazil (1500GMT, BBC1)
Netherlands v Argentina (1900GMT, BBC1)