World Cup: Argentina, Australia advance to last 16

Poland's No. 09 striker Robert Lewandowski (right) and Argentina's No. 10 striker Lionel Messi compete for the ball during the 2022 World Cup Group C soccer match between Poland and Argentina at the 974 Stadium in Doha on November 30 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK/AFP)

Poland’s No. 09 striker Robert Lewandowski (right) and Argentina’s No. 10 forward Lionel Messi compete for the ball during the 2022 World Cup Group C soccer match between Poland and Argentina at the 974 Stadium in Doha on May 30. November 2022. (AFP)

Doha, Qatar – Lionel Messi’s Argentina booked their place in the final round of 16 of the World Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Poland as Australia reached the knockout stages for the second time in their history.

Former two-time champions Argentina stepped forward after goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez sealed victory over Poland in Group C while Australia sent their regrets to Denmark with a 1-0 win in Group D.

Argentina – who suffered a crushing defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match – ensured that they qualified for the second round as group winners in a game where captain Messi missed his second penalty. 31 in his career.

“We went on the pitch thinking we had to win,” Messi said, adding that missing the penalty had excited his teammates.

“I was angry because I missed that penalty but the team was stronger after my mistake,” he said. “We knew that once the first goal was scored, it changed the game.”

Messi said Argentina, which will meet Australia in the next round, cannot underestimate its place in the quarterfinals.

“The game against Australia is going to be tough – anyone can beat anyone,” he added. “It is very even. We have to prepare for the game in the best way, as always.”

The final round of Group C was played with all four teams — Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia — in the hunt for the round of 16.

Despite losing to Argentina, Poland still took second place, surpassing Mexico – who won 2-1 against Saudi Arabia – on goal difference.

During the long stretch of a tense evening, it looked like Poland with fewer yellow cards would secure their spot in the round of 16.

But Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari’s fifth-minute injury-time goal against Mexico gave Poland a slim one-goal advantage on goal difference — and a place in the second round.

Saudi Arabia’s defeat marked a disappointing exit for Asia’s small teams, who impressed in the opening days of the tournament with a shock opening win over Argentina.

Poland will meet the top team of Group D France in the final match of the round of 16.

‘A lot of faith’

Australia reached the knockout stages for the first time since the 2006 World Cup thanks to Mathew Leckie’s superb 60th-minute goal against Denmark.

The French second-tier team – almost certain to be at the top of the table – suffered a 0-1 defeat to Tunisia.

Australia coach Graham Arnold said he was “very proud of the boys’ effort”.

“It was a short turnaround but their effort was amazing. A lot of faith, a lot of hard work,” he added.

“These boys come with a great mindset. We’ve been doing this for four, four and a half years with faith, energy and focus. I can see in their eyes that they are ready tonight.”

After two full wins, France was guaranteed a place in the knockout round from the beginning, so coach Didier Deschamps made 9 changes in the starting lineup to play Tunisia, so that stars including Kylian Mbappe attended. bag.

Tunisia stunned the holders when captain Wahbi Khazri stretched across to concede French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in the 58th minute at the Education City Stadium.

Deschamps responded by bringing in five players as a substitute, including Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

Tunisia stood firm but Griezmann finally got the ball into the net in the eighth minute of stoppage time, with a shot through the crowd of defenders.

But just as France thought they had won a point, New Zealand referee Matthew Conger was called to the VAR screen and denied the goal for offside.

North Africa supporters counted down the final seconds to a famous win over France that eased the pain of elimination.

Khazri, Tunisia’s goalscorer, said: “They still have top-class players but we have been excellent and I think the result depends on us.

“Unfortunately, in football it’s better not to depend on others to get results, but we can hold our heads high.”


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