1st December 2022 – (Doha) Australia, Argentina and Poland secured places in the FIFA World Cup round of 16 in Qatar on Wednesday as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Tunisia were eliminated.
Mathew Leckie scored a superb second-half goal to fire Australia to a 1-0 win over Denmark as the Socceroos set up a clash with Argentina in the next round.
It will be Australia’s first appearance in the knockout stage since 2006 when Guus Hiddink’s team fell in the last 16 to eventual champions Italy. Denmark finished last in Group D to crash out of the tournament.
“I’m proud, exhausted, everything really. It’s hard to describe the emotions right now,” Leckie said. “We always knew we could do it as a group. We had our doubters, but our spirit, our belief, our work ethic and how close we are as a group shows on the pitch. We battled until the end.”
At Stadium 974, goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez gave Argentina a 2-0 win over Poland, a result that saw the South American side finish top of Group C.
Poland progressed thanks to Saudi Arabia’s late goal against Mexico in the other game, and they also celebrated on the pitch at the final whistle. Czeslaw Michniewicz’s men will meet France in the last 16.
Lionel Messi saw a first-half penalty saved by the Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, but it didn’t matter as the changes Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made to his starting line-up made all the difference.
Scaloni brought Manchester City forward Alvarez and midfielder Enzo Fernandez into the team, with Alvarez scoring the second of the night and Fernandez giving Argentina control of midfield while also moving the ball much more effectively than the dropped Guido Rodriguez.
Robert Lewandowski led the Poland line but was left isolated as the European side produced virtually nothing in attack all game.
Defending champions France finished as Group D leaders despite a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tunisia. Wahbi Khazri put his side ahead with a 58th-minute strike, but it was not enough to secure the African team a spot in the last 16 as they finished third in their group.
In Wednesday’s other match, Mexico overcame Saudi Arabia 2-1 but failed to advance on goal difference. Henry Martin and Luis Chavez struck early in the second half, but Salem Aldawsari pulled a goal back in stoppage time to kill off any hope Mexico had of progressing to the next round.