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World Cup 2022 in review: Day 11 - Argentina progress and Poland scrape through after late drama in Group C
A daily report from the 2022 World Cup, reviewing the day’s matches, saves, goals, gaffes and moments of magic from Qatar.
Group C and D came to their conclusion today, with Group C featuring four nations that could still qualify before kick-off. Would Messi and Argentina make it to the Round of 16?
In Group D, France had already qualified and were almost guaranteed to qualify as group winners. But the battle was on for the runners up spot, occupied by Australia prior to the day's matches. Could Denmark or Tunisia gatecrash the party?
The day’s results
Tunisia 1-0 France
Australia 1-0 Denmark
Poland 0-2 Argentina
Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico
Tunisia 1-0 France
Didier Deschamps made wholesale changes to his French side knowing that they'd already qualified and were extremely unlikely to relinquish their top spot in Group D.
A number of fringe players came in, while France's superstars - Mbappe, Griezmann, Dembele, Lloris, Rabiot, Giroud, Kounde and Upamecano all started on the bench.
It was a move designed to rest players for the knockout stages, but the new-look France didn't gel and it was Tunisia who looked the much better side in the first half.
The Tunisians played the match at a high intensity, hustling the French newbies off the ball at every opportunity.
And after eight minutes Tunisia had the ball in the net. Nader Ghandri connected with a Wahbi Khazri freekick, but the forward was called offside by the linesman.
Tunisia were particularly strong on the left-hand side, with Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga having a torrid time in his new position at left-back for France.
The current world champions' first big chance fell to Kingsley Coman after 25 minutes. The Bayern Munich forward was well found in the box by Youssouf Fofana, but he couldn't keep his balance and fired wide when he should've at least hit the target.
Tunisia hit back with a tame close-range header from Anis Ben Slimane and a long-range effort from Khazri, which Steve Mandanda saved low down.
Having expended so much energy in the first half, the question was whether Tunisia could keep it up in the second 45.
In the 58th-minute Fofana lost the ball in the centre of the pitch, thinking he'd been fouled he stopped to complain to the ref.
Khazri picked the ball up and ran at the French defence, easily rounding Raphaël Varane and poking the ball into the corner past the advancing Mandanda.
The goal prompted Deschamps to bring on the big guns - Mbappe, Rabiot, Dembele and Griezmann all charged with changing the game.
Dembele took just a few minutes before having a shot saved from long range, while Mbappe came close with a powerful drive from a tight angle.
Randal Kolo Muani narrowly shot past the post after some lovely build-up play involving Mbappe, then in the last minute of injury time it looked as if Griezmann had salvaged a point, volleying home after a poor defensive header.
But after a long VAR check the Atletico Madrid man was adjudged to have been offside when the initial ball was played into the box.
Tunisia held on for a historic win, but results elsewhere mean they're out of the World Cup. France will play Poland.
Australia 1-0 Denmark
Australia are through to the Round of 16 after an impressive result against heavily fancied Denmark. They'll play Argentina.
As expected, Denmark started the match well, controlling possession but without creating too many clear-cut chances.
Mathias Jensen had a half-chance after 11 minutes, running onto a Martin Braithwaite pass and firing towards goal from a tight angle inside the box. The shot was well palmed over the bar by Mat Ryan.
Joakim Maehle's cut back from the left-hand side also caused Ryan some issues, but it was well cleared before any other Danish player could pounce on the loose ball.
Australia didn't create much in the first half, but Riley McGree did try his luck, forcing a save from Kasper Schmeichel.
The Socceroos showed more ambition in the second half, seemingly upping their game after hearing that Tunisia had scored against France, which would've knocked them out if scores remained as they were.
On the hour mark a Danish move broke down in Australia's penalty box and a swift counter attack saw Riley McGree play Mathew Leckie through against Denmark's defence.
After twisting and turning, Leckie's left-foot shot rolled past Schmeichel into the corner of the net.
Denmark tried to battle back, but just couldn't create any clear openings. They thought they'd been handed a lifeline when Kasper Dolberg was brought down in the box by Harry Souttar, but there was an offside in the build up and the ref's decision was overruled by the linesman's flag.
Australia held on to progress to the knockout stage, while Denmark disappointingly crashed out of the World Cup.
Poland 0-2 Argentina
Argentina put on a dominant display against a poor Poland side, having numerous chances throughout the match.
After 10 minutes, Lionel Messi dribbed into the box, firing a low shot towards the near post which Wojciech Szczęsny saved well.
And the efforts kept on coming with Messi pulling the strings in midfield.
Marcos Acuña fired over the bar before a blocked shot from Julian Alvarez fell to Acuña again, whose shot whistled wide.
Just after the half-hour mark a Angel Di Maria corner needed tipping over the bar.
Then in the 35th-minute the real drama unfolded.
Brighton's Alexis Mac Allister slipped a ball through to Man City's Alvarez who hit his shot hard, but Szczęsny parried it well. Alvarez then returned the ball back into the box aiming for Messi's head.
Szczęsny launched himself at the ball and made minimal contact with Messi, but after the referee went to the monitor a soft penalty was awarded.
Messi stepped forward, but Szczęsny pulled off a remarkable save - justice served.
Argentina continued to attack before the break and Alvarez tried his luck from range. Szczęsny should've smothered the shot, but palmed it out to Rodrigo De Paul who couldn't get a good connection from a few yards out.
It took Argentina just 60 seconds of second-half football to get the goal they deserved.
Nahuel Molina cut back a cross from the right-hand side and Mac Allister hit a shot first time from the centre of the penalty area into the far corner.
Poland's best chance came shortly after falling behind. Piotr Zielinski swung in a freekick which found Kamil Glik, but his header went agonisingly wide.
Then on 68 minutes Argentina doubled their lead, with Alvarez firing his shot into the far corner from inside the box.
With Mexico winning their game against Saudi Arabia, Poland were hanging onto their place in the next round on diciplinary points. Another goal against them or a third goal for Mexico would see Poland out of this World Cup.
And Argentina had lots more chances.
Messi had a shot saved from inside the box, Alvarez hit the side netting when through on goal and Lautaro Martínez dragged his shot wide with five minutes left.
In the second minute of injury time Nicolás Tagliafico's dink over the keeper was blocked on the line.
There was an anxious few minutes for Poland as they waited for the Mexico match to finish before they could celebrate. Poland will now play France in the Round of 16.
Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico
Despite Mexico's win, they go out of the World Cup on goal difference.
The match started at a frantic pace, with Mexico having the best of the chances.
After just two minutes Luis Chávez shot wide from the edge of the box. Then moments later Alexis Vega was through on goal but had his shot smothered by Mohammed Al Owais.
Mid-way through the half a Hirving Lozano cross was met by the head of Orbelín Pineda, but it hit a defender on its way into the net and went wide.
Saudi Arabia's best chance came late on in first-half injury time, when Ali Al Hassan's header flew past the far post.
Early in the second half Mexico got their goal, with Henry Martín finishing off a corner from close range.
And while Mexico's first goal was relatively straightforward, their second was simply sublime.
Luis Chávez scored one of the best freekicks in World Cup history and one of this World Cup's best goals when he struck a freekick into the top corner from 30 yards out.
With Poland losing, Mexico needed more goals to leapfrog them and move into second place in Group C.
They had the ball in the net for a third time, but Hirving Lozano was called offside after firing his shot into the bottom corner.
And then things got really frantic, with Mexico throwing everything at Saudi Arabia to try and make it through to the knockout stage.
Henry Martín, Edson Álvarez, Chávez and Lozano all had efforts on goal, but in the 95th-minute Saudi Arabia broke free and Salem Al Dawsari slid the ball past Guillermo Ochoa to end Mexico's World Cup dreams.
Goal of the day
Luis Chávez - Mexico
You thought Marcus Rashford scored a good freekick, check this one out!
Midfielder Luis Chávez stepped up from 30 yards out and bent his strike over the wall and into the top corner. It's one of the best goals of this World Cup and one of the best freekicks in World Cup history. Stunning!
Save of the day
Wojciech Szczesny - Poland
The Poland keeper made a good save from Julian Alvarez, but then launched himself at the ball back into the box, making minimal contact with Lionel Messi. A penalty was awarded after a VAR check and Messi stepped up to take it.
The Argentine hit it hard to Szczesny's left, but the keeper threw out a strong right arm to save the spot kick and keep it at 0-0.
Player of the day
Wojciech Szczesny - Poland
Despite conceding two goals, Poland can thank their goalkeeper for keeping them in the World Cup. The former Arsenal goalkeeper made numerous saves throughout the match to keep them above Mexico on goal difference and see them through to the next round.
- France's superstar substitute bench watched on as Deschamps played the squad players in the first half.
- Australia fans back home watching their team win against Denmark - at 3am!
- Boxer Canelo Alvarez apologising to Lionel Messi for calling him out over kicking a Mexico shirt in the changing room.
- Argentina fans taking over Stadium 974 - blue and white everywhere.
- A mesmerising Messi run ends with a mis-kick from the little legend. It was so nearly Messi at his very best on the biggest stage.
- Luis Chávez with one of the best freekicks you'll ever see to give Mexico a 2-0 lead over Saudi Arabia.
Quote of the day
Australia manager, Graham Arnold, on his side's historic win over Denmark:
“When the Cricket World Cup is on, you don’t see Federation Square (in Melbourne) like it is and pubs like they are, or if it’s rugby union, rugby league or anything.
“The World Cup of football unites a nation and I’m just proud that we’ve been able to put smiles on people’s faces."
Image of the day
Said on social
Thursday 1 December:
Group F: Croatia vs Belgium - 3pm KO
Group F: Canada vs Morocco - 3pm KO
Group E: Japan vs Spain - 7pm KO
Group E: Costa Rica vs Germany - 7pm KO