Saturday, January 28, 2023

FIFA WC 2022: France reach last 16; Poland, Australia register wins

Kylian Mbappe scored twice to send champions France into the last 16 of the World Cup as they beat Denmark 2-1 in their Group D clash at the 974 Stadium on Saturday, making them first side to qualify for the knockout stage.
France top the group on six points, three ahead of Australia, who beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier in the day, with the Danes and the Tunisians both on one point. France take on Tunisia and Denmark meet Socceroos in the final round on Wednesday.
A tight, tense first half saw France enjoy the better chances as Adrien Rabiot went close with a header and the Danes were forced into a number of last-ditch blocks to keep their clean sheet intact. It was not to last and Mbappe put the French ahead in the 61st minute, crowning a superb high-speed French counter with a bouncing first-time finish from Theo Hernandez’s clever pull-back.
Always a danger from set pieces, Andreas Christensen put the Danes level seven minutes later, stealing in behind the defence and stooping to head home. Neither side seemed content with a draw and Rabiot fired a spectacular volley over in the 80th minute, and a minute later substitute Martin Braithwaite fired a first-time effort of his own just wide of the near post.
The game looked set to end in a stalemate until Mbappe popped up in the 86th minute at the far post to cushion home an Antoine Griezmann cross from close range to restore the lead to send the travelling French fans into raptures. Denmark threw everything forward looking for a second equaliser, leaving acres of space at the back, but their late attacks against a side they beat twice in the recent Nations League campaign lacked precision and the French held on for the win that put them through.
France beat Australia 4-1 in its opening game while the Danes drew 0-0 with Tunisia. The Aussies beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier Saturday.
Poland beat Saudis 2-0
Finally! Robert Lewandowski at last scored a goal in a World Cup match on Saturday, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 and boosting his team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages.
Lewandowski shed tears after scoring in the 82nd minute.
He raced toward the corner with his arms outstretched, then stayed slumped on the field as teammates rushed to congratulate him. He got up, rubbed his face, and blew a kiss to the crowd.
Arguably one of the best forwards in the world, Lewandowski’s barren streak at the World Cup was somewhat puzzling. Now, after five previous matches at the tournament, it’s over.
Lewandowski also set up the opener in the 40th minute when he kept the ball in play after goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais’ initial block, then laid it back for Piotr Zielinski to knock in.
Lewandowski also hit the post and Al-Owais denied the Barcelona player from scoring another goal late in the match.
Poland was scrambling for long periods at the Education City Stadium as the Saudi team was pushed forward by enthusiastic fans in what seemed like a home game.
The frustration was clear on Lewandowski’s face as Poland’s yellow cards mounted.
Saudi Arabia had a chance to equalize at the end of the first half but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Salem Al-Dawsari’s penalty kick. He then blocked Mohammed Al-Burayk’s shot from the rebound.
Poland will next face Argentina, while Saudi Arabia will meet Mexico in their last Group C games.

Aus beats Tunisia to boost last 16 hopes

Australia secured a huge victory against Tunisia in Group D to keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive. It was the first win at a World Cup since 2010 for the Socceroos.
Mitchell Duke’s fine header in the first half was enough to get them past a stodgy Tunisia, as the African nation were spurred on by their huge number of fans in the stadium but they couldn’t find a way past Matt Ryan in Australia’s goal. The victory sets up a huge game against Denmark in Australia’s Group D finale, as a win against the Danes will see them reach the last 16.
As for Tunisia, they now face reigning World Cup champions France in their final group stage game knowing they have to win and hope for a miracle.

US-England match ends in 0-0 draw
The United States frustrated England in a 0-0 draw on Friday for its second consecutive tie in the World Cup. The result might not match the U.S.’ famous 1-0 win from the 1950 tournament, but it was the latest occasion in which the Americans have defied the odds against the Three Lions.
England is still waiting for its first win in three World Cup matches against the U.S. after a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2010. The U.S. came close to recording a second victory over England at a World Cup after creating several scoring chances, including a first-half shot by Christian Pulisic that smashed the crossbar. Weston McKennie also fired over from just eight yards out. Harry Kane missed a stoppage time header for England. England knew victory would guarantee progress to the knockout stages, but a draw still keeps it at the top of Group B with four points. The U.S. is third with two points and needs a win against Iran on Tuesday to advance.

SUNDAY’S MATCHES
Japan vs Costa Rica– 3:30pm
Belgium vs Morocco–6:30pm
Croatia vs Canada–9:30pm
Spain vs Germany 12:30am (Monday)

Poland’s forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his team’s second goal on Saturday.
Australia’s Mitchell Duke, right, celebrates scoring their first goal with Jackson Irvine on Saturday.
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