Monday, January 30, 2023

FIFA World Cup: France, Argentina through to Quarter Finals

The defending World Cup champions are moving onto the quarterfinals. France earned a dominant 3-1 win over Poland in a round of 16 match at Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar on Sunday. The team got scoring contributions from its all-time goals leader and someone who appears well on his way to chasing that record.
The first goal came from Olivier Giroud, who capitalized off a pass from Kylian Mbappé in the 44th minute and gave France a 1-0 advantage. The tally marked Giroud’s 52nd career international goal with France and broke a tie with Thierry Henry atop the country’s all-time goals list.
Mbappé padded the French lead in the 74th minute. He was all alone in the box and meticulously ripped a shot past Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and into the back of the net.
The 23-year-old superstar wasn’t done just yet, though. He scored in the first minute of second-half stoppage time off a similar strike to seal the victory.
The brace put Mbappé at five goals at the 2022 World Cup, putting him two scores up in the tournament’s Golden Boot race and surpassing his total of four goals from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Next up for France is a quarterfinals match on Dec. 10. The team will face the winner of the round of 16 tilt between England and Senegal.
France is already the first defending World Cup champion to reach the following tournament’s knockout stage since Brazil in 2006. Now, France is hoping to become the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil pulled off the feat in 1962.
On the losing side, Poland is eliminated after reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 1986. Robert Lewandowski got his first ever World Cup goal in a group stage victory over Saudi Arabia and added a consolation goal off a penalty on the final play of Sunday’s defeat.
Messi scores, Argentina beats Australia 2-1: Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th professional game with his first goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup, leading Argentina into the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday.
With a flourish of his famous left foot in the 34th minute, Messi put Argentina ahead with his third goal at this year’s tournament and ninth in total at the World Cup — one more than Diego Maradona.
Julian Alvarez pounced on a heavy touch by Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to tap into an empty net for the second goal as Argentina set up a meeting with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
Australia scored a 77th-minute consolation goal when Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected into the net off Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez. For Australia’s squad of unheralded players, it was a match too far at a World Cup in which the team has exceeded expectations by reaching the knockout stage for only the second time. Australia also lost in the last 16 in 2006, to eventual champion Italy.
Maybe it’s an omen for Argentina, which has fully recovered from its shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening group match and won three straight games.
As for Messi, he now has 789 goals in a career that might yet reach a crescendo on Dec. 18 by winning the soccer’s biggest trophy in his fifth and likely last World Cup.
Argentina and the Netherlands will play their quarterfinal match at Lusail Stadium, the 89,000-seat venue where the final will be staged. The teams last met at the World Cup in 2014, when Argentina won a penalty shootout in the semifinals.

Japan vs Croatia
Brazil vs South Korea
12:30am (Tuesday)

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring the opening goal at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha Saturday. (AP)
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