World Cup recap, day 11: Australia, Argentina make knockout stage

There was celebration and disappointment aplenty on Wednesday as Australia beat Denmark 1-0 and Argentina won 2-0 against Poland.

Happy looking Australia fans wearing the golden yellow and green shirts of the team celebrate Australia's victory. They look really happy and some are punching the air. One has an inflatable kangaroo
Australian fans celebrate as their team makes it to the last 16 [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

Day 11 of the World Cup in Doha saw wild celebrations as Australia made it to the tournament’s knockout stage for the first time since 2006, while Argentina cruised into the knockout round with a comfortable win over Poland.

It was a day of disappointment for Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Denmark, however.

Here is a quick recap of all you need to know from day 11 – Wednesday, November 30 – of the Qatar World Cup 2022.

Australia vs Denmark

A goal by Mathew Leckie gave Australia a 1-0 victory over Denmark and sent the Socceroos through to the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

Denmark, ranked 10th in the world by football’s governing body FIFA, needed to win the match at the Al Janoub Stadium to progress.

There were no goals in the first half as Australia frustrated Denmark’s attempts to move forward and mounted a few counterattacks of their own.

It was about the one-hour mark when Leckie broke the deadlock with a moment of magic, outsmarting Danish full-back Joakim Maehle before powering the ball past Kasper Schmeichel and into the far corner of the net.

“I’m proud, exhausted, everything really. It’s hard to describe the emotions right now,” Leckie told Australian broadcaster SBS after the game.

“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. The last 15, 20 minutes, we battled until the end.”

Mathew Leckie watches as the ball goes beyond the finger tips of blond-haired Danish goalkeeper and into the net
Australia’s Mathew Leckie scores their first goal at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Group D, Australia vs Denmark, Al Janoub Stadium, November 30, 2022 [Pool via REUTERS/Alex Grimm]

There were celebrations in Australia and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hailed what he called a “magnificent win”.

Australia now face Argentina on Saturday.

Argentina vs Poland

It was a comfortable win for Argentina over Poland as the South American giants topped Group C and confirmed their place in the knockout stage.

Helped by a relentless Lionel Messi, Argentina notched up a 2-0 victory at Stadium 974, with both goals coming in the second half.

Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez’s goals capped a dominant display by coach Lionel Scaloni’s players with tens of thousands of raucous supporters packing the stadium to cheer on their team.

Messi never stopped surging forward and posed a menace to Poland throughout the game with his dribbling ability and vision.

His glittering performance stood in stark contrast to that of Poland’s star striker Robert Lewandowski who failed to make an impact.

Argentina's Lionel Messi in action with Poland's Bartosz Bereszynski
Argentina star Lionel Messi was a menace to Poland throughout the match [Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters]

Messi, 35, has admitted that Qatar will probably be his last World Cup while Lewandoski, who is a year younger, has said he is unsure if he will make it to the next tournament, which is being held in North America in 2026.

Despite Poland’s lacklustre performance they still managed to make it through to the knockout phase on goal difference. They will take on France in the last 16 on Sunday.

Tunisia vs France

France, the defending champions who had already booked their place in the knockout stage, fell to Tunisia in a shock 1-0 defeat at the Education City stadium.

France-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the game in the 58th minute as Tunisia had caused a serious upset.

It was only the third victory in six World Cup tournaments for Tunisia. They were eliminated when Australia beat Denmark in the other group match.

Tunisia score against France
Tunisia beat defending champions France but failed to qualify for the last 16 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

France, who won their first two matches, finished top of Group D on goal difference from runners-up Australia.

Mexico vs Saudi Arabia

It was a night of celebration and sadness for Mexico as they beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a thrilling match but failed to make the knockout stage.

Henry Martin and Luis Chavez both scored in a thrilling Group C match, with the two goals coming in quick succession early in the second half.

The Mexicans needed one more goal to overtake Poland on goal difference and get through the group but it was the Saudis who scored in the dying moments of the game, making it 2-1.

“It’s a hard blow, there are no words,” said Mexico midfielder Edson Alvarez. “The team went out looking for it from the start and we had a lot of chances. But we couldn’t score and that leaves a bitter taste.”

The loss was a further disappointment for Saudi Arabia who started the tournament on a high, beating Argentina 2-1.

A Mexico fan wearing the team shirt and a straw hat with Mexico written in red and green on the upturned brim watches the match. He looks tense
A tense Mexico fan watches from the stands as the team beat Saudi Arabia but still failed to make it to the knockout stages [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

The loss to Mexico followed a 2-0 defeat to Poland and means Saudi Arabia finish bottom of the group.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies