World Cup 2022: Messi humiliated as Argentina books date with Australia

Argentina and Poland are through to the Round of 16 after a wild morning of FIFA World Cup action in Qatar.

There was intense drama on Day 11 as Mexico were bundled out on goal difference following their 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia.

At the same time Argentina were completing a 2-0 victory over Poland.

With Mexico tied with Poland on points, goal difference and goals scored in the dying stages of their Group C match – it seemed as though the South American nation would be bundled out of the World Cup due to fair play rules, given they’d received more yellow cards than Poland.

However in a final blow, Saudi Arabia scored a consolation goal, sealing Mexico’s fate.

The results mean the Socceroos will play Messi’s Argentina in a Round of 16 clash on Sunday at 6am (AEDT) after Graham Arnold’s men won through to the knockout stages of the World Cup for just the second time.

Australia looked to be in trouble when Tunisia went 1-0 up on France in the second half, but Mathew Leckie scored one of the most important goals in the history of Australian football just minutes later to secure a 1-0 win against Denmark and send us through.

It triggered absolute madness on the field and at the live site in Melbourne’s Federation Square where fans were seen going ballistic.

You can see the full list of results and the full group standings here. (All times in AEDT)

7.55am – Late goal seals Mexico’s fate

Mexico could so easily have got the crucial third goal it needed in its second half blitz. Two goals were disallowed and it seemed cruel that Uriel Antuna was celebrating when the touchline official signalled he was offside.

He had been put through by a sweet through ball and slotted past the keeper who had come a mile off his line.

However, it didn’t matter in the end as Saudi Arabia salvaged some pride with a late goal to Salem Al Dawsari.

Mexico had thrown caution to the wind to find its final goal.

“Mexico are shattered,” the home broadcast service commentator said.

“It’s heartbreaking for them.”

7.28am – Nightmare scenario for Poland as Argentina score again

Poland’s Round of 16 hopes are on a knife edge after Argentina took a 2-0 lead in their final group stage match.

Julián Álvarez’s thunderous strike into the top right corner put Poland equal on points and goal difference with Group C rivals Mexico.

If things stay as they are, Poland will advance on the fair play rule as they’ve received less cards than Mexico.

7.15am – Another big twist in Group C

Mexico is daring to dream of a spot in the last 16 after scoring two second half goals to shock Saudi Arabia.

The goals mean Mexico has joined Poland on four points in Group C on the live standings.

Mexico still needs to make up a two-goal difference.

The goals came in quick succession after Luis Chavez scored a freakish goal off a free kick a mile outside the penalty area.

His goal came just five minutes after Henry Martin scored from a scrappy deflection inside the six-yard box.

7.05am – Argentina go ahead seconds after half-time

Argentina have claimed a deserved 1-0 lead just seconds in the second half, with Alexis Mac Allister converting off a low cross from Nahuel Molina.

Mac Allister’s strike to the bottom left corner of Poland’s goal beat the outstretched hand of Poland’s superstar goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and sent Argentinian fans absolutely wild.

6.40am – Messi at centre of huge VAR drama

A VAR drama has lit up Argentina’s final group match, with Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny found to have illegally made contact to the face of Lionel Messi.

Polish fans were outraged as the referee deemed the contact, which occurred as Messi was attempting to header in a cross, worthy of a penalty.

It gave the Argentinian maestro a shot at giving his side a crucial lead, however there was one more twist in the tale.

Szczęsny guessed Messi’s ensuing penalty attempt perfectly, knocking the attempt out of play with a strong block.

The overriding sense from football fans was that justice was done with the penalty save – given it was a horrible call to award Messi the penalty in the first place.

The match remains locked at 0-0 at half-time in a game that Argentina have completely dominated.

6am – ‘Never seen anything like it’: World Cup insanity

There have been crazy scenes at Lusail Iconic Stadium as Saudi Arabia and Mexico fans cheer their teams on.

Both teams can still progress out of the group stage and the passion of fans resulted in a frenzied atmosphere in the first half with more than 80,000 squeezing into the stadium.

Almost all of those fans appeared to be cheering for Saudi Arabia.

BBC reporter Shamoon Hafez said: “It’s raucous, it’s rowdy and it’s ruddy brilliant.

“It is so loud in here already. The Saudi fans are making a deafening noise, it’s going to leave my ears ringing for the rest of the week. This is something else.”

It was similarly crazy over at Stadium 974 as Argentina take on Poland.

4am — Socceroos make history

Australia has not made it out of the group stages since the golden generation of Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill in 2006.

Now Graham Arnold’s men have done the same.

It is also the first time Australia has ever won back-to-back matches at the World Cup.

The win over Denmark sees the Danes and Tunisia knocked out, while France topped the group after drawing 1-1 with Tunisia.

“Can you believe it,” SBS commentator David Basheer said at full time.

Socceroos great Luke Wiltshire said he was “speechless”.

Goal-scoring hero Leckie said when asked how he was feeling at full time: “Just proud. Exhausted. Everything. It’s hard to describe the emotions right now.

“We always knew we could do it. We believed as a group. We had our doubters. With our spirit, our belief, our work ethic and how close we are, it shows on the pitch.

“We’ll make the most of it tonight, then it’s all about recovery. Obviously we have another game coming up.”

Coach Graham Arnold said he could “see it in their eyes” that his players were going to deliver on Thursday morning.

“So proud of the effort by the boys,” he said.

“Short turn around, but their effort was incredible.”

He has already warned his players it is time to stop celebrating and start preparing for their next match.

“No celebrations. As I said to the boys, that’s why we won after a great win against Tunisia.,” he said.

“No celebrations, no emotion. Sleep. No social media.”

Defender Milos Degenek also spoke emotionally about his team’s performance.

“Every ball is like the last ball, you defend for your life,” he said.

“It’s like trying to block bullets that are going to hit your family. That’s what we’re doing. We’re blocking, throwing bodies at it.”

3.30am – Leckie scores a stunner

Mathew Leckie has scored for Australia just minutes after Tunisia scored against France.

It was a goal of absolute class from Leckie as the Socceroos forward danced his way inside a defender to put Australia ahead 1-0 in the 60th minute.

Leckie’s goal came after a sweet forward pass by Riley McGree and a spot-on outlet pass by defender Harry Souttar. Leckie seized his moment when one-on-one with the last defender and eventually got onto his left boot after a ziz-zagging run, putting it across the keeper into the back of the net.

“Brilliant composure from Leckie in the box, he turned him inside out,” former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire said in commentary for SBS.

“Taken onto his left foot and what a finish across goal. Fantastic counterattack.”

Former English striker Dion Dublin was also impressed when commentating the goal for the BBC.

“It’s a really well taken goal,” he said.

“Leckie bides his time, he has to hold his run as well. Leckie strikes the ball, it goes through Maehle’s legs as well which makes it more difficult for Schmeichel.

“Not a lot of pace on it but he won’t care, he has got it in the back of the net. He had a lot to do, a 40-50 yard run. He had a lot to think about but he composed himself.”

Football journalist Daniel Garb described it as a “miraculous goal”.

3.15am — Disaster as Tunisia scores against France

Australia is holding up its end of the bargain but an understrength French side is letting us down.

The French rested a host of key stars and was made to pay early in the second half as Wahbi Khazri made an impressive run into the box and finished past the keeper.

It suddenly left Australia needing a win against Denmark, instead of a draw.

3am – Desperate Australia made to suffer

Graham Arnold made one change at half time with Craig Goodwin replaced by Keanu Baccus.

There were calls for Australia to immediately look for some fresh legs after a first half bombardment from Denmark, but Arnold held fire on any further changes.

There were dangerous signs early with Denmark finding it easy to get the ball into the box. The late selection change of bringing in Milos Degenek to replace Fran Karacic paid off early as the defender made a vital block near the goal line.

It wasn’t the only early scary moment for Australia with the back four forced to scramble desperately on several occasions.

Socceroos great Luke Wiltshire said on SBS: “There’s that threat in behind, but we’re scrambling well. But it’s concerning, the amount of times they get in behind us and isolating us one on one”.

SBS commentator Craig Foster said at half time the Socceroos grew into the game and began to find some confidence.

“They need to come out in the second half and do the same thing,” he said.

“Sometimes you have to survive and suffer in football matches. They did do that. Now it’s a very different game.”

Sport reporter Melanie Dinjaski posted on Twitter: “Don’t know whether it’s just because I’m still waking up but the pace Denmark have looks scary in the first 10min”.

Sport reporter Marnie Vinall posted on Twitter: “Absolutely defending for our LIVES”.

But Australia survived with a clean sheet in tact at halftime — and that’s all that matters at this point.

Earlier, defender Aziz Behich was handed a yellow card just four minutes into the showdown with Denmark.

Behich was happy to commit a foul, grabbing a fistful of his Danish opponent’s jumper as they challenged for a loose ball.

2.30am — ‘Zero atmosphere’: Shocking scenes at crucial clash

It may be one of Australia’s biggest games at the World Cup but it’s not one for the neutrals.

Al Janoub Stadium had plenty of empty seats, with one small pocket of Australian fans in the corner. There are about the same amount of Danish fans on the other end.

The majority of the rest of the crowd seems to be neutrals, who even tried to start a Mexican wave early on – which is never a sign they’re enjoying themselves.

“Stadium half empty and almost zero atmosphere,” tweeted Daily Mail reporter Mike Keegan. “First Mexican wave timed at 12 minutes. Feels like there may be a lot of people here who don’t care much for Australia v Denmark.”

“Definitely #AUSDEN is worst ambient I have ever been at World Cup,” added veteran journo Tancredi Palmer.

“Stadium almost full, maybe only 2k missing, but silent as covid times with empty stands. 2k each for Australia and Denmark and they don’t sing a bit too. Do they need beer to sing? Sad.”

“Also one of dullest games I have ever been at World Cup,” Palmer added.

It’s a much different story on home soil, where thousands of fans have packed out Federation Square in Melbourne.

(All times AEDT)

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