World Cup: Groups C & D Matchday 1 recap

Following an eventful first day of the 2022 Qatar World Cup from Groups A & B, Groups C & D took to the pitch on Tuesday.

World Cup Matchday 1: Groups C & D

22nd November 2022; Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail, Qatar; FIFA World Cup Football, Argentina versus Saudi Arabia; Saleh Al Shehri celebrates scoring the equalising goal for 1-1 in the 48th minute. (Photo by DiaEsportivo/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

Group C: Saudi Arabia 2 – Argentina 1

Going into the tournament, Argentina was on an unbeaten streak of 36 matches. On Tuesday, it was Saudi Arabia who would hand them their first defeat in nearly three years, 2-1.

With today’s start, Lionel Messi tied the men’s player record for playing in five different World Cup tournaments. Argentina took an early 1-0 lead courtesy of Messi from the penalty spot in the 10th minute. Argentina dominated the first half but ended up having three goals called back due to offsides, one from Messi and two from Lautaro Martinez.

In the second half, it was the Saudis who would take control. Saleh Alshehri scored quickly into the second half to equalize the game for the Saudis in the 48th minute.

Just five minutes later, Salem Aldawsari gave the Saudis a 2-1 lead.

Herve Renard’s side would prevail over the Albiceleste after the final whistle blew. Argentina pummeled the Saudis in shots, 15-3, but the earlier offside calls would prove detrimental to the Albiceleste.

In what appeared to be a group dominated by Argentina before the start of the tournament, Group C is now wide open at this World Cup.

Group C: Mexico 0 – Poland 0

In a draw, Mexico dominated Poland but could not break the Polish defense.

Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa continues to remain a World Cup hero. In the 58th minute, Ochoa saved a penalty from Robert Lewandowski, which sent the Mexico fans into raptures. The 37-year-old keeper continues to shine for Mexico at the international level.

Mexico dominated Poland in shots, 11-6, and in possession, 61%-39%. Lewandowski’s missed penalty would’ve given Poland much-needed points in the group, however, it wasn’t meant to be.

Even though Mexico led in shots and possession, their attacking struggles throughout the year remained evident. Striker Raul Jimenez was brought on during the second half. His return to full fitness will be important for Mexico as the World Cup continues.

Group C World Cup Standings

  • 1st – Saudi Arabia – 3 pts
  • 2nd – Poland – 1 pts
  • 3rd – Mexico – 1 pts
  • 4th – Argentina – 0 pts

Group D: Denmark 0 – Tunisia 0

The Danes were the heavy favorites going into the match but they would drop crucial points to Tunisia. Led by Christian Eriksen, the Danes were eager to build off of their incredible Euro 2020 run.

Tunisia started quicker than Denmark by creating early opportunities. In the 22nd minute, Issam Jebali’s goal was called off due to being offside. The Danes suffered from a lack of ball control the whole match due to Tunisia’s strong pressure.

In the 54th minute, Andreas Skov Olsen looked to give the Danes are 1-0 lead, but Mikkel Damsgaard would be called offside, keeping the game tied 0-0.

Eriksen and Andreas Cornelius provided the Danes with two huge chances to get on the scoreboard late in the second half. However, Tunisia’s strong defense was the factor in the 0-0 draw.

This was a disappointing match for Denmark, who were in control for most of the 90 minutes. Denmark owned more possession than Tunisia, 62%-38%. Tunisia had 13 total shots with only one being on target.

Group D: France 4 – Australia 1

Defending World Cup champions, France, began their title defense against Australia. France was the heavy favorite heading into the match, but the Aussies weren’t going to make things easy for the French side.

Australia took an early 1-0 lead in the 9th minute, courtesy of Craig Goodwin. In the 13th minute, French defender Lucas Hernandez suffered an injury and was taken off the pitch. His brother, Theo, was subbed on in his place.

Australia nearly made the game 2-0 in the 22nd minute after an attempt by Mitch Duke just missed wide of the goal. In the 27th minute, Adrien Rabiot evened the score for France and the rest of the match was in their control.

Olivier Giroud didn’t score a goal during the entire 2018 World Cup. In the 32nd minute against Australia, Giroud gave France a 2-1 lead. Giroud’s 50th goal for his country put him one goal shy from tying Thierry Henry for the most international goals in French history.

Kylian Mbappe’s 68th-minute goal extended France’s lead to 3-1. A header by Mbappe from a cross by Ousmane Dembele was the 23-year-olds fifth-ever World Cup goal. After a dominant display in the 2018 tournament, Mbappe is showing why he is one of the most exciting footballers on the planet.

In the 72nd minute, Giroud finally tied Henry’s record. Mbappe found Giroud with a cross which extended France’s lead to 4-1.

Before the tournament began, France was decimated by injuries. 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Mike Maignan, Presnel Kimpembe, and Christopher Nkunku were all injured before France’s first match in Qatar. In need of other players to fill in the gaps left by those injured, Giroud stepped up by tying a French record and giving his country a 4-1 victory.

Group D World Cup Standings

  • 1st – France – 3 pts
  • 2nd – Tunisia – 1 pts
  • 3rd – Denmark – 1 pts
  • 4th – Australia – 0 pts

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Mandatory Credit: DiaEsportivo/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire