The second day of Matchday 2 action at the 2022 Men’s World Cup saw an underdog get a W, and three international superstars give their nations hope of glory!
World Cup Matchday 2: Groups C & D
World Cup Group C: Poland 2 – 0 Saudi Arabia
Poland came into their second match in Group C with only one point, and they faced the nation that pulled off the biggest upset in matchday one, Saudi Arabia, who upset Argentina. The game began and it was clear that both countries had clear game plans. Saudi Arabia wanted the ball, and Poland tried to hit them where it hurt on counter-attacks.
The style that saw the first reward was Poland. Robert Lewandowski was played in on goal on a Poland counter, but his touch took him wide of the target. He played it back into the box, and Pitor Zielinski was able to riffle home an effort. Saudi Arabia thought they’d be back level just before halftime as VAR awarded them a penalty.
Salem Al-Dawarsi stepped up to take the penalty, but he was stoned by Wojciech Szczesny. A rebound bounced back to a Saudi Arabia player and a second effort was blocked away by Szczesny. This would be the tale of Saudi Arabia’s day. With just minutes to go in the match, lazy passing led to Poland’s Lewandowski being 1v1 with the keeper. He slotted home the effort for his first-ever World Cup goal and granted Poland an emotional 2-0 win.
World Cup Group C: Argentina 2 – 0 Mexico
The other match in Group C featured two nations that were fighting for their 2022 World Cup lives. Argentina had fallen to Saudi Arabia in their first match, and Mexico had drawn with Poland. With a loss, Argentina would be eliminated from the knockouts; while Mexico couldn’t be knocked out in this one. The pressure was solely on Argentina, and they rose to meet it.
The first half was a cagy affair that saw both teams fouling each other more than playing soccer. Neither side could find the spark needed to create chances. As the match went on and the score stayed 0-0, Argentina looked to make some changes to push the team to victory; they made three changes in seven minutes to flip the script. Mexico was content to sit back and deny Argentina chances, but that changed in the 64th minute.
Just after Argentina’s changes, a player who some call the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi, provided Argentina with a moment of brilliance. He slotted a shot past Mexico’s Guilermo Ochoa to give Argentina the lead in the 64th minute. Argentina didn’t look back as they continued to push for goals; they added a second through substitute Enzo Fernandez. The game would end 2-0 for Argentina, who are very much alive now in Group C play, while Mexico looks done and dusted.
Group C Standings
- 1st – Poland – 4 pts
- 2nd – Argentina – 3 pts
- 3rd Saudi Arabia – 3 pts
- 4th – Mexico – 1 pt
World Cup Group D: Tunisia 0 – 1 Australia
In Group D play Tunisia, who was thought of as an underdog to make it out of Group D, was sitting on one point. They played an Australian side who were thumped 4-1 by France in their opening game. This match was played up as one where Tunisia could find its footing at this 2022 World Cup, and also the one where Australia would be eliminated. The thing about soccer, especially in the World cup is that things rarely ever go as they’re predicted.
Looking at the underlying numbers of this match, Tunisia was the “better side” and should have won the game. They played with the ball for the majority of the match, completing 76% of their 378 passes. Tunisia created 14 shots, only four of which were on target, but that was more than Australia’s 2 shots on target all game. Their expected goals were higher than Australia’s sitting at 0.94. However, they lost this match to a team that just wanted it more.
In the 24th minute, Australia was making a good move forward. A deflected cross flew dangerously into Tunisia’s box, and Australia was the one to react the fastest to it. Mitchell Duke was able to head the ball in a way that the keeper had no chance to make a quick reaction save. The ball lobbed the keeper and nestled into the bottom righthand corner. Australia was 1-0 up and then defended for their lives for 72 minutes to earn a huge three points that propel them to second place in Group D.
World Cup Group D: France 2 – 1 Denmark
In a much-anticipated match in Group D, the defending World Cup champs France took on 10th-ranked Denmark. The match was an evenly matched affair. Both teams possessed the ball and wanted to break down the other. The difference in this match would come down to the defending champions having a World Class playmaker, and Denmark not having that player.
The match was level for 60 minutes, but France’s Kylian Mbappe was on the pitch and looked dangerous. Some good French buildup play created by Mbappe got them into a dangerous position. A quick one-two passing sequence allowed Mbappe to have and convert a chance for France to give them a 1-0 lead. The lead would be short-lived as Denmark roared back. A Danish corner would provide the chance needed to tie the match just seven minutes after France took the lead.
Andreas Christensen headed home the effort to bring Denmark level, but the match still had 22 minutes to go. Both nations pushed for the second goal, but it would be France and Mbappe yet again who would prove to be the difference. he redirected a cross past Denmark in the 86th minute to give France the lead, and the 2-1 win. France punched their ticket to the knockout rounds with this victory, while Denmark will have to hope for some final-day magic to make it to the round of 16.
Group D Standings
- 1st – France – 6 pts
- 2nd – Australia – 3 pts
- 3rd – Denmark – 1 pts
- 4th – Tunisia – 1 pt
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Mandatory Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire