World Cup: Groups C & D Matchday 3 recap

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The World Cup Group stage kept rolling on with matchday three for Groups C and D on Wednesday. These matches were packed with drama and had twists and turns in all four matches!

World Cup Matchday 3: Groups C & D

World Cup
Mathew Leckie of Australia scores a goal and celebrates during the FIFA World Cup match Denmark v Australia on November 30, 2022 in Al-Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Uk Sports Pics/Imago/Icon Sportswire)

World Cup Group C: Poland 0 – 2 Argentina

Group C World Cup play had every nation fighting to make the knockout rounds on the final matchday of play. Poland knew they could advance with any kind of result, but their easiest path was a win; Argentina knew a way to pull off a great response since their opening day loss would be to win this match, but they had other ways of advancing too.

When the game kicked off, Argentina looked like a powerhouse, and Poland looked lost. The ball was almost always at the foot of Argentina, and they thought they found the opening goal just before halftime. After winning a penalty Lionel Messi stepped up and hit a shot with power, but it was stopped brilliantly by Wojciech Szczesny. Poland had a lifeline going into the second half, but it would soon be snuffed out.

Argentina kept the pressure on, and in the first minute of the second half, Alexis Allister found the opening goal. It was a goal that had been coming for Argentina, and it wouldn’t be their last. Just about 20 minutes later, Julian Alvarez ended the match making it 2-0. Argentina was on their way to winning Group C. Poland though losing 2-0 was not devoid of hope, as the other match in Group C play was giving them a pathway to the knockout rounds! Both nations would advance on the day to the round of 16 at this World Cup!

Highlights

World Cup Group C: Saudi Arabia 1 – 2 Mexico

In the second match in Group C, which was played simultaneously with the first, Saudi Arabia and Mexico faced off. Both nations knew that a win would be monumental! Saudi Arabia just needed a win outright to advance. Mexico needed a two-goal win, and hope that Poland lost by two or more goals. It looked like we were on a collision course for that result!

After some open back-and-forth play in the first half, the second half seemed to be coming up for Mexico. Henry Martin scored just two minutes into the half, and Mexico knew they needed to push for another. They got just that five minutes later after a Luis Chavez banger of a goal. As the game went on, Mexico and the rampant stadium was hearing the news that Poland was down 2-0 in their match. They then realized that Mexico would still be out, as the tie-breakers between them and Poland were going down to fair play.

After points, goal difference, and goals, the tie-breaker for nations to get out of the group stage is fair play (the least amount of yellow cards goes through). Mexico had one more yellow card, that they received early in this match, which would mean they’d crash out and Poland would go through; unless they won 3-0, or Argentina won 3-0. As the match went into the dire moments, Mexico threw numbers forward; this allowed Saudi Arabia to hit them on counterattacks.

In the fifth minute out of seven in stoppage time, Salem Al-Dawsari was able to score for Saudi Arabia. This was a consultation goal, as Saudi Arabia was out with this result. It also ended Mexico’s hopes for the knockout stages as well as both nations would fall short in the 2022 World Cup.

Highlights

Final Group C Standings

  • 1st – Argentina – 6 pts
  • 2nd – Poland – 4 pts
  • 3rd – Mexico – 4 pts
  • 4th – Saudi Arabia – 3 pts

World Cup Group D: Australia 1 – 0 Denmark

Group D’s World Cup play featured a match between two nations fighting for a spot in the round of 16. Australia and Denmark already knew France was on to the knockout rounds, so the two knew that a win in this match could go a long way to make it so they would progress out of the group as well. For Australia, it was straightforward, win and they’d take second place in the group. Denmark was another story, as the pre-tournament dark horses needed to win and A Tunisia draw or loss to France to advance.

Both nations fighting in this one had distinct styles. Denmark wanted to possess the ball to look for openings to find a goal, while Australia wanted to stay compact, muddy up the midfield, and then hit on the counterattack when they had a numbers advantage. The first half showed this well as neither team had any great chances to score. As the game went on in the second half, one chance would see a goal come, and it was from an Australian counterattack.

The Aussies sprung free from Denmark as Riley McGree hit a ball forward to Matthew Leckie. Leckie had just one defender in front of him and had to twist and turn to get a shot off, but he did so and placed his shot perfectly. It rolled slowly but made its way in. Australia was up and then did what they did best, defend compactly. They won the game 1-0, and were off to the Round of 16 in shocking fashion!

Highlights

World Cup Group D: Tunisia 1 – 0 France

The final game of Group D was one where one nation knew they were through and the other knew they needed a win and some help to advance. France was already through to the knockout rounds of this World Cup; the defending champs took this opportunity to rotate their squad a bit and rest players like Kylian Mbappe. For Tunisia, it was a different story. They needed to win their match, and hope that either Denmark beat Australia by a score of 1-0, or that those two teams had a low-scoring draw to advance.

While France had rotated their squad, they were still the better team with the ball on the day. They still executed their style of play which is to dominate the opposition. Tunisia did well to defend collectively and clear the ball in the first half but found no scoring chances from those clearances. That would change in the second half.

A rare attack down the heart of France’s team, saw a good run Wahbi Khazari rewarded. He moved the ball through France and rolled a perfect low shot past the keeper! It was 1-0 to Tunisia, but that result wouldn’t be enough as Australia would score soon after them in their match. Late on there was some Drama as France scored a goal, but it was ruled out for being offside by VAR.

The match ended 1-0 in favor of Tunisia. They won their most difficult game while falling earlier to “weaker” opponents. Their World Cup results see them crash out of the tournament, while France had already done enough to win the Group in just two matches at the 2022 World Cup!

Highlights

Final Group D Standings

  • 1st – France – 6 pts
  • 2nd – Australia – 6 pts
  • 3rd – Tunisia – 4 pts
  • 4th – Denmark – 1 pt

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