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Thursday , February 9 2023

Mbappe stars, France reach knockout stage

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Poland beat Saudi Arabia, boost chances of qualifying- Australia revive World Cup campaign

Kylian Mbappe

AL WAKRAH, Qatar, Nov 26, (AP): Kylian Mbappe scored two goals and put defending champions France into the knockout stage of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Denmark on Saturday. Mbappe put France ahead in the 61st minute and then scored the winner in the 86th with his right thigh as Les Bleus became the first team to advance to the next round. Denmark defender Andreas Christensen equalized for his team with a header in the 68th. Mbappe scored four goals when France won the World Cup four years ago, including one in the final. He now has 31 goals for France, moving him one ahead of Just Fontaine – the all-time leading scorer at a single World Cup with 13 goals at the 1958 tournament. France beat Australia 4-1 in their opening game while the Danes drew 0-0 with Tunisia.

The Aussies beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier Saturday. Mitchell Duke celebrated scoring Australia’s winning goal by forming a “J” with his fingers in a tribute to his son Jaxson, who was in the stands. Coach Graham Arnold dragged injured winger Martin Boyle – on crutches – into the celebratory huddle as fans sang merrily along to Men at Work’s “Down Under,” blaring over the stadium speakers after the final whistle. Later, Arnold was wiping away tears. It was an emotion-filled day for Australia, which beat Tunisia 1-0 Saturday at the World Cup. Duke gave Australia the lead midway through the first half with a header and Australia went on to register their first win at soccer’s biggest event since a victory over Serbia back in 2010. “I actually was messaging some of my family, saying that I was going to score today, and I told my son that I was going to be able to share this moment with him and get that celebration,” Duke said. “I haven’t seen it yet but apparently he did it back to me from the stadium, which was a really special moment that I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life.” It was Australia’s first shutout at the World Cup since its tournament debut in 1974 . Boyle was injured a few weeks before the tournament and Arnold explained why he moved him into the team’s staff as “vibe manager” in Qatar.

“To keep all the guys up, because he’s one of the most fantastic blokes you’ll ever meet,” Arnold said. “There was no way he wanted to go home, and no way I wanted to send him home. He deserves it more than anybody for what he did in the qualifying campaign.” In the final round of group games on Wednesday, Tunisia will play France and Australia will meet Denmark. After a scrappy start from both sides, Australia went ahead with a play out of the back from its goalkeeper. Duke collected the goalkeeper’s pass near the middle of the field and made a quick touch to set Craig Goodwin down the left flank. Duke then sprinted forward to nod Goodwin’s deflected cross into the far corner with his back to the goal. The score quieted the large contingent of red-clad Tunisia fans among the crowd of 41,823 inside Al Janoub Stadium, and sent the small pockets of Australian supporters dressed in yellow into delirium.

Tunisia impressed when it held European Championship semifinalist Denmark to a 0-0 draw in its opener but only occasionally threatened against Australia until the Aussies sat back and defended toward the end. “The first half we were not efficient,” Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri. “The second half we did better but we couldn’t convert our chances.” Australia had also gotten off to an early 1-0 lead over France in its opener but then was outplayed in a loss which it blamed on a series of defensive errors. There were fewer errors this time, and some timely interventions, too – none bigger than a last-gasp sliding clearance from center back Harry Souttar to block Mohamed Dräger’s dangerous shot shortly before halftime.

Poland beat Saudi Arabia
AL RAYYAN, Qatar, Nov 26, (AP): Finally! Robert Lewandowski at last scored a goal in a World Cup match on Saturday, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 and boosting his team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages. Lewandowski shed tears after scoring in the 82nd minute. He raced toward the corner with his arms outstretched, then stayed slumped on the field as teammates rushed to congratulate him. He got up, rubbed his face, and blew a kiss to the crowd. “Today everything I had inside, the dreams, the importance of the occasion, all those dreams from my childhood came through,” Lewandowski said. “It was so signifi- cant.” One of the best forwards in the world, Lewandowski’s barren streak at the World Cup was somewhat puzzling. Now, in his fifth match at the tournament, it’s over.

“I always wanted to score at the World Cup and this dream came true,” said Lewandowski, who had a penalty saved in Poland’s 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday. “It’s not easy, because we didn’t have many opportunities in the first match and I missed that penalty.” Against Saudi Arabia, Lewandowski also set up the opener in the 40th minute when he kept the ball in play after goalkeeper Mohammed Al- Owais’ initial block, then laid it back for Piotr Zielinski to knock in. Lewandowski, who had no involvement in any goals in his first four World Cup games, also hit the post, and Al-Owais later denied the Barcelona player from scoring another goal toward the end of the match. It was the one that went in that brought tears to the 34-year-old striker’s eyes. “The older I get, the more emotional I get,” Lewandowski said, referring to his reaction after finally scoring. “I’m aware that when it comes to the World Cup, that this might be my last World Cup. And I wanted to underline that I played at World Cups and I scored.” Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said he wasn’t surprised by Lewandowski’s moving reaction.

“I know how deeply he lived the last match,” Michniewicz said. “I’m very sorry he wasn’t lucky enough, he hit the post and the goalkeeper made a save. He could have had a hat trick today.” Poland were scrambling for long periods at the Education City Stadium as the Saudi team were pushed forward by enthusiastic fans in what seemed like a home game. The frustration was clear on Lewandowski’s face as Poland’s yellow cards mounted. Saudi Arabia had a chance to equalize at the end of the first half but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Salem Al-Dawsari’s penalty kick. He then blocked Mohammed Al-Burayk’s shot from the rebound. Poland will next face Argentina, while Saudi Arabia will meet Mexico in their last Group C games.

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