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France earns spot in round of 16

by The Associated Press | November 27, 2022 at 2:15 a.m.
France’s Kylian Mbappe (left) celebrates with teammate Theo Hernandez after giving his team a 1-0 lead against Denmark in the first half Saturday in Doha, Qatar. Mbappe scored both of France’s goals in a 2-1 win. More photos at arkansasonline.com/1127wcup22/ (AP/Martin Meissner)


DOHA, Qatar -- France advanced, and Kylian Mbappe got them there.

The French became the first defending champions to reach the round of 16 at the World Cup since Brazil in 2006, beating Denmark 2-1 Saturday with Mbappe scoring both goals.

"Kylian is an extraordinary player. He has the ability to make the difference at any time no matter what the other team plans to contain him," France Coach Didier Deschamps said. "In addition to his great ability he is totally invested in the team and he's made it an objective of his to win the World Cup."

Mbappe put his team in front in the 61st minute and then scored the winner with his right thigh in the 86th as Les Bleus became the first team at this year's tournament to advance from the group stage.

The France forward swapped passes with Theo Hernandez down the left flank and poked the ball past Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel for the first goal. He then jumped acrobatically to guide in the second after a cross from Antoine Griezmann -- who adapted well in a midfield role and provided his 26th assist for the national team.

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.

He joined another France great, playmaker Zinedine Zidane, with 31 goals. Zidane scored twice in the final when France won its first World Cup against Brazil in 1998 and one goal when Les Bleus lost in the 2006 final to Italy on penalty kicks.

"There are different types of leaders," Deschamps said. "Mbappe's a leader, he sets the example with what he shows on the field."

France beat Australia 4-1 in its opening game.

"We're in an ideal position. It makes you feel very calm to be qualified after two games," Deschamps said. "There's a strong chance we'll finish first in the group."

No other defending champion had made it out of the group stage since 2002 champion Brazil managed to advance four years later. Italy, Spain and Germany all were eliminated early four years after winning their titles.

The first time the French won the World Cup, they also went out early four years later.

ARGENTINA 2,

MEXICO 0

LUSAIL, Qatar -- Lionel Messi came up with another crucial goal for Argentina in a win over Mexico that ignited the team's World Cup chances.

Messi took a touch from Angel Di Maria's pass across the face of the area and drove a low shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner in the 64th minute.

He ran toward Argentina's fans with his arms outstretched arms before getting mobbed by his jubilant teammates. He looked emotional as he grabbed and shook his jersey, then blew a kiss to the crowd.

Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute.

Argentina bounced back from a shocking 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening match. The team is in second place in Group C ahead of its last match against Poland on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old Messi is likely playing in his last World Cup, which is the only major title missing from his collection.

POLAND 2,

SAUDI ARABIA 0

AL RAYYAN, Qatar -- Robert Lewandowski scored a goal in a World Cup match, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 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.

Arguably one of the best forwards in the world, Lewandowski's barren streak at the World Cup was somewhat puzzling. Now, after five previous matches at the tournament, it's over.

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 also hit the post and Al-Owais denied the Barcelona player from scoring another goal late in the match.

Poland was scrambling for long periods at the Education City Stadium as the Saudi team was 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.

AUSTRALIA 1,

TUNISIA 0

AL WAKRAH, Qatar -- Australia only needed to avoid defeat to stay in the World Cup. The Socceroos did more than that in a win over Tunisia.

Mitchell Duke gave Australia the lead midway through the first half with a header and Australia went on to register its first win at soccer's biggest event since a victory over Serbia back in 2010.

The result means Australia still has a chance to qualify for the round of 16, despite losing 4-1 to defending champion France in their opening match.

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 mid-field and made a quick touch to set Craig Goodwin down the left flank and Duke then sprinted forward to nod Goodwin's deflected cross into the far corner.

The goal 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.

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 Drager's dangerous shot shortly before halftime.

Tunisia is still seeking to advance from the group stage for the first time in its sixth World Cup appearance but now needs to beat France.


At a glance

GROUP STAGE

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Australia 1, Tunisia 0

France 2, Denmark 1

Poland 2, Saudi Arabia 0

Argentina 2, Mexico 0

TODAY’S GAMES All times Central

Japan vs. Costa Rica, 4 a.m.

Belgium vs. Morocco, 7 a.m.

Croatia vs. Canada, 10 a.m.

Spain vs. Germany, 1 p.m.


  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
 
 
  photo  Denmark's Andreas Christensen, 2nd right, scores his sides first goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
 
 
  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
 
 
  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe, right, celebrates with France's Antoine Griezmann after scoring his sides first goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
 
 
  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
 
 
  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Denmark during a World Cup group D soccer match at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
 
 
  photo  France's Kylian Mbappe scores past Denmark's goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel his side's second goal during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Denmark, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
 
 



 Gallery: World Cup in Qatar, 11-26-2022



Print Headline: France earns spot in round of 16

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