Bruno Fernandes scored twice to give Portugal a 2-0 victory over Uruguay Monday and send them into the knock-out stages of the World Cup alongside France and Brazil. The Manchester United midfielder scored a cross-cum-shot nine minutes into the second half and then added an injury-time penalty following a handball by Jose Maria Gimenez at the spectacular 89,000-capacity Lusail Stadium.With Portugal already through, Uruguay must now beat Ghana in their final Group H match to stand any chance of also progressing. Both sides made three changes from their opening matches, with Portugal bringing in veteran Pepe for the injured Danilo Pereira, who suffered cracked ribs in training. Pepe became the third-oldest outfield player in World Cup history.Portugal dominated the first half, hogging the ball and creating several chances, but without ever testing Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet. Uruguay's forwards, Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nunez were starved of the ball but the South Americans still had the best opportunity of the first period.Rodrigo Bentancur picked the ball up in his own half and surged forwards, slipping between two defenders to find himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Diogo Costa, who spread himself well to save the midfielder's shot. Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was largely anonymous in the first 45 minutes but did delight fans with a shoulder pass to pick out William Carvalho, who volleyed over.Portugal went in front in the 54th minute as Fernandes created space for himself on the left and curled an inswinging cross into the mixer, with Ronaldo breaking the offside trap to attempt a glancing header. As the ball nestled in the goal, Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration but FIFA decided he had not touched the ball, thus denying him a ninth World Cup goal, which would have put him level with Portuguese great Eusebio.Uruguay coach Diego Alonso threw on forwards Maxi Gomez and Luis Suarez as the South Americans belatedly began to exert some pressure, and both came close to an equaliser. Gomez's rasping drive from 20 yards came back off the post with Costa beaten, while Suarez hit the side netting from close range.With the 90 minutes almost up, Fernandes nutmegged Gimenez, whose trailing hand diverted the ball away from the midfielder and prevented him from finding himself one-on-one with Rochet. Iranian referee Alireza Faghani awarded the spot-kick after a VAR check and Fernandes sent Rochet the wrong way after his signature hop, skip run-up. He then almost completed a hat-trick but hit the post from 20 yards.
Midfielder Casemiro showed his misfiring strikers how to finish on Monday when he lashed in an unstoppable late shot to give Brazil a 1-0 win over Switzerland that sent them into the World Cup knockout stage with a game to spare.A largely featureless game had been meandering towards a goalless draw when Casemiro struck seven minutes from time to take Brazil to six points at the top of Group G.The absence of injured striker Neymar had hung like a shadow over a shoddy Brazil, with only a disallowed goal by Vinicius Jr bringing their huge support to life before the goal.Brazil have six points, Switzerland three and Cameroon and Serbia, who drew 3-3 earlier on Monday, have one each - with all three teams still in the hunt to progress.
Mohammed Kudus netted twice as Ghana edged out South Korea 3-2 in a dramatic and fluctuating World Cup Group H game on Monday to stay in contention for the next round.Ghana led 2-0 at halftime but allowed South Korea back into the match as Cho Gue-sung netted twice in three minutes to level at 2-2, only for Kudus to earn Ghana victory in a heart-stopping contest.Ghana, who lost their opening group game 3-2 to Portugal, moved on to three points in the group, with the Koreans on one after two games.Ghana saw off early Korean pressure to go 2-0 ahead as centre back Mohammed Salisu’s scrambled goal in the 24th minute was followed 10 minutes later by a glancing header from Mohamed Kudus.Both were at the end of superb deliveries from Jordan Ayew, restored to the starting line-up as Ghana fielded a much more offensive line-up than against Portugal.Ayew’s perfectly-weighted free kick caused confusion in the Korean defence and Salisu turned sharply to snap up the opener as the ball bobbled around. There was a lengthy wait for VAR to check the validity of the goal before English referee Anthony Taylor confirmed it.Ayew again provided a wicked delivery, with the right height and pace, for Kudus to apply a glancing touch with his head and double the Black Stars’ lead.Early second-half changes breathed new life into Korea’s attack and Lee kang-in had barely been on the field for a minute when he helped dispossess Tariq Lamptey and fired in a cross that Cho attacked with pace, leaving Salisu watching as he got in front of his marker to power home a 58th-minute header.The 24-year-old centre forward was even more determined as a chip from Kim Jin-su caught the out-of-position goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi scrambling and Cho climbed above the centre backs to score a dramatic equaliser, right in front of a bank of screaming Korean supporters.Ghana, who would have been eliminated from the World Cup had they lost, looked vulnerable but were handed a surprise lifeline by sloppy Korean defending in the 68th minute.Gideon Mensah was allowed to get a cross in from the left, which Inaki Williams missed but the ball fell for Kufus to tuck home with his left foot - all while the Korean backline failed to attack the ball.The fortuitous turn for the Black Stars was followed by Ati-Zigi making a fine save from Lee's free kick and watching as the ball was cleared off the line from Kim Jin-su’s scuffed shot.Ghana continued to live dangerously through 10 minutes of added time as Korea besieged their goal, but were unable to equalise again.
Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score one goal and set up another as the Indomitable Lions rescued a vital point in a 3-3 draw with Serbia on Monday that ended a run of eight successive World Cup losses for the African side.The roller-coaster Group G fixture leaves both teams on a single point from their two games, still in contention for a last 16 place, although Cameroon must face Brazil in their final match on Friday, while Serbia take on Switzerland.Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic said it felt like two points lost after they let a 3-1 advantage slip. But for Cameroon, who stopped the rot in their World Cup results dating back to 2002, it breathes life back into their campaign."In these competitions you have to show desire for victory," Aboubakar said. "My teammates played a great first half despite some small mistakes. We felt they (Serbia) were shaky and a bit tired. When I came on, I tried to make the most of it."What matters is the mindset and the collective spirit, and in that regard we played a great game."Cameroon were without first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana, who asked to leave the squad according to coach Rigobert Song, amid reports that the pair had a falling out over tactics."He is an important player but we are in a difficult tournament," Song said. "I know what I have to do, and that is to ensure that the team takes precedence over any individuals. Andre wanted to step out (of the squad) and we accepted that position. In a squad, discipline is important."It was Serbia who had started the match looking like the brighter side. Alexander Mitrovic struck the post when his quick footwork created a shooting chance from a tight angle.He had another huge opportunity when Cameroon made a hash of clearing their lines and the ball fell to him eight yards out with the goal at his mercy, but he fired wide.Cameroon then took the lead from a set-piece. Jean-Charles Castelletto got on the end of Nicolas N'Koulou’s flick to tap home at the back post.But they never looked comfortable at the back and Serbia levelled in first half injury-time. Dusan Tadic floated a free-kick into the box and Strahinja Pavlovic rose highest to direct the ball into the corner of the net.They grabbed the lead two minutes later when the Cameroon defence allowed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic time to pick his spot from the edge of the box and he steered the ball into the net.The third for Serbia was a beautifully worked goal started and finished by Mitrovic. He drove towards the penalty box and after a succession of passes inside the area, the ball was squared by Andrija Zivkovic and the burly number nine had a simple tap-in for his seventh goal in his last six caps."At that stage we had absolute control of the match," Stojkovic said. "But we were not smart enough to see out the match. We created a lot of opportunities and scored three goals, but couldn't finish it off."The third Serbian goal was the cue for the arrival of Aboubakar off the bench. First he provided a perfect chip into the net for 3-2, then he beat the offside trap, raced clear and whipped over a low cross for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to level the tie and throw Cameroon a lifeline in the competition."That is part of our DNA as Cameroon footballers and it was maybe what was missing in the first match (against Switzerland)," Song said."It is possible to beat Brazil. We believe in ourselves, we did not come here to just go through the motions. Cameroon still has a contribution to make to this tournament."Stojkovic was also confident his side can still progress."In the dressing room we are calm. Yes, we regret the mistakes we made, but the players should not lose their heads over it. We seem to like to take the difficult road."We will do the best we can to play attacking football and try to win (against Switzerland)."
Brazil legend Cafu is enjoying the festive atmosphere in Qatar during the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world.A two-time FIFA World Cup winner and the only man to play in three consecutive finals, Cafu was full of praise for the host country.The former Seleção captain and Qatar Legacy Ambassador is also encouraged by Brazil’s start to the tournament after Tite’s men defeated Serbia 2-0 in their opening match at Lusail Stadium.How have you found the World Cup atmosphere so far in Qatar?It’s fantastic. It’s a wonderful atmosphere. The atmosphere at the matches and the FIFA Fan Festival has been especially fantastic. I’ve been following the progress of things here for many years and it’s great to see everything come together. I am sure everything will get even more exciting as the tournament continues.What have you made of the FIFA Fan Festival?I’ve been to many fan festivals over the years and I want to say congratulations to Qatar for staging a such a fun event. I’ve been a few times already and watched some matches there. I would highly recommend it and encourage everyone to visit.What have you made of the spirit between different sets of fans?It’s wonderful to see all the fans mingling together and enjoying each other’s company. As an ambassador, this is what we have been working towards for so many years. Football brings everyone together.What did you make of Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Serbia in their first match?It was a wonderful result. It’s always great to start a World Cup with a victory. It’s a positive way to begin and move forward in the competition because there will be tougher games ahead.What is your prediction for Brazil’s next group match against Switzerland at Stadium 974 on Monday?It’s going to be much more difficult than the first match because now we have two teams that have both won their first matches. Switzerland showed they are a good team and Brazil will need to be ready to compete, so we will wait and see what happens.
A shirtless Lionel Messi sang and danced with teammates beyond midnight into yesterday morning after leading Argentina to an emotionally-charged win over Mexico that revived his dream of a first World Cup title.The dressing-room party scenes - Messi bouncing with both arms in the air and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez dancing on a table - showed just how much this tournament means to Argentina and their captain in his fifth and final chance to lift the trophy.Argentina have one of the most talented teams in Qatar, but they are under more pressure than most and are struggling to reproduce the free-flowing form of their three-year, 36-match unbeaten run before the tournament.So it was understandable to see their release of tension after beating Mexico 2-0 to ignite their tournament after a shock opening defeat by Saudi Arabia.Though in truth they laboured in the first half against a mediocre Mexico team, they celebrated as if they had won the World Cup itself.“It’s a weight off our shoulder,” said the 35-year-old Messi, for whom this tournament is now the be-all and end-all of his dazzling career for club and country.After scoring the first goal against Mexico, his second of Argentina’s three at the tournament, Messi charged towards fans screaming in joy. Assistant coach Pablo Aimar, who was Messi’s boyhood idol, fought back tears on the bench.‘MESSI AND MARADONAARE ONE’Argentines have sometimes struggled to warm to their little genius, in part because he has not delivered the biggest trophy of all, but also due to his shy and quiet demeanour compared to the flamboyant clowning of their beloved former golden boy Diego Maradona.Such ambivalence now seems firmly in the past, however, as Messi has shown over-and-over how committed he is to the national shirt, not least when he collapsed in tears last year after leading the team to the Copa America title to end a 28-year trophy drought.At last, there are more flags and banners with his name and face than of the late great previous No 10.Many in fact show the two together, arm-in-arm or Maradona looking beatifically down on Messi from heaven.Should Messi go all the way, he will of course directly match Maradona, who led Argentina to a famous 1986 World Cup win including his famous “Hand of God” and best-ever tournament goals against England en route.If he stumbles, however, he will stay in Maradona’s shadow but it seems he will anyway still be revered by Argentines, who have come to appreciate the passion and pain he has truly felt in the blue-and-white.“Did you see how he ran to us and celebrated with us? This is our Messi. Now he is also our Maradona. They are one!” said Argentine fan Rodrigo Castro, 34, celebrating euphorically outside the Lusail Stadium into the early hours today.Coach Lionel Scaloni was happy to see his players enjoy the moment in the dressing room but knows the weight of expectations are shackling his players. Even Messi looked slow and made basic errors prior to scoring against Mexico and relaxing into the player everyone knows.“It’s difficult to make people understand that tomorrow the sun will shine whether you lose or you win,” Scaloni said, trying to make sense of the constant circus around his team.“Happiness lasts only for some minutes.“We need to find that emotional balance, whether we win or lose.”Once the emotions die down, Scaloni must prepare for Poland in Argentina’s final group game when only a win would guarantee them passage to the knockout round and one step closer to fulfilling Messi’s dream.
Morocco ended a long wait of 24 years for a World Cup win when they stunned second-ranked Belgium 2-0 in their Group F match at Al Thumama Stadium Sunday.Ranked 22 in the world, the Atlas Lions relied on brilliant goals from Romain Saiss and substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal for their heroic win in front of a large number of Moroccan fans.Sunday's timely win was Morocco's first since they beat beat Scotland in France 1998. The Belgian side failed to net a goal in nine corner kicks.Morocco coach Walid Regregui was a thrilled man after the entertaining encounter."We played against one of the best teams in the world with big players, but we know that if you don’t give 100%, it is impossible to win. With these players and these fans, anything is possible," Regregui said Sunday.Meanwhile, riots were reported in Brussels as police battled with Belgian fans after the match. "Dozens of people, including some wearing hoodies, sought confrontation with the police, which compromised public safety," Brussels police said in a statement issued after the match.CANADA OUT AS CROATIA WIN 4-1In the other Group F match Sunday, Croatia rallied in spectacular fashion after conceding an early goal against Canada, eventually finding the net four times to register an emphatic win at Khalifa International Stadium.Alphonso Davies produced a booming snap-header to give Canada the lead in the 68th second of the match. Despite the early goal, Croatia - the 2018 runners up - remained calm to hammer four goals on way to securing a convincing win.Andrej Kramaric scored twice while Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer - who netted one in injury time - added charm to Croatia's brilliant victory.Croatia and Morocco both have four points each, with Croatia leading on goal difference, while Belgium are third with three points. Canada are out with two losses in two games.FUELLKRUG RESCUES GERMANY IN SPAIN SHOWDOWNSubstitute Niclas Fuellkrug's close range strike late in the second half rescued Germany a valuable 1-1 draw against Spain in a Group E showdown at Al Bayt Stadium Sunday, a result which left the group still wide open.Alvaro Morata beat his marker and flicked the ball in at the near post past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer following a low cross from Jordi Alba in the 62nd minute to give Spain the lead.But Fuellkrug levelled in the 83rd minute, smashing home a loose ball inside the box.COSTA RICA BREAK JAPANESE HEARTSThere was heartbreak Japanese players and fans in Doha Sunday when Costa Rica relied on a late strike by Keysher Fuller to win their Group E match at Ahmad Ali Bin Stadium. Fueller, a 28-year-old defender, scored in the 81st minute to seal Costa Rica's win.Costa Rica's hard-fought victory was achieved after a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of 2010 World Cup winners Spain last week.For Japan, who stunned 2014 World Cup champions Germany four days ago, Sunday's match was a chance to reach the round of 16 but coach Hajime Moriyasu's side faltered and failed to find the net despite dominating possession.It is all to play for in Group E with Spain leading with four points and requiring only a draw in their final game against Japan to progress. Japan and Costa Rica have three points each, while Germany have one point.
Croatia absorbed an early blow before revving into gear at the World Cup with two goals from Andrej Kramaric securing a 4-1 victory over Canada on Sunday that moved them a point away from the last 16 and dashed their opponents' knockout-stage hopes.The 2018 runners-up had fallen behind after 68 seconds at the Khalifa International Stadium when Alphonso Davies thumped a header into the net, but a potentially grim evening turned in their favour with two goals late in the first half.After their dour opening draw with Morocco had instigated a post-mortem into whether this Croatia side lacked a killer instinct, Kramaric and Marko Livaja found the net before the break to take the wind out of Canada's sails.Kramaric then doubled his tally after the break and Lovro Majer netted in stoppage time to wrap up a victory that moved Croatia to the top of Group F on four points. They now need only a draw in their final game against third-placed Belgium, who are a point behind, to guarantee a knockout spot.After two defeats, Canada's exit at the group stage was confirmed, leaving them to face Morocco, also on four points, in their final game.Canada had flown out of the blocks with the fastest goal of the tournament so far and their first in the World Cup, after drawing a blank in their only previous appearance in 1986.A long clearance from the keeper eventually found its way to Tajon Buchanan, who shaped a superb cross from the right into the box where Davies was arriving like an express train to rise high above his marker and head powerfully down into the net.Yet it was a half of two halves, as Croatia -- thoroughly outplayed in the early stages -- eventually shifted into gear.They were level in the 36th minute when Ivan Perisic, a growing influence on the left, slid the ball through to Kramaric who fired first time into the far corner.They took the lead eight minutes later when a lovely build-up from the back ended with Livaja firing right-footed low into the net from the edge of the area after being fed by Mateo Kovacic.Canada's hopes of getting back into the contest were dashed when a curling cross from Perisic on the left was controlled by Kramaric, who shifted the ball on to his left foot and dispatched it low into the bottom corner in the 70th minute.
Costa Rica put a huge dent in Japan's hopes of reaching the World Cup last 16 when they rebounded from their 7-0 hammering by Spain to claim a surprise 1-0 victory in Group E on Sunday.The door was ajar for Japan to seal their place in the knockout round after their historic opening win over Germany on the same day as Costa Rica's collapse.But Keysher Fuller's curling 81st-minute effort, Costa Rica's first shot on target in the tournament, rocked Japan and put their hopes of progression in peril.When Fuller's left-footer crept into the top of the net despite Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda's doomed attempt to keep it out, Costa Rica's players and fans erupted in delirium.There may also have been cheers of relief in the Germany camp because a Japan win would have put them under intense pressure to beat Spain in Sunday's later game.Japan oddly made five changes to their starting line-up and despite beefing up their attack with substitutions in the second half they were punished for a meek approach against shell-shocked opponents.They remain second in the group on three points but with their last game being against Spain the odds on them reaching the knockout stage for a fourth time have lengthened considerably.Costa Rica, written off as whipping boys before kickoff, snapped a seven-match winless run at the World Cup to move to three points and now have a possible route to the last 16."The less they believe in us the more they bring it out of us," Fuller said. "We were in pain after the defeat to Spain and now we have weight off our shoulders."When their manager Luis Fernando Suarez said beforehand that his side were "not dead" he was right, although it was a game that will not live long in the memories of neutral fans.A first-half of mind-numbing tedium even tested the patience of the drum-banging Japanese fans massed in their blue shirts at one end of the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.SNAIL'S PACEApart from a burst at the start of the game by Japan, the half was played at snail's pace, although for Costa Rica the lack of goalmouth action was probably welcome seeing as they conceded three times in the opening half-hour against Spain.Both goalkeepers were redundant and the only incidents that could pass as goalmouth action were a cross by Japan's Ritsu Doan that flashed across the goal and a scooped shot high over the crossbar by Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell.Japan's coach Hajime Moriyasu took off defender Yuto Nagatomo at halftime and replaced him with attacker Takuma Asano who had been left on the bench despite his winner against Germany.Immediately after the break Japan looked more lively and Hidemasa Morita finally tested Keylor Navas with a stinging left-foot drive which the Costa Rica keeper turned away.Kicking towards their fans, Japan seized control and Moriyasu made another attacking change with midfielder Kaoru Mitoma coming on for right back Miki Yamane.Japan's fans kept up a constant din as their side camped in Costa Rica's half and it seemed a matter of time before their pressure would pay off. Then the game was turned upside down.A rare Costa Rica raid ended with Fuller gathering the ball on the right of the area and curling a shot with his left foot towards the top corner.Time froze as Gonda reached up to his right to try to claw the ball out, but he could only help it into the net."The next match against Spain will be a very intense game," Moriyasu said. "We need to increase the odds for Japan."
Riding high on Kylian Mbappe’s two brilliant second-half goals, defending champions France became the first team to qualify for the Round of 16 after defeating Denmark 2-1 in Group D of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Stadium 974 Saturday.A potent French side knew a second victory in as many Group D outings would take them through to the knockout phase and they were well worth the lead that Mbappe gave them when he opened the scoring at Stadium 974 just after the hour mark.However, Andreas Christensen soon equalised for the Danes and Les Bleus needed Mbappe to produce the goods again in the 86th minute as he turned in Antoine Griezmann's cross to puncture the Danish resistance once and for all.MESSI ON TARGETSuperstar Lionel Messi was on target as Argentina bounced back from their shock loss against Saudi Arabia by beating Mexico 2-0 in a Group C encounter at Lusail Stadium Saturday.After a goalless first 45 minutes, the much-fancied Argentina found the back of the net twice in the second half. Messi opened the scoring in the 64th minute, with Enzo Fernandez extending the lead in the 87th.The victory takes Argentina to second the group after Poland, who also won Saturday, while Saudi Arabia is in third.LEWANDOWSKI BREAKS WORLD CUP DUCK, HELPS POLAND DEFEAT SAUDIRobert Lewandowski scored the first World Cup goal of his career as Poland defeated Saudi Arabia Saturday. Barcelona striker Lewandowski, who had failed to score in four previous World Cup games, netted the second in a 2-0 win in the Group C clash at Education City Stadium. It was a World Cup reality check for the Saudis, who had stunned Argentina 2-1 in their opening game. The 34-year-old capitalised on a blunder by midfielder Abdulelah al-Malki. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was the hero for Poland, however, producing a stunning double save in the first half. He first denied Salem al-Dawsari from the penalty spot, then made a stunning stop to keep out the rebound.AUSTRALIA GET FIRST CUP WIN SINCE 2010Australia defeated Tunisia 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium Saturday to register their first World Cup victory in 12 years. Striker Mitch Duke scored the only goal of a tight game with a clever header in the first half and Australia desperately held on to silence Tunisia's vociferous fans. The Socceroos sit second in Group D with three points from two games, with a game to come against Denmark. The victory, only the third for Australia in six visits to the World Cup finals, was the perfect response to their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of France on Tuesday. The victory snapped Australia's seven-match winless run at World Cups since they last picked up three points in a victory over Serbia in 2010. Australia now move to three points in the group, level with world champions France.
Lionel Messi Saturday scored a goal and delivered a slick assist for the second as Argentina beat Mexico 2-0 at Lusail Stadium.Argentina, who lost their World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia on Monday, recovered in quick fashion to post their first win of Group C in front of 88,966 fans.Making his 21st World Cup appearance for Argentina, Messi led from the front by scoring in the 64th minute before slipping in an assist to Enzo Fernandez who found the net in the 87th minute.It was a sterling effort from the two-time World Cup winners who looked sluggish and out of sorts in the first half. Argentina now have 4 wins over Mexico in World Cup history.Argentina, playing their second successive match at Lusail Stadium, looked ragged for most part of the first half. Mexico's striker Alexis Vega elbowed Argentina's Seville defender Gonzalo Monteil in the fifth minute close, a trend of rough play that was to follow numerous times in the first half.After clinching the first corner kick in the 9th minute after Hirving Lozano made a good run on Lisandro Martinez, Hector Herrera curled in a lovely free kick but none of the Mexico forwards were able to connect as the ball went wide of the goalpost to the left of Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez in 10th minutes.Five minutes later, Herrera elbowed Marcos Acuna close to the edge of the Argentina box in another round of rough play from both the sides. Two minutes later Lautaro Martinez rammed his body into Andrea Guardardo, the Mexican skipper, in an intense tussle for ball possession. Argentina's Nicolas Otamendi brought down Lozano resulting in a free kick in the 20th minute. The Argentina keeper beat Herrara to the ball on a loopy cross on the free kick.As expected, a rough bit of play saw Araujo slapped with a yellow card for a sliding tackle on Acuna. In another moment of madness, Acuna - deep on the right flank - stepped on Kevin Alvarez's shin rather forcefully forcing a stoppage in the play.Vega of Mexico brought down Argentina's Rodrigo de Paul as the referee pointed to a free kick 10 yards out from the Mexico box. Messi curled in the resultant free kick but Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa was tall enough to kill the move with ease.Angel di Maria curled in a long ball but Lautaro Martinez was off target with his snap-header in the 40th minute, the first real Argentina move. Seconds later, injured Guardado was benched as Erick Gutierrez was brought on. A yellow card was shown to Monteil for a reckless tackle on Gutierrez near the Argentina box two minutes from the first-half whistle. Vega curled in a spectacular free kick that was stopped by the Argentine keeper with a short jump to his right.
Kylian Mbappe scored twice to send champions France into the last 16 of the World Cup as they beat Denmark 2-1 in their Group D clash at the 974 Stadium on Saturday, making them first side to qualify for the knockout stage.France top the group on six points, three ahead of Australia, who beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier in the day, with the Danes and the Tunisians both on one point.France take on Tunisia and Denmark meet Socceroos in the final round on Wednesday.A tight, tense first half saw France enjoy the better chances as Adrien Rabiot went close with a header and the Danes were forced into a number of last-ditch blocks to keep their clean sheet intact.It was not to last and Mbappe put the French ahead in the 61st minute, crowning a superb high-speed French counter with a bouncing first-time finish from Theo Hernandez's clever pull-back.Always a danger from set pieces, Andreas Christensen put the Danes level seven minutes later, stealing in behind the defence and stooping to head home.Neither side seemed content with a draw and Rabiot fired a spectacular volley over in the 80th minute, and a minute later substitute Martin Braithwaite fired a first-time effort of his own just wide of the near post.The game looked set to end in a stalemate until Mbappe popped up in the 86th minute at the far post to cushion home an Antoine Griezmann cross from close range to restore the lead to send the travelling French fans into raptures.Denmark threw everything forward looking for a second equaliser, leaving acres of space at the back, but their late attacks against a side they beat twice in the recent Nations League campaign lacked precision and the French held on for the win that put them through.
Poland bolstered their chances on Saturday of reaching the World Cup's last 16 for the first time since 1986 after goals from Piotr Zielinski and Robert Lewandowski killed Saudi Arabia's efforts to advance a game early.Zielinski scored after 39 minutes against the run of play and Lewandowski put the match beyond Saudi Arabia eight minutes from time, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny's stunning double save from a penalty in first half stoppage time kept Poland in the match against a Saudi side that was always on the attack.The result leaves Poland needing only a point from their final Group C match against Mexico to guarantee their spot in the next round.Saudi Arabia were the better team for the first half and had the advantage of a few favoruable refereeing decisions but will rue the missed penalty from Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored the winner in their historic victory over Argentina on Tuesday.
A prankster, presumably with Tunisian allegiance, changed the north African country's World Cup page on Wikipedia to insert a 5-0 victory over Australia before their Group D match had even kicked off on Saturday.What the culprit failed to take into account though was a superbly drilled Australian side that defended as if their lives depended on it to preserve a priceless 1-0 victory that gives them real hope of reaching the last 16.With world champions France and Denmark favourites to progress from the group, Tunisia and Australia had targeted their clash in the Al Janoub Stadium as a must-win game.But Australia edged the tactical battle in the first half to deny Tunisia's technicians the time on the ball they required and then, in the second half as Tunisia threw caution to the wind, Graham Arnold's side withstood the siege admirably.No-one epitomised Australia's defensive grit more than 24-year-old Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, who made a sublime goal-saving sliding block before halftime and numerous crunching tackles late on as Tunisia poured forward.Australia did such a great job of stifling Tunisia's three-man forward line that their keeper Mat Ryan did not have a single save to make until well past the hour mark.But Australia's first World Cup victory in 12 years was not simply the result of a dogged rearguard action.In Aaron Mooy they had the best midfielder on the pitch, the Celtic man pulling the strings and allowing Australia to boss possession in a first half in which they made clever use of the channels against a narrowly defending Tunisian outfit.It was no surprise that Mitchell Duke's glancing header in the 23rd minute came from one of 12 crosses Australia attempted to deliver into the Tunisia box in the first half.Despite the temperature hovering around 30 degrees Celsius, Australia's energy-levels barely dipped, although they were hanging on for the final 20 minutes as Tunisia, roared on by thousands of red-clad fans, laid siege to the goal."I'm hugely proud of the boys. They showed Aussie fighting spirit. They were in their faces all the time and I'm sure they made the nation very proud."With three points and Denmark to come, Arnold's team can dream of reaching the last 16. For Tunisia, who did well to forge an opening 0-0 draw with Denmark, they will need to beat France to stand any chance of progressing.In their last 10 games Tunisia's defence had only been breached by Brazil, but unless goal-scoring opportunities can be converted, any side's World Cup campaign is doomed to failure.The 32-year-old striker Youssef Msakni, who has waited so long for his World Cup chance, will wonder how he did not score just before the break, steering a close-range shot wide.Defeat means Tunisia have still only won two World Cup games and questions will surely be asked as to why coach Jalel Kadri opted not to give the country's second-highest goalscorer Wahbi Khazri more game time here in Qatar.He was an unused substitute in the first match against Denmark and did not enter the fray on Saturday until the 67th minute when he replaced Aissa Laidounias.By that stage Tunisia were desperately seeking a way through the massed Australian ranks, even lumping long balls forward.Khazri's moment appeared to arrive late on when he connected with a low cross in from the right, but his shot flew straight at Ryan, summing up Tunisia's day."Australia were physically strong but we can't say we played a bad game," coach Kadri said. "We just weren't efficient."
Frenchmen Gabriel Martin and Mehdi Balamissa arrived in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup after a ‘life-changing’ 7,000km cycle ride from Paris to Doha.It took the duo three months to ride from the Stade de France to Lusail Stadium – where they hope France will retain the World Cup on 18 December.Speaking on their arrival in Lusail just days before the tournament, Martin said: “It’s amazing to be here outside Lusail Stadium, where we hope France will win the World Cup for the third time – after claiming their first title at the Stade de France in 1998. It’s been a life-changing journey that took us to some amazing places like Istanbul, Petra and Jerusalem.”Martin, a content producer, said: “It was not an easy journey. We faced many mechanical issues with our bicycles and had to battle injury and fatigue – but those hardships made completing the journey even more special.”The pair came up with the idea to ride to Doha after travelling from France to Italy for a UEFA Nations League match last year. Encouraged by their experience, the duo made it their goal to ride all the way to Qatar for the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. Documentary filmmaker Balamissa said: “We love football – and we also love riding our bicycles. We know they offer a great way to travel because you can cover great distances and take your time to enjoy your surroundings. It was a long trip – but thanks to the strength of our legs, we created memories that will last a lifetime.”Riding over mountains in Turkey and across the Arabian desert were particularly memorable, said Balamissa.“We were pedalling for four weeks in the desert and it was completely fascinating. Just listening to myself describe the journey sounds unbelievable – but the welcome and hospitality we experienced along the way made it worthwhile. It has been mind-blowing.”Martin and Balamissa are the latest intrepid adventurers to complete extreme journeys to Qatar for the World Cup. Saudi adventurer Abdullah Al Salmi walked 1,600km from Jeddah to Doha in 55 days while Argentinean quartet – Lucas Ledezma, Leandro Pighi, Silvio Gatti and Matias Vercesi – cycled to Qatar from South Africa, a journey of 10,000km in 177 days.“Even though we knew Doha and the World Cup were our final destination, we refused to get excited until we crossed the border,” said Balamissa. “We knew the journey would be difficult – but this amazing reception is very emotional for us.”France got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a 4-1 win against Australia at Al Janoub Stadium. They will play their second Group D fixture against Denmark today at Stadium 974, followed by a match against Tunisia on 30 November at Education City Stadium.Fans interested in attending Qatar 2022 should click here for the latest tickets, accommodation and Hayya Card information.
The captain of the Qatari national football team, Hassan Khalid Hassan al-Haydos, apologised to the Arab and Qatari people over Qatar's 1-3 loss to Senegal on Friday in their Group A second round match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.After the end of Friday's match, al-Haydos said the Qatari team wasted 90 minutes in the first match, where the team did not appear at the level that was anticipated. Qatar had lost the first match against Ecuador 0-2. In the second match, the team performed well but unfortunately mistakes were recurrent and the team paid a heavy price, he said.He noted that the team fell behind at the end of the first half and then conceded another goal at the beginning of the second half. After that, Qatar pressed and created chances, eventually scoring a goal to reduce the margin. However, the need to step up and attack cost them as Senegal scored the third goal.Al-Haydos said the players did not fail, noting that they produced a superb match and made a great effort. However, he apologised to fans for the loss, wishing to put up a better performance in the last match against the Netherlands and in the future as well.Commenting on whether the preparatory training camp might have negatively affected the team's appearance in the tournament, al-Haydos said he does not think so as the team was ready across all aspects, whether physically or technically, and played many matches. He added that the team was under heavy pressure after the first match of the World Cup where it did not perform as per expectations, and looked to compensate in the second game, adding that all players were in full readiness.
Qatar lost to Senegal 1-3 to make an early exit from the FIFA World Cup 2022, while Iran scored two stoppage-time goals to beat Wales Friday and keep their last-16 chances alive.Qatar needed to bounce back at Al Thumama Stadium after their loss to Ecuador in the tournament opener, but the Al Annabi went down to Senegal despite fighting back in the second half.Mohamed Muntari became the first-ever Qatar player to score at the World Cup but that wasn’t enough to stop them from becoming only the second home team to crash out in the group stage, after South Africa in 2010. Goals from Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng were enough to give African champions Senegal the win."We would like to say we're very sorry to the supporters, to the country," said Qatar defender Tarek Salman, who was a second-half substitute. "We have made them feel bad about losing two games in a row in the World Cup."Qatar take on the Netherlands in the final group game at the Al Bayt Stadium on November 29.* THRILLING VICTORY FOR IRANEarlier at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Iran scored a thrilling last-gasp win over Wales. The Iranians were worthy winners against a team reduced to 10 men late in the match. Iran, who would have been eliminated if they had lost, punished Gareth Bale's Wales in the eighth minute of injury time when substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi smashed home.The Iranians sent their thousands of fans at stadium wild when Ramin Rezaeian clipped in a second goal on the counter-attack. There were emotional scenes as Iran's players and staff, including their Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, embraced on the pitch and took in the acclaim of their supporters.Mehdi Taremi, the team's star striker, paid tribute to Iran's fans. "Thank you to our supporters, they helped us all the time," said Taremi, who was cut down by Wayne Hennessey when the goalkeeper came haring out of his goal.Hennessey was sent off in the 86th minute, earning the first red card of the World Cup following a VAR review. "We need those supporters to support us like always," added Taremi, whose side will reach the last 16 if they win against the United States on Tuesday.* ECUADOR, NETHERLANDS IN 1-1 DRAWEcuador's "Superman" captain Enner Valencia led a feisty fightback Friday as the South Americans drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in Group A to keep both teams in the running for the last 16 while ending hosts Qatar's chances of qualifying.Valencia, 33, tapped in his third goal of the tournament from a rebound in the second half after Cody Gakpo had put the Dutch ahead in the sixth minute with a sizzling shot in a result that advanced both sides to four points.The Dutch will qualify for the last 16 by avoiding defeat to Qatar. Senegal must beat Ecuador to advance to the knockout phase from Group A.* ENGLAND, USA IN GOALLESS STALEMATEIn a late night match at Al Bayt Stadium, England were held to a frustrating goalless draw by the USA. A victory in the Group B clash would have secured England a place in the last 16. A youthful USA side outplayed England but were left to rue a flurry of missed chances and poor finishing in both halves after having to settle for a 0-0 draw.
A youthful United States side outplayed England in their World Cup Group B battle but were left to rue a flurry of missed chances and poor finishing in both halves after having to settle for a 0-0 draw at the Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.England, unchanged from Monday's 6-2 win over Iran, could have sealed their place in the knockout phase with a win but were careless in possession and struggled to dominate the Americans, who steadily grew in confidence.Tim Weah set up Weston McKennie with a measured cross but the midfielder blazed his effort over before Christian Pulisic's powerful strike beat goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but crashed off the crossbar in a lively first-half display from the Americans.The closest England came to breaking the deadlock was on the stroke of halftime when U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner denied Mason Mount, while captain Harry Kane endured a frustrating evening up front as Gareth Southgate's side laboured to earn a share of the spoils.
Donning a t-shirt with the words ‘Stadium Hopping Day - Watching 4 Matches’ printed in bold, a longtime resident of Qatar watched four football matches of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in a single day, highlighting the advantages of a compact tournament. The feat was achieved by John Desa last Wednesday, November 23.Asked about the unique accomplishment and whether it qualifies for a Guinness World Record, Desa told Gulf Times: “I don’t know whether it is a Guinness World Record or not, but I always wanted to attend World Cup matches but that did not materialise until Qatar hosted the World Cup. I just wanted to make it special and the compact nature of the Qatar 2022 World Cup helped me realise it.”Desa has been in Qatar for the last 37 years. He works for QatarEnergy and is the secretary for football, hockey and carrom at the Indian Sports Centre, which is under the aegis of the Indian embassy. He is also known as an active sportsman and a social activist. According to Desa, he had made some preparations to go about his mission. “Being a longtime resident of the country helped me as I am familiar with the locations and roads. I visited the stadiums well in advance to understand the available parking slots and the easiest way to enter and exit the stadiums. My only worry was the possibility of a traffic jam in between, especially while coming back from Al Bayt Stadium. But I was fortunate to reach the stadium well on time for the 4pm match,” he explained.“It took me over 15 hours to complete the whole hopping mission. I avoided the designated parking facilities and parked my car a bit far away and walked to the stadiums. This way, I could avoid any delay at the parking facilities but had to walk more. It helped me realise my dream and reach all the four stadiums and watch all the matches in a single day,” he explained.Desa did not opt for any shorter route but took the longest one, starting from Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. He started with the 1pm match at Al Bayt Stadium where Croatia and Morocco played out a goalless draw, before heading to Khalifa International Stadium for the 4pm match to watch Japan stun Germany 2-1. After that, he drove to Al Thumama Stadium to watch Spain put seven goals past Costa Rica and then headed to Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium for the match between Belgium and Canada, which the former won 1-0.Desa said he would move to the exit of the stadium a few minutes before every match ended and would rush out before all others, forgoing the added-on time in most cases. “Then I would dart towards my car, parked far away from the stadium, and 'jumpstart' to my next destination. My drive from Al Bayt to Khalifa International Stadium was the longest and I barely managed to reach the stadium before the match. However, I could reach the other two stadiums well on time,” he recalled.Desa also pointed out that he deliberately took the longest route to highlight the compactness of the tournament. “At any other World Cup, the matches are played in different cities and to attend all the matches of a day is unthinkable. The compact nature of the Qatar World Cup is a great boon for football enthusiasts to attend more matches on the same day," he added.
Ecuador's "Superman" captain Enner Valencia led a feisty fightback on Friday as the South Americans drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in Group A to keep both teams in pole position for reaching the last 16 while ending Qatar's chances of qualifying.Valencia, 33, tapped in his third goal of the tournament from a rebound in the second half after Cody Gakpo had put the Dutch ahead in the sixth minute with a sizzling shot in a result that advanced both sides to four points.Hosts Qatar lost their second successive game at their debut World Cup earlier on Friday to Senegal. The African champions are third in Group A with Ecuador to come in Tuesday's final group games.Ecuador had a subdued first half as Louis van Gaal's side looked comfortable but unhurried. But the South Americans, roared on by a large yellow-clad contingent at the Khalifa International Stadium, stepped up a gear in the second half and could have won it when Gonzalo Plata's strike hit the crossbar.