Saturday World Cup recap: Argentina escapes elimination with win … – USA TODAY

It’s time to start looking ahead to the FIFA World Cup knockout round.
Australia began Day 7 with a 1-0 victory over Tunisia in Group D play. The Aussies earned three points and sit squarely in second place. 
Poland continued their strong play with a big 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored his first World Cup goal as Poland moved into first place in Group C. 
France superstar Kylian Mbappé added to his World Cup legacy against Denmark. He scored two goals to propel France into the Round of 16. He now has seven World Cup goals in his career. 
Argentina wrapped up Day 7 with a victory over Mexico featuring a goal from Lionel Messi. La Albiceleste survives to play for a chance to reach the Round of 16.
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Argentina lives on another day as they beat Mexico 2-0. Both of their goals came in the second half as Lionel Messi scored his eighth career World Cup goal and 21-year-old Enzo Fernández netted his first career score on the big stage.
Argentina faces Poland and Mexico takes on Saudi Arabia, who upset Messi and company in the Group C opener and put Argentina’s back against the wall in this game. Both matches are Wednesday.
Group C standings:
Enzo Fernández gave Argentina a 2-0 lead in the 87th minute. The 21-year-old struck across the body with his right foot to hit the right corner of the net. Lionel Messi hugged him in celebration as he scored his first career goal for La Albiceleste.
The Argentina-Mexico game has been electric since kickoff. The FS1 broadcast announced an attendance of 88,966, a sold out crowd at Lusail Stadium. Fans of both teams have been chanting throughout the game and there was an extra boost of energy after Lionel Messi scored a goal in the 64th minute.
After missing a penalty kick earlier in the half, Lionel Messi showed he wasn’t giving up as he took a pass from Ángel Di María in the 64th minute and scored the first goal of the game. The ball landed in the right corner of the net just outside the reach of Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. It’s his eighth World Cup goal.
Lionel Messi was granted a penalty kick in the 50th minute, after Mexico’s Érick Gutiérrez was handed a yellow card. The Argentinian star missed the shot when he kicked the ball over the net. The game remains tied at zero apiece.
In what’s basically an elimination game for Argentina, they have not scored yet in the first half, but they’ve also held Mexico without a goal. It’s been a physical matchup on the pitch with 16 total fouls and two big saves, one from each goalkeeper.
Mexico’s Alexis Vega attempted a penalty kick in the 45th minute, but Emiliano Martínez leaped across the goal to make the save and keep the game scoreless.
After his heroic save against Poland, Guillermo Ochoa didn’t miss a beat as he stopped Lionel Messi’s corner kick in the 33rd minute. He punched the ball away under the goal post and then ran into a group of players to bat the ball away again. He fell to the pitch in pain, but quickly recovered.
Both Argentina and Mexico have been called offside in the first half of their Group C matchup.
In the 25th minute, Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel was caught offside while attempting to receive a through ball near the net from Rodrigo De Paul.
In the 30th minute, Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa tossed the ball down the pitch, but Hirving Lozano ran too far and was called offside.
The offside rule has been a source of innumerable controversial calls in soccer, in large part because they were left completely to the whims of human error.
FIFA only began allowing World Cup officials the ability to review video replays to confirm calls in 2018. This year it’s rolling out a new semi-automated, offside technology to enhance its Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Mexico’s veteran midfielder Andrés Guardado took the pitch Saturday against Argentina for his fifth World Cup appearance. After not playing in El Tri’s opening draw against Poland, Guardado becomes the third Mexican player and sixth ever to play in five World Cups, including his current opponent Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The starting lineups are set between Argentina and Mexico. Argentina will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Mexico will counter with a 3-5-2 look in this crucial Group C matchup. 
Could this be the “final” World Cup for Argentina star Lionel Messi? A lot is on the line as Argentina needs a win to stay alive in the 2022 World Cup. 
Argentina has never lost its first two games of a World Cup. Messi is on a five-game scoring streak and will be needed tonight. Mexico has never beaten Argentina in World Cup play. 
France won their sixth consecutive World Cup match against Denmark. Kylian Mbappé dazzled with a pair of clutch goals. He now has seven goals in his World Cup career. 
Denmark made a late surge in the second half. Andreas Christensen had the lone goal, but it wasn’t enough to overcome France. 
Kylian Mbappé continues to build his superstar legacy. In the 86th minute, Mbappé electrified the crowd with his second goal of the game. He took advantage of a nice cross from teammate Rasmus Kristensen put the shot into the net. 
Denmark responded to France’s goal with one of their own. In the 68th minute, Andreas Christensen re-directed a header into the net. He got a nice pass from teammate Joachim Andersen off a corner kick. He drilled the shot pass France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to tie the game at 1-1. 
There’ll be no record for Olivier Giroud tonight. Giroud was substituted in the 63rd minute against Denmark on Saturday, leaving him tied with Thierry Henry at 51 goals scored for France. He’ll get another chance Wednesday, when France closes out Group D play against Tunisia — Nancy Armour
France superstar Kylian Mbappé scores in the 61st minute. He received a touch pass from Theo Hernandez and drilled a shot passed Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. 
Denmark now trails for the first time in the 2022 World Cup. 
France dominated the game pace in the first half. The French took 13 shots and held the ball for 49% of the time. There were some close calls, but Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel held his own with strong play. 
Despite the scoreless play, there have been some pretty cool moments. Denmark defender Rasmus Kristensen pulled out a little trickery as he dribbled past French defender Theo Hernandez in the 37th minute. 
Jules Koundé gets a yellow card in the 43rd minute. Denmark challenges France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as Christian Eriksen missed a shot attempt wide left. 
Demark has two shot attempts in the first half. 
France continues to attack within the 18-yard box. They have attempted 11 shots, including three shots on goal. Demark has been on the defensive for most of the first half. They have challenged France with just one shot attempt. 
In the 20th minute, Andreas Christensen draws a yellow card after stopping Kylian Mbappé sprinting down the field. The foul set up France for their best goal scoring attempt. 
French standout Adrien Rabiot nailed a header towards the center of the net. However, Demark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel came up with a crucial save. 
France looks to win their sixth consecutive World Cup game. They would join Spain as the latest team to reach the accomplishment. Spain won six games in a row during the 2010 World Cup. 
Demark has recorded a draw in four consecutive World Cup games. Both teams will meet for the fourth time in World Cup play. All the previous meetings have been in group play. 
Day 7 continues with France-Denmark ready to compete in Group D play. Here are the starting lineups for tonight’s game. French standout Theo Hernandez steps into a big role as he replaces his brother, Lucas, in the starting unit. 
Lucas Hernandez is expected to miss the remainder of the World Cup tournament with an ACL injury. 
A really entertaining game with chances at both ends. Szczęsny really was the difference, making some crucial saves for Poland — particularly his double save from the spot — to give the likes of Zieliński and Lewandowski the chance to score the goals. Poland takes a huge step toward the last 16 while the Saudis come back to earth after their massive upset over Argentina. — Seth Vertelney
Robert Lewandowski finally has his first World Cup goal, pushing Poland to a 2-0 lead and closer to three points.
Saudi Arabia will need to commit players forward in order to rally. — Seth Vertelney
Saudi Arabia nearly hit the equalizer, then Poland nearly extended its lead. Alas its still 1-0 in Poland’s favor.
Really nice passing by Saudi Arabia in tight areas leads to a shot for Albrikan, who blazes his shot over from close range. 
Then, with basically Poland’s first chance of the half, Milik crashes a header from close range off the crossbar.
Poland went off the post again moments later as Lewandowski flashed across the near post, his shot going off his own knee and then into the post. So close to Poland’s second and the striker’s first ever World Cup goal. — Seth Vertelney
Another huge Szczęsny save after a scramble in front of goal falls to the feet of Aldawsari. But just like he did on the penalty, the Polish goalkeeper produces a great save on Aldawsari to keep it 1-0. — Seth Vertelney
Saudi Arabia-Poland resume in an even affair that Poland leads through some real quality on both ends of the field, particularly Szczęsny’s incredible double save off a penalty. — Seth Vertelney
After a VAR review, the referee determines that Bielik kicked Alshehri’s leg, sending the Saudi striker to the ground.
Szczęsny then went down low to his right to deny Aldawsari from the spot. The goalkeeper got up on his feet quickly and then made an even better save on the rebound. Incredible stuff from the Polish shot-stopper to keep his side in front. — Seth Vertelney
Goal for Poland! Piotr Zieliński opens the scoring to give his side a 1-0 lead.
It was a great move by Poland down the right flank with Lewandowski showing great composure after a low cross from Matty Cash, lifting the ball over the goalkeeper, tracking it down, keeping it in play and pulling it back to find Zieliński, who slammed it home from close range.
Moments before Ali Albulayhi exhibited some really good defense by shielding off Robert Lewandowski and drawing a foul in his box. Lewandowski appeared to have accidentally stepped on the defender’s arm in the process. After getting some treatment, Albulayhi returned to the game. — Seth Vertelney
Potentially big moment as Poland right back Matty Cash, already on a yellow card, clatters into Mohammed Al Burayk during an aerial challenge. Risky move by Cash but he gets away with it amid protests from Saudi players.
Poland nearly had the opening goal, but Saudi striker Saleh Alshehri was in the right place to clear a goal-bound header from Krystian Bielik off a corner kick. — Seth Vertelney
It’s been a lively start to Saudi Arabia-Poland with Saudi Arabia threatening early and both teams generating some positive attacking sequences.
Mohamed Kanno’s powerful strike is well tipped over by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
The Saudis have a real home-field advantage in this one, with thousands of fans having traveled over the border to Qatar to create a hostile environment for Poland. — Seth Vertelney
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Poland and Saudi Arabia are next.
The Saudi Arabia fans are out in force again Saturday, hoping their team can pull off another upset.
Saudi Arabia had the shock of the World Cup so far, beating Lionel Messi and tournament favorite Argentina. At a mall next to Khalifa Stadium, there numerous fans with Saudi flags wrapped around their shoulders and wearing jerseys. Several young fans even wore green-and-white wigs. Their delight in their team is well-earned. The win over Argentina was just their fourth-ever at the World Cup. — Nancy Armour
The Socceroos made an early header by Mitchell Duke hold up and pocketed their first three points of this World Cup.
Australia was playing for its World Cup life after losing its opener to France. Tunisia, which ended in a draw against Denmark to start the tournament, is still alive in Group D but faces 2018 World Cup champion France on Wednesday.
As one of four Arab teams in the first World Cup in the Middle East, Tunisia looks to build off the home-field advantage they felt against Denmark. Tunisia is looking to advance to the knockout stage for the first time in its sixth World Cup appearance. 
Meanwhile, Australia is looking for its third World Cup victory in 18 games. 
Time: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 5 a.m. ET
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
Can Saudi Arabia shock the world again? Coach Herve Renard is being realistic after his side completed a stunning comeback win against Argentina. 
“Nothing has changed. We are still the lowest team in the group in terms of ranking and experience,” coach Herve Renard said. “The only good thing at the end of this stage is to finish number one or two.”
On the other side, Poland is looking to Robert Lewandowski for answers. After being denied by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa on a penalty, the Polish striker has not scored in four World Cup appearances. 
Time: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 a.m. ET
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
Defending champions France got their statement win against Australia after conceding the opening goal. But at what cost? With Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and Karim Benzema already out injured, Les Bleus lost defender Lucas Hernandez who injured his ACL against the Socceroos.
In the fourth World Cup meeting between France and Denmark, Christian Eriksen will have to step up again for the Danes. 
Time: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. ET
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
The loss to Saudi Arabia left Argentina searching for answers. 
“It could define our faith in this World Cup,” Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez. “We need to stay calm, recover and think about what’s coming. What’s coming is Mexico, so we have to focus on getting the win no matter what.”
Mexico meanwhile, is hoping to keep its knockout stage streak going, having advanced in the past eight World Cups. 
Time: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m. ET
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)


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