Sunday, February 5 2023

It’s time to start looking ahead to the FIFA World Cup knockout round.

Continuing the second phase of group stage games, defending champion France are looking to remain steady against Denmark. Meanwhile, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is still searching for his first World Cup goal after being denied by Guillermo Ochoa in the opening game. But he faces favorite underdogs, Saudi Arabia.

Argentina wraps up Day 7, viewing their match against Mexico as a “final.” Will Lionel Messi fall short of a World Cup trophy early in what’s likely his final tournament?

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Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts disappointed during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts disappointed during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina’s Lionel Messi reacts disappointed during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Full time: Poland 2, Saudi Arabia 0

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

Lewandowski nets first World Cup goal

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


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Just missed

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

Saves keep coming for Szczęsny

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

Second half underway

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

Big save

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

Breakthrough

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.


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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

Risky business

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

Getting an early feel

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

Design your own World Cup kit

Fond of the classic look of Croatia’s kits? Captivated by the statement of the Danish look? Or think you could make a better U.S. jersey? Twist, rotate and zoom your player while you put your stamp on the 2022 kit and share with friends.

Lineups for Poland-Saudi Arabia

Poland and Saudi Arabia are next.


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Feeling the excitement

Saudi Arabia soccer fans are on top of the world in the aftermath of beating World Cup favorite Argentina.Saudi Arabia soccer fans are on top of the world in the aftermath of beating World Cup favorite Argentina.
Saudi Arabia soccer fans are on top of the world in the aftermath of beating World Cup favorite Argentina.

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

Full time: Australia 1, Tunisia 0

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.


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Tunisia vs. Australia — 5 a.m.

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)

Poland vs. Saudi Arabia — 8 a.m.

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)

France vs. Denmark — 11 a.m.

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)

Argentina vs. Mexico — 2 p.m.

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)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Cup updates: Lionel Messi, Argentina seek to avoid disaster

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