Both Australia and Tunisia pulled off upsets on the final matchday of Group D, beating Denmark and France respectively but it was the Socceroos that advanced with France into the knockout stages.
AUSTRALIA 1, DENMARK 0
The @Socceroos qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup knockout stages for the second time in men's national team history!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 30, 2022
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For the first time since 2006, Australia will be in the Round of 16 thanks to Mathew Leckie’s winner on the hour mark over Denmark.
Leckie finished off a solo run, crossing over multiple times before taking a left footing shot, nutmegging his defender to see a rolling shot find the far post netting past Kasper Schmeichel.
Australia was out possessed nearly 70-30% and put four of their eight shots on target compared to just three of thirteen for the Danes. Australia’s two 1-0 victories combined for a total of about 1.0 xG to make their first knockout appearance since a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Italy in the 2006 edition.
Australia will face Group C winners Argentina on Saturday, December 3rd at 2pm EDT on FOX.
TUNISIA 1, FRANCE 0
The Defending FIFA World Cup Champions have now won their group for the third consecutive FIFA World Cup— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 30, 2022
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Tunisia came into their final match needing a famous win over France, and while they did get all they could it was not enough as they finished in third place.
But the Eagles of Carthage almost had an opener in the 7th minute, when Nader Ghandri flicked on a Wahbi Khazri free kick past Steve Mandanda in the French goal, only to have the assistant’s flag raise and VAR confirm that Ghandri was a half step offside.
Tunisia again created a chance off a bad pass turnover in France’s own defensive third, but Anis Ben Slimane’s shot was well saved by Mandanda.
Khazri however would take his chance just before the hour mark, fighting though traffic and sliding a shot just past his marker (and a heavy challenge) and an outstretched Mandanda to find the far side netting.
Late drama saw a stoppage time equalizer from Antoine Griezmann ruled out after VAR review, as Griezmann was the first to play a half clearance from Tunisia but had started the play in an offside position. France have protested to FIFA about the result, stating the goal should have stood as the VAR protocol was not followed.
It must be said that this is an incredibly disappointing showing from Denmark, who had come into the World Cup in great form yet see themselves exit with just one point from three games. Heartbreaking for Tunisia who did everything they could and in a different year, four points from such a difficult group would be enough. But full credit to Australia who didn’t give up after an opening defeat to France to win their next two games.
Defending champions France claim the top of the group despite their loss on the final day, and will face Group C runner-ups Poland on Sunday, December 4th at 10am EDT on FS1.