For the first time since 1978, Mexico will not participate in sports at the highest level of the sport.
A valiant but unsuccessful 2-1 effort against Saudi Arabia saw El Tri finish third in Group C, pipping Argentina and Poland to the round of 16.
However, Poland did not end their group stage campaign on a particularly high note. Their promotion was in jeopardy with a 2-0 defeat to Argentina, if Mexico could pull off an unbeaten win.
The Poles aren’t the only ones somewhat conflicted about their result on Wednesday. Defending World Cup champions France, despite fielding a mixed starting lineup, lost a bit of steam with a 1-0 loss to Tunisia.
Australian soccer fans watched the Socceroos advance for just the second time in the tournament’s history thanks to a second-half goal from Melbourne native Matthew Leckie, who knocked Denmark out of the Round of 16 picture.
Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s World Cup results:
Mexico 2, Saudi Arabia 1
(Henry Martín 47′, Luis Chávez 52′) – (Saleem Aldawsari 90’+5)
For all the world, it looked like Mexico was ready to put itself in the driver’s seat and pull an incredible hand to advance. El Tri needed some help from Argentina’s goal against Poland, and they got it but failed to land.
The fate of Mexico and Poland was ultimately decided by goal difference, they finished 0 and -1 respectively, and the clincher that condemned Mexico came at the 11th hour.
El Tri fans will all fly home thinking the same thing – it took too long for those men to find the goals. The pressure was on, and Henry Martín and Luis Chávez opened Mexico’s 2022 World Cup scoring tally too late.
Still, the opportunity to capitalize was there but it wasn’t meant to be for El Tri, who will have to let go of some near misses (and questionable offside calls) as they join Canada as Concacaf’s latest collapse.
Argentina 2, Poland 0
(Alexis McAllister 46′, Julian Alvarez 67′)
The Poles advanced, but not thanks to their efforts on Wednesday.
Polish fans were watching the Mexico-Saudi Arabia match simultaneously and probably felt an early trip home in respect to their side’s performance. Poland played fair game but really should have done more to help their cause.
In fact, he was so busy that it was just one of his nine saves on the evening. Argentina were clearly the best team in the group, but missing shots created a 23-4 battle, and a 73%-27 possession battle could spell trouble if the Poles want to push it further than the Round of 16.
Australia 1, Denmark 0
(Matthew Leckie 60′)
Australia booked their place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup last 16 on Wednesday with the Socceroos eliminating Denmark in the process.
Matthew Leckie’s second-half goal, which was matched by Mathew Ryan’s neat finish, helped Australia to a 1-0 win in Group D action. It was only the second time in Australia’s history that he would be in the Round of 16.
Ryan’s first significant involvement came in the 19th minute when the veteran goalkeeper kept Harry Souttar’s conversion away from goal. Joakim Maehle’s cross forced Souttar out of the net, but he saved a goal thanks to Ryan’s strike.
Matthew Leckie scored the lead for Australia in the 60th minute after beating Maehle and Kasper Schmeichel for a superb solo effort. Riley McGree’s pass allowed Leckie to race in before calling his own number for the finish.
Andreas Cornelius’ header in stoppage time was Denmark’s last chance to equalise, but his effort hit Ryan’s net, condemning the Danes to elimination.
Australia will face the winner of Group C with France taking second place.
Tunisia 1, France 0
(Vehbi Khazri 58′)
Tunisia may be heading home to Qatar, but the African side are leaving on a positive note after beating group winners France 1-0.
Wehbi Khazri scored the only goal for Tunisia and Eymen Dahmen made three saves in the goal-scoring victory. France rotated many of their starters in the tournament after suffering a losing streak earlier in the tournament.
Steve Mandanda made two saves for France in the first half, keeping Tunisia’s attack at bay. Ben Slimane and Khazri both had efforts denied by the veteran shot as the sides went level at half-time.
Khazri was beaten by two French defenders in the 58th minute before curling a shot past Mandanda and into the far corner of his net. Aissa Laidouni was credited with the assist after sending the veteran striker up with a pass.
Ousmane Dembele was twice denied by Dahmen later in the half before Kylian Mbappe was also denied by the 25-year-old. Tunisia held on for a historic win over Les Bleus as France now prepare to enter the Round of 16.