World Cup Daily: Argentina advance to knockout rounds

Author
Jason Pine,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 27 June 2018, 11:00AM
Players of Argentina celebrate after a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Photo/Getty Images)
Players of Argentina celebrate after a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Photo/Getty Images)

What happened overnight?
Staring the embarrassment of group stage elimination in the face, Argentina scored an 86th minute winner through Marcos Rojo to beat Nigeria 2-1 and advance to the knockout rounds.

The South Americans join Group D winners Croatia in the round-of-16 after their 2-1 defeat of Iceland saw them progress with a perfect record.

Australia's World Cup campaign came to an end, going down 2-0 to Peru who climbed above the Socceroos to finish third in Group C.

France and Denmark played out the tournament's first 0-0 draw to both advance to the round of 16.

Heroes
When Argentina needed him most, Lionel Messi delivered.

Facing elimination after two insipid performances, the little maestro dragged his football-mad nation off the canvas with a sublime opening goal, controlling a pass on his left thigh at full tilt, touching it into space and then planting a right-footed finish past the advancing goalkeeper.

In the process, he became the first player ever to score a World Cup goal in his teens, his 20’s, and his 30’s. This isn't a great Argentinean side, but they still contain one of the world's greatest ever players.

And having been kept scoreless in their first two games of their return to the World Cup after a 36-year absence, André Carrillo finally scored Peru's first goal of the tournament, becoming the first Peruvian to score at a World Cup since Guillermo la Rosa against Poland on 22 June 1982, which was 14,625 days ago.

Villains
This World Cup has contained some enthralling contests. Unfortunately France vs. Denmark wasn't one of them.

Knowing a draw would see them both advance, the European neighbours played out a lethargic, listless, and largely forgettable goalless bore.

In his 68 minutes on the pitch, French star Antoine Griezmann didn't complete a single pass to his strike partner Olivier Giroud. There were just four shots from inside the box, the fewest in any game so far. Even the fans, secure in the knowledge their sides would both progress, jeered the lack of intensity and effort.

If you've recorded this one to watch later, delete it immediately.

Stat chat
Lionel Messi's goal for Argentina was the 100th of the 2018 World Cup.

When he came off the bench early in the second half, Tim Cahill became the first Australian to appear at four different World Cups.

Kasper Schmeichel (two in three games) has now kept more clean sheets for Denmark at the World Cup than his father Peter (one in five games).

The average age of Argentina’s starting eleven was 30 years and 189 days; their oldest ever for a World Cup game.

Australia haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their 13 matches at the last four World Cups.

They said what?
Australia coach Bert van Marwijk: “We played much better than our opponent. They shot two times on the goal and were very lucky. The first goal was offside.”

Denmark coach Age Hareide: “We just needed a point and were up against one of the best counter-attacking teams in the world, so we would have been stupid to come out and attack. We're very pleased with the 0-0.”

Did you know?
This was the first ever meeting between Australia and Peru and Australia's 100th different international opponent.

And Peru have met the eventual champions in every World Cup they've played in (Uruguay 1930, Brazil 1970, Argentina 1978, Italy 1982). A good omen for France or Denmark perhaps?

The playoff picture
The first four round-of-16 match-ups have now been confirmed.

France will meet Argentina in the first knockout match at 2am on Sunday morning (NZT), followed by Uruguay against Portugal at 6am.

On Monday morning at 2am, Spain clash with Russia, while Denmark play Croatia at 6am.

What’s next?
The final games in Groups E and F are played tomorrow morning.

In Group F at 2am, all four teams remain in contention for the knockout rounds. Mexico will go through if they beat or draw with Sweden. If the Swedes win, they could knock Germany out, depending on the result of their clash with South Korea. The Asian nation are still in the hunt, but they need to beat the Germans and hope Sweden lose by a wide margin.

In the 6am games, the winner of the Brazil v Serbia game will advance, as will Switzerland if they beat already eliminated Costa Rica. A draw would also be enough for Brazil to go through.

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