Four World Cup knockout stage matches have been played so far. But first, let’s look at what’s happened so far.
Argentina vs. Australia
Despite all of his successes—and there are many—Lionel Messi has never scored a goal in an elimination match during a World Cup.
Now that he has, helped Argentina defeat Australia 2-1 on Saturday night with a goal in the first half, Messi still has a chance to make history by being the first player ever to lift the World Cup trophy.
Of course, a title is still a ways off. However, it still appears feasible if you squint your eyes as Messi did on Saturday night at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium as he sped past the Australian defense. For 90 minutes, Messi, 35, resembled the Messi who demolished club competition across Europe for decades and made his World Cup debut at age 18.
As a result of its victory, Argentina will play the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals. Then, if Argentina and one of those other teams can get to the final, they may face Brazil, France, Spain, or England.
Argentina’s Messi and the first-half possession of the ball calmly probed the Australian defense, searching for any creases. Messi can exploit any defender thanks to his cunning and cunning, allowing him to wander freely over the field.
Midfielder Alexis Mac Allister of Argentina passed to Nicolás Otamendi in the penalty area toward the end of the first half. Otamendi skillfully stopped and passed the ball to Messi in a smooth give-and-go. Messi took one dribble before firing a shot through the legs of an Australian defender and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Messi ran to a field corner surrounded by teammates in a circle as he threw out his arms to celebrate the goal. The stands, occupied mainly by Argentinean jerseys with blue and white stripes, shook back and forth.
Messi, who has been in every World Cup since 2006, now has nine goals in 23 games, but this was his first goal in a knockout stage.
The second goal was crucial, which came in the 77th minute and was scored by Australian striker Craig Goodwin after rebounding off midfielder Enzo Fernández.
Australia increased its offensive to tie the match and make history by moving on to the quarterfinals. Aziz Behich dribbled by Argentina’s opponents in the 81st minute, but his close-range attempt was stopped.
During extra time, Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martnez stopped Australian attacker Garang Kuol’s free-flowing effort. Then, Messi was relieved up the field as his teammates jumped on top of him to celebrate.
France vs. Poland
Following their 3-1 victory over Poland on Sunday at Al Thumama Stadium, France has advanced to the FIFA 2022 World Cup quarterfinals. In Doha, Olivier Giroud scored the game’s first goal just before halftime, and Kylian Mbappe added two more goals in the second half to put Didier Deschamps’ team ahead.
With a late penalty at the second attempt, Robert Lewandowski ensured that the French lost each game in Qatar. However, the optimism rising around this France team, starting to take off, was not enough to dim it.
Giroud now has 52 goals for Les Bleus, making him the team’s all-time leading scorer. Mbappe is already approaching double-digit World Cup goals following his most recent brace. But, with England vs. Senegal beginning at 2 p.m. ET, they wait to find out whether they advance.
At Al Thumama Stadium, the first half was competitive. First, Piotr Zielinski needed to be denied by a magnificent Hugo Lloris save, and Poland was held at bay by some desperate defense. Then, Giroud missed an excellent opportunity to score his 52nd goal for his country before he did because Ousmane Dembele’s ball across the goal’s face was too fast for him to turn in.
The AC Milan player eventually scored, and Mbappe provided the assist for him to clip in the goal, giving him the lead over Thierry Henry in the charts. When he dropped the ball seconds later, Lloris came close to erasing that advantage, but he smothered it before Jakub Kaminski could respond.
The Poles’ performance in the first half was as good as it would get for them because France took the lead in the second 45 minutes. Raphael Varane’s foul on Wojciech Szczesny was fortunate; perhaps a French penalty or Giroud’s acrobatic effort that was rejected should have been upheld instead.
The Eagles’ resilience ended as Dembele set up Mbappe to slam home high into the net beyond Szczesny. A dominant French team added a late touch when the 23-year-old curled in a second in the first minute of extra time to secure his team’s quarterfinal berth.
Lewandowski scored a consolation goal for the Polish when Dayot Upamecano was found to have handled the ball by video assistant referees. Lloris initially saved the Barcelona player’s penalty kick, but it was required to be retaken and was successful this time.
England vs. Senegal
Despite their early problems, England defeated Senegal 3-0 on Saturday to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals against France. Gareth Southgate’s team struggled to create any rhythm in the opening 30 minutes due to their commitment to playing short, which brought on several issues for them. However, the margin of victory fairly flattered their performance.
England did, to their credit, respond when the outstanding Jordan Henderson scored the game’s first goal after Jude Bellingham set him up. Subsequent goals from Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka allowed England to prepare for their formidable foe later this week with an hour remaining.
At the Al Bayt Stadium, the Three Lions got off to a strong start. Their progressive press allowed them to recapture possession in and around Senegal’s final third several times early on without putting Edouard Mendy’s goal to the test. Indeed, the African champions took advantage of John Stones and Harry Maguire’s sloppy passing out from the back to seize the early openings.
The former might have given England the slip with a boldly advanced pass but instead gave Senegal the ball. They moved quickly to the right, crossing for Boulaye Dia to attack John Stones. Ismaila Sarr claimed there had been a handball before his spooning over, but he did so hoping to receive forgiveness for his appalling miss.
Soon after, Senegal took advantage of a mistake by Buakyo Saka to force an outstanding save from Jordan Pickford from Boulaye Dia. Every man in England was confused with how few options they were being offered as they were at sea and unable to escape their third. An objective had to be made. Just at the opposite end, it arrived.
Harry Kane drifted to the left to create an overload that became too much for Senegal to handle when Jude Bellingham got involved. It was a repetition of the threat England had presented at the beginning. However, he had choices to his right as he moved into the box and made the proper decision to pass the ball to Jordan Henderson.
Bellingham demonstrates his ability to make sound decisions at the age of 19 in all critical situations. Picking up the ball in his own third, he advanced up the field and passed a Senegal midfield that had earlier appeared to be very strong. He slipped past Phil Foden just in time to send the ball on to Kane.
With a thundering strike across Edouard Mendy as the final act of the first half that potentially could have ended disastrously for England, he revealed his hunger for his first World Cup goal.
In the second, there was no such drama; instead, Foden fizzed a cross for Saka through the legs of Kalidou Koulibaly after a beautiful play down the left.
United States vs. Netherlands
Although playing the No. 8-ranked Netherlands in the Round of 16 of the World Cup was always tricky, the United States felt they had a chance to advance to their second-ever quarterfinal appearance.
Instead, they were trounced 3-1 by goals from Denzel Dumfries, Daley Blind, and Memphis Depay.
The Dutch scored on their three best chances, while the Americans squandered a ton of good options. Thus the difference came down to finishing in front of the goal.
The first sign of trouble came in the third minute when Andries Noppert stopped Christian Pulisic from taking advantage of a huge opportunity.
As defensive mistakes and attacking weaknesses continued to haunt them, the Netherlands began to punish the United States for every mistake they made after that. The U.S. generated waves of opportunities at different times during the game but only scored once on a wild bounce off replacement Haji Wright’s foot.
The United States is left with just one quarterfinal participation in their history at a World Cup.
In the end, the Americans gave a good performance and created many chances, but their finishing let them down. The Netherlands took advantage of every opportunity they produced, just like they did on the group stage, but the United States could not match their incisiveness. The significant misses by Haji Wright and Pulisic early in the game loom huge.
The Netherlands played strong defense on the opposite end, making crucial tackles and blocks when necessary. At the same time, the United States faltered at essential times, losing track of runners and lurkers near the far post. This young American team still has the potential to improve, but they need to make fewer mistakes.
The knockout stage will continue tomorrow, December 5th. The last tournament’s runner-ups Croatia will take on the Blue Lock Japanese team at 9:00 a.m. CST. The second match will see world cup favorites Brazil face off against the Tottenham Hotspur-led striker Son Heung Min’s Korea Republic. The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. CST. Both games will be available on FS1 or Telemundo.