Best Moments From Thrilling Day 11 of FIFA World Cup originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
What a day of FIFA World Cup action.
The Day 11 slate began with Australia locking down the only remaining knockout stage spot in Group D via a 1-0 win over Denmark. The victory proved to be vital for the Socceroos, as Tunisia took down France 1-0. A tie or loss by Australia would have seen Tunisia advance instead.
The drama then kicked into ultra-high gear over in Group C. With Argentina leading Poland 2-0 and Mexico leading Saudi Arabia 2-0, the live standings had Poland in second place over Mexico due to the fair play tiebreaker. Just one goal by Mexico or Argentina would have given El Tri the advantage in the goal differential tiebreaker, and both sides certainly had their chances.
But Poland was able to see out the 2-0 defeat, while Mexico failed to score and even conceded a 95th-minute goal to Saudi Arabia. The 2-1 win ultimately wasn’t even to send Mexico through to the knockout stage, with a plus-one edge in goal differential in favor of Poland being the difference.
By the end of a hectic day of soccer, Argentina, Australia and Poland had punched a ticket to the Round of 16, while Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia were sent packing.
Here were the top three moments from a thrilling Wednesday in Qatar.
Mathew Leckie pushes Australia through to knockout stage
How about this for your first World Cup goal?
Australia was going to need a result — and possibly a win — against Denmark to remain in a qualification spot. After the two sides played over 59 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Aussies broke through.
In the 60th minute, Mathew Leckie found himself one-on-one with a Denmark defender on the counter-attack. Leckie made a pair of cuts before firing off a clinical shot that nut-megged the defender, beat the goalkeeper and snuck into the far right corner of the net.
Leckie’s first World Cup goal sent supporters in Melbourne into a frenzy, despite it being around 4 a.m. local time, and wound up being the difference between the Socceroos advancing rather than going home.
Luis Chavez scores on stunning free kick screamer
Do we have a new favorite for best goal of the 2022 World Cup?
After Mexico won a free kick from roughly 30 yards out, Luis Chavez unleashed a stunning left-footed curler in the 52nd minute that found the top right corner of the net.
The hit, which gave Mexico a 2-0 lead, rivals Richarlison’s scissor kick as one of the best goals in Qatar so far.
Unfortunately, the magnificent score came in a game that saw El Tri eliminated from the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1978.
Argentina grabs lead early in second half
Argentina’s qualification hopes were looking at least a little bit in danger following a scoreless first half against Poland where Lionel Messi failed to convert a penalty kick.
But La Albiceleste quickly dispelled any notion that they’d be crashing out of the tournament early.
In the first minute of the second half, Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring with a clinical finish off a nice cut-back feed from Nahuel Molina.
The deciding score was the first international goal of Mac Allister’s career.
Argentina would add an insurance goal about 20 minutes later from Julian Alvarez en route to finishing atop Group C.