Fifa 2020: Australian goal sails past Denmark goalie to earn spot in top 16text_fields
Doha (Qatar): Australia stunned Denmark 1-0 in the second half thanks to a goal from Mathew Leckie, advancing to the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 16 years.
Australia finished with six points from three games—one defeat and two wins—at the Janoub Stadium, defending their 1-0 goal with some last-ditch defence to tie France for both wins and points. Australia, who had lost to France 4-1 in their initial group encounter, was the group runner-up because of a lower goal differential than the defending winners.
Australia joins teams like France, Portugal, Brazil, Senegal, and the Netherlands that have already qualified.
Graham Arnold's side thus made it into the round of 16 for the first time since 2006. On Saturday, they will play one of Argentina, Poland or Saudi Arabia depending on Wednesday night's Group C results, in a continuation of a World Cup brimming with upsets and implosions.
France will take on Group C runners-up with Wednesday two other matches between Argentina - Poland and Mexico- Saudi Arabia deciding on the top team from the group.
The Danes, needing a victory to progress, dominated possession but were caught out on the break when Australia scored the winner on the hour mark. So it was as a counter-attack which ended Australia's agony and Denmark's World Cup campaign.
Denmark lost the ball in the Australian box and Leckie finished a brilliant counterattack with a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.
The Danes' best chance came through Mathias Jensen in the first half, who forced Australia captain Mat Ryan into an impressive acrobatic save after being played through by a Braithwaite flick.
Denmark came into the World Cup tipped by many fans and pundits as a 'dark horses' after their impressive run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and a strong Uefa Nations League campaign in which they beat France home and away.
In the end, it was Denmark's second-half impotence that ended their tournament prematurely, their early brightness dissipating in the face of a Socceroos' side which left it late but rallied when it had to and once again displayed a level of quality.
Denmark on the other hand failed to impress in Qatar and go home having scored only once in three Group D games.
With inputs from IANS