France and Australia advance despite Tunisia’s upset over defending champs

Lionel Messi’s penalty stopped by Polish goalkeeper

If Argentina falls short, the soccer-mad nation will never forget the 39th minute against Poland.

All-time great Lionel Messi’s penalty was saved in the bottom right corner of the net by diving Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

It was Szczesny’s second penalty save of the tournament.

Soccer reaching breakthrough U.S. moment?

While U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter is focusing on his team’s round-of-16 match against mighty Netherlands, the American skipper can’t help thinking about the big picture.

“I don’t know the final numbers, but I’m sure there was a lot of people watching,” Berhalter said about Team USA’s go-ahead win Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“You see how resilient this group is. You see how unified this group is. You see what type of energy and output they put into every single game. And then along the way, there’s some pretty good soccer. That’s the American spirit, the way this group plays, and I think people will appreciate that, especially back home.”

The U.S. run to the final 16 in the 2010 World Cup inspired New Jersey teenager Matt Turner to devote himself to soccer. Eight years later, Turner was between the sticks for America on soccer’s biggest stage.

“This is just an unbelievable experience for me, given my story,” he said. “Almost everything is a carbon copy of the feelings that I felt as a fan in 2010. And to be able to have a say in the result that gets us through to the next round is huge — it was just very emotional for a lot of reasons for me.”

Pelé’s daughter says no reason to be alarmed by hospital visit

SAO PAULO — Brazilian soccer great Pelé was hospitalized in Sao Paulo to regulate the medication in his fight against a colon tumor, his daughter said on Wednesday.

Kely Nascimento added that there was “no emergency” concerning her 82-year-old father’s health.

Hospital Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo later added in a statement that Edson Arantes do Nascimento, globally known as Pelé, was in stable condition after arriving Tuesday “for a reevaluation of the chemotherapeutic treatment of the tumor.”

The hospital also said the former footballer “has full control of his vital functions” and was not taken to intensive or semi-intensive care units for treatment.

Kely Nascimento, who lives in the United States, made the comments in an Instagram post after what she called “lots of alarm in the media today concerning my dad’s health.”

All teams of competitive Group C have a path forward

The 2 p.m. EST matches featuring Argentina vs. Poland and Mexico vs. Saudi Arabia feature realistic hopes for advancement for all four teams.

  • Group leader Poland will make the round of 16 with a victory or draw.
  • Lionel Messi’s Argentina can move on with a victory. A draw could also help as long as Saudi Arabia doesn’t win.
  • Saudi Arabia, with this tournament’s signature upset, can advance with a win. A draw could also help as long as Argentina loses.
  • Mexico has the toughest road, needing to win and for Poland to beat Argentina.

Why many Iranians are happy their team lost to the U.S.

Usually, when a team gets knocked out of an international tournament like the soccer World Cup, the nation is united in grief, pride in their performance or a mixture of both. After Iran’s loss to the United States on Tuesday, however, many Iranians cheered their players’ failure, saying they represented the repressive theocratic regime rather than the people it violently oppresses.

On Tuesday, those criticizing the team made their voices heard: This was the Islamic Republic’s loss, not Iran’s. Horn-honking cars flooded the streets of Tehran and other cities, according to footage posted on social media.

Meanwhile, there were thousands of tweets in Persian, or in English from prominent Iranians, saying how happy they were their own team had fallen at the first hurdle of the competition.

“For 43 years the regime brainwashed Iranians to hate America,” Masih Alinejad, a New York-based Iranian journalist and activist, tweeted. “But see how people across Iran are celebrating the victory of the U.S. soccer team against the Islamic Republic.”

Read the full story here.

Pre-dawn parties erupt in Australia as Socceroos move on

Australian fans celebrate in Melbourne on Dec. 1, 2022, after Australia's World Cup victory over Denmark put them in the knockout stage.
Australian fans celebrate in Melbourne on Dec. 1, 2022.William West / AFP – Getty Images

Soccer fans in Australia erupted in pre-dawn joy as the Socceroos beat Denmark, 1-0, and advanced to knockout play.

The match ended a little before 4 a.m. Thursday in much of the nation, but that early hour didn’t stop thousands of Aussies from attending outdoor watch parties.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was awake for the early-morning action and called Australia’s triumph a “magnificent win.”

Qatar World Cup chief says 400 migrant workers died amid human rights concerns

More than 400 migrant workers died in Qatar in the years leading up to the World Cup, the man in charge of the body responsible for organizing the tournament has said, reigniting a debate over the treatment of those who built more than $200 billion worth of structures for the tournament.

Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told British journalist Piers Morgan on Talk TV that “the estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500.”

After the interview, the Supreme Committee issued a statement appearing to contradict al-Thawadi, saying that he was referring to 414 deaths from across the whole country, not necessarily all related to the World Cup.

Read the full story here.

France and Australia advance to knockout play

Mathew Leckie’s goal in the 60th minute gave Australia a 1-0 victory over Denmark, securing the Socceroos’ spot in the round of 16.

Had Australia and Denmark tied, that would have opened the door for Tunisia to possibly advance if Carthage Eagles could score an upset victory over 2018 World Cup-champion France.

And that’s exactly what Tunisia did, winning 1-0 thanks to 58th-minute goal by Wahbi Khazri. That score came as Australia and Denmark were scoreless, briefly putting Tunisia into second place in live standings.

France appeared to equalize in the dying moments of stoppage time but Antoine Griezmann’s apparent goal was disallowed because he was ruled offside.

Tunisia and Australia take 1-0 leads in second half

In a matter of minutes, Tunisia’s narrow path for advancement unexpectedly expanded but then Australia suddenly took control again in the overall standings.

Wahbi Khazri’s strike in the 58th minute gave Tunisia a shocking lead against reigning-champion France.

To advance out of Group D play, Tunisia needs an upset win and then a draw between Australia and Denmark, who were scoreless at the moment of Khazri’s goal.

But then Mathew Leckie scored in the 60th minute for the Socceroos, who were then put back in advancement position.

No goals, so far across Qatar

So far Wednesday, teams were coming up empty in Qatar, with scoreless matches in France vs. Tunisia and Australia vs. Denmark going into halftime.

If both Group D matches end in draws, the Socceroos would grab the second advancement spot. Here are the live standings:

1. France — 7 points (+4 goal differential)

2. Australia — 4 points (-2)

3. Denmark — 2 points (-1)

3. Tunisia — 2 points (-1)

United States will be underdogs against Netherlands

Oddsmakers listed the Americans as 2-to-1 underdogs in their round-of-16 match against the Netherlands on Saturday.

The United States needed late dramatics to beat Iran on Tuesday and finish second in Group B. Oranje won Group A with two victories and a draw.

France vs. Tunisia and Australia vs. Denmark at 10 a.m. EST

France has already secured a spot in the round of 16, while Tunisia has a narrow path forward: The team needs an upset victory over France to go with a draw in the other match.

An Australian victory locks up advancement, while a win by Denmark will likely put Danish Dynamite into knockout play.

From 2018 failure to 2022 glory: U.S. alive and well at World Cup

Christian Pulisic scored and injured himself in one glorious and painful moment on Tuesday, as the United States recorded a 1-0 victory over Iran and moved on to World Cup knockout play.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania native suffered an abdominal injury while crashing into Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand in what turned out to be the winning play late in the first half.

Pulisic was substituted out at halftime but he says he’ll be ready in time for the next match. The United States will play in the round of 16 against the Netherlands at 10 a.m. EST on Saturday in a game that’ll be televised in Spanish on Telemundo and streamed on Peacock.

Making knockout play was a major achievement for the United States, which failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

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