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Friday, January 27, 2023

Today at the World Cup: Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe take centre stage

Lionel Messi helped Argentina get their World Cup campaign up and running with a 2-0 win over Mexico at the Lusail Stadium.

arlier, Poland had brought Saudi Arabia back down to earth with a 2-0 victory in Al Rayyan which leaves Group C wide open.

France became the first country to qualify for the last 16 after they beat Denmark 2-1, while Australia kept destiny in their own hands after edging past Tunisia.

Here, the PA news agency keeps on top of events in Qatar.

Messi makes his mark

Moments of class from Lionel Messi and substitute Enzo Fernandez settled a bad-tempered clash against Mexico as Argentina got their first win in Group C.

Messi, who could be playing in his last World Cup, ignited Argentina with a long-range strike 19 minutes into the second half.

Benfica midfielder Rodriguez made sure with a sublime curler with three minutes left.

In Saturday’s other Group C match, Robert Lewandowski’s first World Cup finals goal helped seal Poland’s win over Saudi Arabia.

However, the result could have been different but for former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny producing a brilliant double save from a Saudi penalty which would have levelled things up at 1-1 following Piotr Zielinski’s first-half opener.

France march on

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as world champions France saw off Denmark 2-1 to book a place in the knockout stage with a game to spare.

Mbappe slotted in after a clever exchange with Theo Hernandez to give France a 61st-minute lead, but Denmark soon levelled through a header from Andreas Christensen.

Paris St Germain star Mbappe, though, had the final say when he converted Antoine Griezmann’s cross with four minutes left.

Duke has Socceroos bouncing

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Mitchell Duke was on target as Australia beat Tunisia (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Australia – thumped 4-1 by France in the Group D opener – ignited their World Cup campaign as a stunning header from Mitchell Duke secured a 1-0 win over Tunisia in Saturday’s early kick-off at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Duke’s well-taken first-half goal proved enough for a crucial victory which leaves Australia in control of their own destiny heading into the showdown with Denmark.

Southgate stays positive

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England manager Gareth Southgate is focusing on the positives (Martin Rickett/PA)

After a lacklustre goalless draw with the United States dampened expectations, England manager Gareth Southgate is determined to remain upbeat ahead of Tuesday night’s match with Wales, where avoiding a four-goal defeat will secure a place in the last 16.

“We are also still in pole position to win the group if we can win the game next week,” said Southgate, who welcomed midfielder James Maddison back to training following rehabilitation on his knee injury.

Wales regroup

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Brennan Johnson feels Wales can upset the odds against England (Mike Egerton/PA)

After losing 2-0 to Iran, Wales boss Robert Page has all but written off his side’s chances of making the knockout stage – which will also need the other Group B result to go their way.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Nottingham Forest forward Brennan Johnson. “But we do know that all the boys are going to give it everything they have got.”

Picture of the day

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Mitchell Duke had a special message for his son watching in the crowd as he celebrated a crucial goal against Tunisia (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Tweet of the day

Who’s up next

Group E: Japan v Costa Rica (10am, ITV1)
Group F: Belgium v Morocco (1pm, BBC1)
Group F: Croatia v Canada (4pm, BBC1)
Group E: Spain v Germany (7pm, BBC1)

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