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Sports

Messi, Argentines advance

Agence France-Presse

DOHA, Qatar – Lionel Messi’s Argentina booked their place in the Last 16 of the World Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Poland as Australia reached the knockout rounds for just the second timein their history.

Two-time former champions Argentina advanced after goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez sealed victory over Poland in Group C while Australia sent sorry Denmark crashing out with a 1-0 victory in Group D.

Despite losing to Argentina, Poland squeaked into second place, edging out Mexico – 2-1 winners over Saudi Arabia – on goal difference.

Poland will take on Group D winners France in their last 16 match.

Argentina – who suffered a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening game – ensured they qualified for the second round as group winners in a game in which captain Messi missed the 31st penalty of his career.

“We went out there thinking we had to win,” said Messi, who added that missing his spot-kick had galvanized his teammates.

Messi said Argentina, who will meet Australia in the next round, could not take progress to the quarterfinals for granted.

Australia reached the knockouts for the first time since the 2006 World Cup thanks to Mathew Leckie’s superb 60th-minute goal dispatched Denmark.

A second-string France side – already virtually assured of top spot – suffered a 1-0 loss to Tunisia.

Australia coach Graham Arnold said he was “just so proud of the effort by the boys.”

AFP

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