WCup Argentina Mexico Soccer

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina’s opening goal Saturday in a 2-0 World Cup victory over Mexico. Ariel Schalit/Associated Press

LUSAIL, Qatar — Lionel Messi was almost in tears as he grabbed and shook his jersey in front of Argentina’s celebrating fans, then blew a kiss and looked to the sky.

With one of the most important goals of his career, Messi led Argentina to a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Saturday to ignite his team’s World Cup chances.

His dream of winning soccer’s biggest prize in likely his last attempt is still alive.

Messi took a touch from Angel Di Maria’s pass across the face of the area and drove a low shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner to give Argentina the lead in the 64th minute.

His arms outstretched, he ran toward the team’s supporters who were celebrating behind the goal and was soon mobbed by his teammates. He whirled his arms in an emotional response to scoring his 93rd – and perhaps most crucial – international goal.

“We knew we had to win today, that another World Cup was starting for us,” Messi said, “and we knew how to do it.”


It was the eighth World Cup goal for Messi, the same as rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, and also Diego Maradona – the Argentina great with whom he is so often compared.

Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute, ensuring Argentina bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that ranked as one of the World Cup’s biggest ever upsets.

Argentina is second in Group C ahead of its last group match against first-place Poland on Wednesday, and might need to win it to advance.

“We can’t let our guard down now,” Messi said. “All of our matches are finals now. We can’t mess up.”

WCup France Denmark Soccer

France’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring the first of his two goals Saturday in a 2-1 win over Denmark in Doha, Qatar. Christophe Ena/Associated Press

FRANCE 2, DENMARK 1: Kylian Mbappe scored two goals and put defending champion France into the knockout stage of the World Cup.

Mbappe gave his team the lead in the 61st minute and then scored the winner in the 86th with his right thigh as Les Bleus became the first team to advance to the round of 16.


The France forward swapped passes with Theo Hernandez down the left flank and poked the ball past Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel for the first goal. He then jumped acrobatically to guide in the second after a cross from Antoine Griezmann.

Denmark defender Andreas Christensen equalized for his team with a header in the 68th.

Mbappe scored four goals when France won the World Cup four years ago, including one in the final. He now has 31 goals for France, moving him one ahead of Just Fontaine – the all-time leading scorer at a single World Cup with 13 goals at the 1958 tournament.

With Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema missing from the tournament because of a leg injury, Mbappe has taken charge. He has 14 goals in his last 12 games for France, including three so far in Qatar.

AUSTRALIA 1, TUNISIA 0: Mitchell Duke gave Australia the lead midway through the first half with a header, and Australia went on to register its first win at soccer’s biggest event since a victory over Serbia back in 2010.

The result means Australia is in position qualify for the round of 16, despite losing 4-1 to defending champion France in its opening match.


France has already clinched first place in Group D with six points, but Australia is now second with three points, while Denmark and Tunisia have one point each. Australia would advance with a win Wednesday against Denmark, and a draw would be good enough unless Tunisia beats France.

After a scrappy start from both sides, Australia went ahead with a play out of the back from its goalkeeper. Duke collected the goalkeeper’s pass near midfield and made a quick touch to set Craig Goodwin down the left flank, then sprinted forward to nod Goodwin’s deflected cross into the far corner.

POLAND 2, SAUDI ARABIA 0: Robert Lewandowski at last scored a goal in a World Cup match, boosting his team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages.

Lewandowski shed tears after scoring in the 82nd minute. He raced toward the corner with his arms outstretched, then stayed slumped on the field as teammates rushed to congratulate him. He got up, rubbed his face, and blew a kiss to the crowd.

One of the best forwards in the world, Lewandowski’s barren streak at the World Cup was somewhat puzzling. Now, in his fifth match at the tournament, it’s over.

Lewandowski also set up the opener in the 40th minute when he kept the ball in play after goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais’ initial block, then laid it back for Piotr Zielinski to knock in.

Poland moved into first place in Group C and has a chance to advance to the round of 16 even if it loses to Argentina on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia needs a win over Mexico, or a draw combined with an Argentina loss or blowout win.

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