Argentina 2-0 Poland, Saudi AArabia1-2 Mexico
Leading group C with 4 points, Poland took on Argentina, who came into MD-3 tied on points with Saudi Arabia, but in second place on goal differential. In the other match, the Saudis faced bottom-of-the-group Mexico, who were on just one point.
The heroics of Wojciech Sczcesny helped Poland remain in first place. In addition to the six other saves he made in the first half alone, the Juventus goalkeeper saved a well-struck penalty shot taken by the one and only Lionel Messi at the 39th minute.
Meanwhile, Mexico were the better side in their match against the Saudis but the latter did threaten on the counter. The group rankings remained unchanged after at the halftime whistle with Poland potentially playing Australia and Argentina playing France in the Round of 16.
Three minutes into the second half, Nahuel Molina found an unattended Alexis MacAllister with a low cross to open the scoring and force Poland to abandon their defending plans. At the same 47th minute in its game, Mexico converted a corner kick into a goal by Henry Martin assisted by a flick from Cesar Montes.
Five minutes later, Luis Chaves delivered a free kick into the back of the net for Mexico (a strong contender for the best goal in the Qatar World Cup so far). As a result Argentina overtook Poland to top the group while Poland dropped to second, ahead of Mexico on a goal difference of 1.
Then rising Benfica and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez set up Manchester City youngster Julian Alvarez to score the second goal for Argentina, and creating a tie between Poland and Mexico on points, goal difference, goals for, goals against, and head-to-head result. This brought the decision tree all the way to the point of fair play, where Poland’s four yellow cards during the tournament put them ahead of Mexico’s 7.
The pressure was on for Poland and they responded by abandoning their attack to protect their goal in the hopes that neither Mexico nor Argentina would score again, keeping them second in the group on the basis of yellow cards.
While Argentina celebrated winning the group as its game ended, several minutes remained in the Mexico/Saudi Arabia game. In the dying moments, Saudi winger Salem Al Dawsari put paid to any hopes Mexico had to progress, scoring from Hattan Bahebri's assist in the 96th minute.
So after two dramatic games, Argentina now moves on to play Australia as winners of Group C, while Poland advances to face defending champions France.
France 0-1 Tunisi, Denmark 0-1 Australia
Having already secured advancement and needing only a draw to win Group D, title-holders France started their MD3 match against Tunisia with a heavily-rotated squad. Meanwhile, threatened with the prospect of an early exit, Denmark took on Australia with only full points in mind.
Throughout the first half of their respective matches, France and Australia were able to hold Tunisia and Denmark to goalless draws. After the intermissions, Denmark and Tunisia took to the pitch desperate to break the deadlocks. In the 57th minute, Tunisia striker Wahbi Khazri capitalised on a loose ball and slotted it beside the goalkeeper to overtake Australia in the rankings on goal difference.
But Tunisia’s celebrations were short-lived. In the other match, Methew Leckie set up Riley McGree on the counter for the latter to dribble around the Danish defender and put Australia up 1-0. The goal meant Australia took back second place in the group on goal difference.
As the clock wound down towards the final whistle, the results remained the same and so France and Australia successfully secured passage to the Round of 16.