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Today at the World Cup: Messi progresses as Leckie has Australia cooking on gas

Lionel Messi’s World Cup dream lives on after Argentina allayed fears of an early exit from the World Cup group stage with an eventual convincing 2-0 win over Poland on Wednesday.

Poland, despite a poor performance, also advanced as Group C runners-up, trailing Mexico by the narrowest margins on a dramatic evening in Qatar.

Australia join them in the last 16 after a famous 1-0 victory over Denmark, who go home from Group D along with Tunisia.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how the day went.

Argentina stay alive

After losing their opener against Saudi Arabia, Argentina had to do it the hard way.

A defeat to Poland at Stadium 974 would have knocked them out and a draw would have left them sweating for the other result, but in the end the South Americans came through.

Poland rarely threatened and after Messi saved a penalty by Wojciech Szczesny in the first half, Argentina proved too strong in the second half.

Goals from Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister and Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez decided the result, but the drama continued as the battle for second place in the group between Poland and Mexico came down to goal difference.

Argentina rejected a number of chances that could have knocked out the Poles and Robert Lewandowski and co breathed a sigh of relief after holding off further damage to discover Mexico had ‘only’ won 2-1.

Mexico just falls short

Mexico was arguably the outsider of the four sides in their group going into the final round, but in the end they just missed by the skin of their teeth.

Saudi Arabia had their destiny in their own hands at Lusail Stadium, knowing they would qualify with a win, but they failed to match their heroics from earlier in the tournament.

Mexico dominated throughout the game and a goal from Henry Martin and a stunning free-kick from Luis Chavez brought them to the brink of qualification.

Another goal could have done the trick, but two tries were disallowed for offside and a late Saudi consolation from Salem Al Dawsari ended their hopes.

How are teams evenly separated on points?

For most of the second half, leading 2-0 in both Group C matches, Poland clung on to second place having accumulated fewer yellow cards than Mexico in the tournament.

At that point, the two sides were tied on points, goal difference and goals scored, with their head-to-record being irrelevant as their game finished 0–0.

Had the teams also had identical disciplinary records, FIFA might have had to draw lots to separate them.

Socceroos through after beating Danes

Australia reached the knockout stage for only the second time in their history and the first since 2006 when they stunned Denmark 1-0.

Mathew Leckie completed a brilliant counter-attack on the hour mark to score the only goal at the Al Janoub Stadium and secure second place in Group D behind champions France.

Denmark should have won to have any hope of progressing but despite dominant possession they were unable to break through the resilient Aussies.

The defeat capped off a miserable tournament for the side ranked 10th in the world by FIFA and sees them go home after collecting just one point from three matches.

Tunisia also misses despite the famous victory

Tunisia’s hopes of coming through depended on claiming what looked like an unlikely victory over France, and a favorable result in the other Group D match.

Contrary to expectations, they managed to keep their appointment as they claimed a famous 1-0 victory over the holders at Education City Stadium with a fine individual goal from Wahbi Khazri in the 58th minute.

With his side already on the ball, French coach Didier Deschamps had made sweeping changes, but Tunisia’s goal created a sense of urgency with star duo Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé sending through.

Griezmann seemed late to drag in the equalizer, but his volley was rejected by the VAR.

The relief was bittersweet for Tunisia, with victory secured, but Australia’s victory ultimately denied them.

Photo of the day

Tweet of the day

Who’s next?

Group F: Croatia v Belgium (3pm, BBC One)Group F: Canada v Morocco (3pm, BBC Two)Group E: Japan v Spain (7pm, ITV1)Group E: Costa Rica v Germany (7pm, ITV4)

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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