World Cup

Australia eliminated Denmark from the World Cup with a 1-0 victory and first-ever appearance in the round of 16 thanks to Mathew Leckie’s goal.

Australia was aware that, should Tunisia defeat France, they would join Group D champions France in the knockout rounds, while Denmark needed to win to have any chance of moving on.

Denmark controlled the first period, but due to their inability to score, Australia was on track to advance until Wahbi Khazri of Tunisia gave the world champions the lead.

Until Leckie weaved into the Danes’ area and finished past Kasper Schmeichel (60), that goal had temporarily moved Tunisia into second place in Group D. However, a tenacious defensive effort made sure it was not given up.

Due to their victory over Tunisia, the Socceroos began the day in second place, so it was up to Denmark to attack. The Danes started off strong and controlled possession of the ball against a team ranked 28 places lower than them in the FIFA world rankings, only to be frustrated in a forgettable first half.

Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan of Australia deftly deflected a shot from Mathias Jensen and unusually deflected a dangerous cross from roving left-back Joakim Maehle, while Christian Eriksen dragged his attempt wide.

Denmark needed to win to have any chance of moving on

Riley McGree of Middlesbrough tested Schmeichel during a rare foray forward, showing they could pose issues on the counterattack, while Australia remained compact.

The second period’s play continued in this manner until a goal in the other Group D game put both teams in jeopardy.

Just as Leckie pounced on McGree’s through ball to sprint clear and finish expertly, word of Tunisia forward Khazri’s goal against France appeared to have made its way to the Al Janoub Stadium.

Denmark needed at least two goals to avoid leaving Qatar early, but even a draw seemed unlikely given their lack of creativity.

Denmark needed to win to have any chance of moving on

19 minutes before the end, when Kasper Dolberg, a substitute, fell in the box, Australia experienced a serious scare before the penalty call was quickly reversed.

The resilient Socceroos, inspired by Scotland-born center-back Harry Souttar, defended tenaciously and rightfully made it through six minutes of extra time to shock the Euro 2020 semifinalist team and advance.

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