World Cup·ROUNDUP

Lewandowski ends goal drought in fifth World Cup match to aid Poland's push for round of 16

Robert Lewandowski finally scored at the men's World Cup, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 on Saturday and boosting his team's chances of reaching the knockout stages in Qatar.

Messi ignites Argentina's World Cup chances; France reaches knockout stage

Poland's Robert Lewandowski scores his team's second goal against Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais in a 2-0 win on Saturday at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Finally!

Robert Lewandowski finally scored at the men's World Cup, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 on Saturday and boosting his team's chances of reaching the knockout stages in Qatar.

Lewandowski shed tears after scoring in the 82nd minute in Al Raayan. 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.

"Today everything I had inside, the dreams, the importance of the occasion, all those dreams from my childhood came through," Lewandowski said. "It was so significant."

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.

"I always wanted to score at the World Cup and this dream came true," said Lewandowski, who had a penalty saved in Poland's 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday. "It's not easy, because we didn't have many opportunities in the first match and I missed that penalty."

Against Saudi Arabia, 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.

Lewandowski, who had no involvement in any goals in his first four World Cup games, also hit the post, and Al-Owais later denied the Barcelona player from scoring another goal toward the end of the match.

Poland was scrambling for long periods at the Education City Stadium as the Saudi team was pushed forward by enthusiastic fans in what seemed like a home game. The frustration was clear on Lewandowski's face as Poland's yellow cards mounted.

Saudi Arabia had a chance to equalize at the end of the first half but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Salem Al-Dawsari's penalty kick. He then blocked Mohammed Al-Burayk's shot from the rebound.

Poland will next face Argentina, while Saudi Arabia will meet Mexico in their last Group C games.

Messi ignites Argentina's World Cup chances

Lionel Messi came up with another crucial goal for Argentina in a 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday that ignited the team's World Cup chances.

Messi took a touch from Angel Di Maria's pass across the face of the area and drove a low shot from 25 meters (yards) into the bottom corner in the 64th minute.

He ran toward Argentina's fans with his arms outstretched arms before getting mobbed by his jubilant teammates. He looked emotional as he grabbed and shook his jersey, then blew a kiss to the crowd before whirling his arms.

Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute.

Lionel Messi, left, of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium in Lusail City, Qatar. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Argentina bounced back from a shocking 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening match. The team is in second place in Group C ahead of its last match against Poland on Wednesday and might need to win it to advance.

The 35-year-old Messi is likely playing in his last World Cup, which is the only major title missing from his collection.

It was an eighth World Cup goal for Messi — the same number scored in the tournament by rival Cristiano Ronaldo and also Diego Maradona, the Argentina great with whom he is so often compared.

For some, Messi needs to win the World Cup to join the ranks of Pele and Maradona as soccer's greatest ever players. Thanks to this win, it could still happen.

Until his goal, Messi was enduring a frustrating match, finding himself with two defenders on him each time he received the ball.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the Saudi Arabia game in a bid to inject some more energy into the team but they initially made little difference.

The momentum of the game changed completely after Messi's goal, his 93rd in internationals and his second of the tournament after a penalty against Saudi Arabia.

Largest attendance at World Cup match in 28 years

Messi played in front of 88,966 spectators in Saturday's victory for Argentina, the largest attendance at a World Cup match in 28 years.

The Lusail Stadium north of Doha, which will stage the final on Dec. 18, hosted the most people at the World Cup since the 1994 final in the United States, according to FIFA. There were 91,194 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to see Brazil beat Italy in that penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.

Saturday's attendance was several hundred more than the figure for the two previous games at Lusail Stadium, when Brazil beat Serbia and Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia.

Qatar's attendance figures do not rank in the top 30 of all-time World Cup matches. The largest crowd was 173,850 inside the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in 1950 for Uruguay's 2-1 victory over host Brazil in the final game of that tournament.

Other stadiums figuring in the top-30 list are the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Wembley Stadium in London and the Camp Nou in Barcelona.

Defending champion France reaches knockout stage

Kylian Mbappe scored two goals and put defending champion France into the knockout stage of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Denmark in Doha, Qatar.

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.

France striker Kylian Mbappe celebrates after the final whistle after the FIFA World Cup Group D match between France and Denmark at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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.

Duke lifts Australia over Tunisia 

Earlier Saturday, Australia only needed to avoid defeat to stay in the World Cup. The Socceroos did more than that in a 1-0 win over Tunisia in Al Wakrah, Qatar.

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 still has a chance to qualify for the round of 16, despite losing 4-1 to defending champion France in their opening match.

France and Australia lead Group D with three points each, while Denmark and Tunisia have one point each.

Australia's Mitchell Duke (15) scored in a 1-0 win over Tunisia in World Cup Group D action on Saturday at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

France was playing Denmark later.

In the final round of group games on Wednesday, Tunisia plays France and Australia meets Denmark.

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 mid-field and made a quick touch to set Craig Goodwin down the left flank and Duke then sprinted forward to nod Goodwin's deflected cross into the far corner.

Duke celebrated by making a 'J' with his fingers in a tribute to his son, Jaxson, who was in the stands.

The goal quieted the large contingent of red-clad Tunisia fans among the crowd of 41,823 inside Al Janoub Stadium, and sent the small pockets of Australian supporters dressed in yellow into delirium.

Tunisia impressed when it held European Championship semifinalist Denmark to a 0-0 draw in its opener but only occasionally threatened against Australia until the Aussies sat back and defended toward the end.

During the second half, Tunisia fans held aloft a large Palestinian flag with the words, "Free Palestine" printed on it.

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