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Leckie lauded as Socceroos toast their hero


Jackson Irvine and Mat Ryan speak to FIFA+ about Australia’s “beast” goal hero, Mathew Leckie.
  • Mathew Leckie scored the winner against Denmark as Australia qualified for the last 16

  • The utility player – “a beast” according to Mathew Ryan – has been part of the team for over a decade

  • Jackson Irvine: “He’s produced one of the greatest moments in the history of Australian football”

Will Mathew Leckie ever need to buy a beer in Australia again? That was the not-so-burning question doing the rounds as Australia’s beaming players bounced out of their dressing room to discuss their surprise qualification for the Qatar 2022 knockout rounds.

It was the 31-year-old’s goal, a moment of rare brilliance in a game largely devoid of attacking quality, that took the Socceroos through to the FIFA World Cup™ knockout stage for just the second time in their history. And the verdict was unanimous: whatever Leckie goes on to do, he should never again find the need to approach a bar.

“Most definitely not!” was the verdict of Australia’s captain, Mat Ryan. “Even before this goal tonight, he’d deserved to never have to buy another drink. He’s a legend. Just look at his efforts tonight – he’s an absolute beast. I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s an absolute leader, in both actions and words, and we always see it from him.

“His football does him more credit than any words I have for him. You’ve seen it tonight and so often – he’s such an important member of this team. He’s an animal, getting up and down that touchline, doing a job for the team. It’s so selfless.

“He was absolutely spent out there but he finds that energy within himself to make a last-ditch challenge or go on that run he went on to score that goal. I’m so glad to have him as a part of this team.”

Dissenting voices were, naturally, impossible to find. “He’s been a huge part of this team for so long, longer than most of the rest us, and he’s so reliable,” Jackson Irvine told FIFA+.

“He’s the guy we always look to and trust to produce big moments and big performances. And look at him now. In his third World Cup, he’s produced one of the greatest moments in the history of Australian football.”

And what was Leckie’s reward for this moment of national sporting import? “I got slapped in the head about 100 times!” he said, chuckling. “In the celebration you saw the emotion. I didn’t know what to do, I was just pounding my chest.

“Once the boys got together, the whole bench was there. The team we are, whether you’re starting or on the bench or not getting any game time, everyone is here for each other.”

Even if the goal had been the scrappiest of all time, deflected in off Leckie’s backside, its significance would have made it worthy of such celebrations. It was, of course, anything but, with the Melbourne City star – after some initial reluctance – going it alone, twisting Joakim Maehle one way then the other, before drilling a low, left-foot shot just inside the far post.

“First I wanted to cut inside, and [Maehle] sort of went that way. And just in the moment I went left again and swung my left boot and just saw the ball rolling in,” he recalled afterwards.

“This is my third World Cup now and I’ve had my chances in previous World Cups to score, which weren’t meant to be. My first World Cup [goal] is probably one of the most important goals for me and for the team.”

Note: The credit for this news goes to the official website of the FIFA World Cup.

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Argentina outclass Poland as both advance

Argentina struck two second-half goals to beat Poland and secure first place in Group C, with the Poles pipping Mexico by goal difference.

Poland v Argentina | Group C | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ | Highlights (No Commentary)
Watch the highlights from the match between Poland and Argentina played at Stadium 974, Doha on Wednesday, 30 November 2022
  • Argentina take top spot after their second Group C victory

  • Poland cling on for qualification, pipping Mexico by a single goal

  • Messi has first-half penalty saved; McAllister gets first international goal0

Poland 0-2 Argentina

Goalscorers: MacAllister (46), Alvarz (64)

Argentina made sure of their place in the round of 16 with a 2-0 victory over Poland at Stadium 974 on Wednesday. Poland, a well beaten side on this occasion, will join them in the knockout stages thanks to their superior goal difference over a Mexico side who also finished on four points.

On a night when Lionel Messi had a penalty saved superbly by Wojciech Szczezny, it was one of the squad’s less celebrated names, Alexis McAllister, who broke the deadlock with his first international goal just after half-time. Julian Alvarez ended any doubt for a rampant Albiceleste when collecting a pass from Enzo Fernandez and curling a shot into the corner.

With their victory, Lionel Scaloni’s team leapfrogged Poland into first place in Group C. With their performance, they dispelled any lingering after-effects of that opening loss to Saudi Arabia and could easily have won by more goals against opponents who did not manage an attempt on target. They will next face Australia in the round of 16, while Poland must take on world champions France.

Argentina were positive from the outset and in the 29th minute saw Marcos Acuna drill a fierce shot just past the far post.

Ten minutes later Messi had an opportunity from the penalty spot after Szczezny was adjudged, after a VAR review, to have caught him with his hand after Argentina’s skipper had beaten him to a cross. Yet the Juventus goalkeeper responded magnificently by throwing himself to his left and raising a strong arm to parry Messi’s strong strike.

The second-half goals from McAllister and Alvarez were the least Argentina deserved as they pushed for more goals, with Poland grateful to Jakub Kiwior for a late goalline clearance from Nicolas Tagliafico.

Key moment: MacAllister off the mark

MacAllister plays his football in England (with Brighton and Hove Albion), his surname is Scottish but his father Carlos played for Argentina. And he earned hero status back in Buenos Aires with the breakthrough goal, his first for Argentina.

It came immediately after the restart as he met Nahuel Molina’s cutback with a low shot. In truth he scuffed it but the ball still found the far corner.

Note: The credit for this news goes to the official website of the FIFA World Cup.

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