What a wild ending it was to Group D at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Heading into the final matchday of the group stage, France had already booked their spot into the Round of 16 while Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia were battling for the final berth.
Australia faced off against Denmark figuring they needed a draw to advance because it was a foregone conclusion that France would beat Tunisia. Denmark had to win to have a chance.
Meanwhile, if Tunisia pulled off an upset then Australia would have to win their game. And if Tunisia somehow beat the defending World Cup champs, then they had to hope for an Australia-Denmark tie, or post a better goal difference than a victorious Denmark.
Joint upsets see Australia reach World Cup Sweet 16
Both matches were goalless through 45 minutes, a partial result that favored Australia. Then came the dramatic second halves.
In the 58th minute of the France-Tunisia match, the Africans grabbed the lead courtesy of a beautiful solo effort by Wahbi Khazri. With this goal and the draw in the Australia match, Tunisia was set to go through to the next round.
Just a couple minutes later, in minute 60 of the other match, Mathew Leckie scored to give Australia an unexpected 1-0 lead.
The Aussies knew that if they could hold on, they would advance regardless of what happened in the other Group D match.
Denmark threw everything it had at Australia for the remainder of the match in search of the equalizer, but Australia defended extremely well. Simultaneously, Tunisia was defending its 1-goal lead while hoping Denmark tied it up.
Ultimately, Australia was able to hang on to win 1-0 and secure all 3 points, clinching a spot in the Round of 16 as runner-up to France.
Tunisia did get a moral victory, giving France its first loss of the tournament, but that was small consolation.
This is the second time Australia has reached the Round of 16, losing to eventual champions Italy at this same stage in 2006. The Aussies will be looking to advance to their first-ever World Cup quarterfinals but will have to beat Argentina to do so.
As winners of Group D, France will take on Poland, the second-placed team from Group C.