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Australia 1-0 Denmark: Leckie goal sends Socceroos to the knockout stage

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Australia advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup after securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over Denmark on Wednesday.

Mathew Leckie’s winning goal at Al Janoub Stadium meant Tunisia’s shock win against France counted for nothing as Graham Arnold’s side went through as Group D runners-up.

The Socceroos qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup for only a second time from six tournament appearances, having only previously done so in 2006, and will now play the winners of Group C.

It is home time for Kasper Hjulmand’s men though, who disappointed after reaching the Euro 2020 semi-finals, and are now winless in their last six World Cup games (D4 L2), since beating Peru in their first game of the 2018 tournament.

It was a strong start from the Danes, who came closest to taking the lead early on when Mathias Jensen ran onto a flick from Martin Braithwaite, only to see his near post shot tipped over the bar by Mat Ryan.

Denmark dominated the early stages, emphasised by the fact goalkeeper Ryan completed more passes than any of his outfield team-mates in the first half, but Australia kept their opponents at bay while also threatening on the counter.

That counter-attack threat produced for Australia as they turned defence into attack on the hour-mark as Riley McGree set Leckie away, who turned Danish defenders inside and out before finding the bottom right corner with a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.

There were nerves for Australia, with the referee awarding a penalty 10 minutes later for a foul on substitute Kasper Dolberg, only for an offside flag to overrule the decision, but Arnold’s men were able to hold on as Denmark ran out of steam and ideas.

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