World Cup 2022, Day 15: Round of 16 knockouts heats up | World Cup News

World Cup 2022, Day 15: Round of 16 knockouts heats up | World Cup News

France takes on Poland followed by an England vs Senegal match – the first time the two nations will face one another.

The Round of 16 knockout stage at the Qatar 2022 World Cup continues with two more matches scheduled for Sunday, December 4, 2022 — the 15th day of the tournament.

  • France vs Poland (Al Thumama Stadium, 6pm/15:00 GMT)
  • England vs Senegal (Al Bayt Stadium, 10pm/19:00 GMT)

France vs Poland

Reigning World Cup champs France, recharged and unbeaten in their last seven matches against Poland, are projected to cruise past the White and Reds into the quarter-finals.

Poland’s formidable defence will look to stifle France’s Kylian Mbappe, who is coming off a two-goal performance against Denmark. Mbappe is also now the only player — other than Pele — to have scored seven goals at the World Cup before the age of 24.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski warming up on the pitch.
Poland’s Robert Lewandowski warming up on the pitch before taking on Saudi Arabia at Education City Stadium in Qatar on November 25, 2022 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

France’s 36-year-old Olivier Giroud, chasing his 52nd international goal to move past fellow countryman Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer, will also pose a significant threat to the Poles.

Poland, aiming to bounce back after a 2-0 group loss to Argentina, will need to rely on the precision and pace of captain Robert Lewandowski if they wish to stage a knockout round upset against Les Bleus.

England vs Senegal

England has never lost to an African team, but will that change?

In 21 matches, including seven World Cup contests, the Three Lions have beaten back or drawn with every African team they have squared off against. And they are heavily favoured to win in Sunday’s match, too — the first between the two nations.

But, in a 2022 World Cup defined by a number of big upsets, Senegal, competing in the tournament’s knockout round for just the second time in history, should not be discounted.

Senegal, led by talisman Kalidou Koulibaly, rebounded to fine form after sustaining an opening loss to the Netherlands, going on to edge hosts Qatar and Ecuador, despite the absence of an injured Sadio Mane.

Senegal's Ismaila Sarr celebrates qualifying for the knockout stages by crying out while on his knees with arms raised in victory.
Senegal’s Ismaila Sarr celebrates qualifying for the knockout stages [Reuters/Dylan Martinez] (


Suspended Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gueye will sit out Sunday’s match after picking up a second yellow card in his team’s thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador on November 29.

Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse, stricken by illness, will also be sidelined for Sunday’s contest.

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Lionel Messi scores in 1000th career game as Argentina reaches World Cup quarterfinals

Lionel Messi scores in 1000th career game as Argentina reaches World Cup quarterfinals


Lionel Messi scored in what was the 1,000th game of his storied career as Argentina beat Australia 2-1 to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals.

Captaining his national team for the 100th time, Messi ignited this last-16 match midway through the first half, curling home cutely after some neat build-up play – his 789th career goal.

In the second half, Julián Álvarez capitalized on some slack goalkeeping by Australia stopper Mat Ryan to score his second goal of the tournament and extend Argentina’s lead.

Just when it looked like Argentina might run away with proceedings, Craig Goodwin’s deflected strike from outside the box nestled in the bottom corner to set up an exciting finale, but Argentina was able to hold out.

Aziz Behich looked as if he might snatch an unlikely equalizer but Lisandro Martinez’s last-dtich tackle deflected the Australian defender’s shot following a slaloming run past a succession of Argentina defenders.

The victory means Argentina will face the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals, after the Dutch beat the US Men’s National Team 3-1 earlier on Saturday.

Messi celebrates after he scores against Australia.

Messi’s quest to win that elusive World Cup title had a rocky start at Qatar 2022 – Argentina was stunned by Saudi Arabia in its opening group game – and La Albiceleste barely troubled Australia in the opening half hour.

Many soccer pundits have passed comment on just how much Messi tends to walk in matches these days, but that wasn’t the case when the 35-year-old closed down Behich as he attempted to clear the ball.

Messi and Behich got into a bit of a shoving match and that small act of passion was enough to get the Argentina fans in the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium off their feet and singing again.

Those fans were soon crooning even more loudly when Messi curled a beautiful, left-footed effort past Australian keeper Ryan following a slick Argentina moved.

The goal was Messi’s ninth in World Cups, taking him above Diego Maradona and Guillermo Stabile who have eight apiece. Only Gabriel Batistuta has more for Argentina with 10.

Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina's first goal against Australia.

It was the highlight of what was an even first half, with Australia looking organized and never in awe of Argentina.

After the break, Argentina began to turn on the style, though La Albiceleste’s second goal stemmed from hard work and pressing.

After Ryan attempted to control a back-pass, he took a heavy touch to evade the on-rushing Rodrigo De Paul.

Unfortunately for Ryan, Álvarez had joined the press and capitalized on the Australian’s keeper’s error to tap home for his second goal in as many games.

Cue more Messi magic as the 35-year-old jinked and bounced past a succession of Australian players to the delight of the thousands of Argentina fans in attendance.

Argentina was in cruise control, but with just under 15 minutes left, a strike from Australia’s Goodwin looked to be heading safely away from the Argentina goal before it struck Enzo Fernández and flew past Emiliano Martínez.

With Australia pushing for a second goal, Argentina had an opportunities to catch the Socceroos on the break, with Lautaro Martínez missing numerous opportunities to seal the game.

Behich almost scored one of the goals of the tournament as he weaved in between a series of Argentina players before a flying tackle by Manchester United defender Martinez thwarted the Australian at the last moment.

Australia went close one last time, teenager Garang Kuol – making just his third appearance for the Socceroos – almost forcing extra-time but his close range shot was smothered by Argentina keeper Martínez.

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Israeli warplanes strike Gaza as EU calls for ‘accountability’ | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Israeli warplanes strike Gaza as EU calls for ‘accountability’ | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Air raids on Gaza come in a week where 10 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli warplanes have attacked sites in the Gaza Strip after a rocket landed in southern Israel and as tensions reach a boiling point in the occupied West Bank, where 10 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since last week.

The Israeli military said the air raids in the early hours of Sunday targeted a weapons manufacturing facility and an underground tunnel belonging to Hamas, according to the Associated Press news agency.

“The strike overnight continues the progress to impede the force build-up”, the Israeli army said in reference to Hamas, the AP reported.

No group has claimed responsibility for the rocket, reported to be the first fired in a month, which the Israeli military said landed in an open area near the Gaza-Israel fence on Saturday evening without causing casualties or damage to property.

The air attack on Gaza follows outrage over the killing of a young Palestinian man, Ammar Mufleh, 23, by an Israeli soldier in broad daylight on Friday and which was captured on video. The harrowing footage has sparked widespread anger among Palestinians and calls on social media to escalate resistance against the Israeli occupation.

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the shooting of Mufleh as tantamount to an execution, and Palestinian activists and social media users have adopted the hashtag “Huwara Execution” in Arabic, calling for a response to crimes by Israeli forces.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, released a statement saying he was “greatly concerned about the increasing level of violence in the occupied West Bank”.

“During the last days alone, 10 Palestinians have been killed by ISF (Israeli Security Forces). Yesterday’s tragic killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mifleh, by a member of the ISF (Israeli Security Forces) was the latest example,” Borrell said.

“Such unacceptable facts must be investigated and there must be full accountability. Under international law, lethal force is only justified in situations in which there exists a serious and imminent threat to life,” he said.

The rising violence has made 2022 the deadliest year since the end of the second Intifada in 2005, with at least 207 Palestinians killed in the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem so far this year.

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England vs. Senegal: Euro 2020 finalist faces African champion for place in World Cup quarterfinals

England vs. Senegal: Euro 2020 finalist faces African champion for place in World Cup quarterfinals


Sunday’s round of 16 fixtures feature the 2018 World Cup winner, the current African champion and one of the Euro 2020 finalists.

First up, reigning World Cup champion France faces Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium in the early fixture before arguably the highlight of the day as England meets Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Euro 2020 finalist England comes in as heavy favorites having reached the World Cup semifinals in 2018.
History would also seem to favor Gareth Southgate’s team. England has faced African opposition 20 times, including seven World Cup matches, and has yet to lose.

Although African nations have lost eight of their nine World Cup knockout round games against European sides, the lone exception was one which featured Senegal’s current manager, Aliou Cisse.

The 46-year-old Cisse played for Senegal in its victory over Sweden at the 2002 World Cup to reach the quarterfinals, just a few games after having beaten 1998 winner France in the tournament opener.

And, according to assistant manager Regis Bogaert, Cisse has been tapping into that experience ahead of Sunday’s game.

“When he talks he uses data and his own experiences,” Bogaert told reporters, per Reuters. “He was part of that great team in 2002 and I think the team really trusts him because of that experience he had as player.

Jakobs Ismail of Senegal plays the ball against Ecuador.

“Beating England would be a tremendous achievement, I don’t know how important it would rate compared to the victory in 2002, that was important as well.

“If we can beat a team like England it sends out a very strong message about the progress we have made.”

Senegal will be without key midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who is suspended following two yellow cards in the group stage, and star attacker Sadio Mané, who was ruled out for the Lions of Teranga ahead of the tournament with a knee injury.

Senegal could also be without Cisse, who has come down with an illness.

“He (Cisse) has been sick for a couple of days now and he let us take charge of training yesterday obviously with his instructions,” Bogaert told reporters.

“Hopefully tomorrow he will be able to come and be on the bench with the players but we are sure at 10 p.m. he will be there with the team.”

Cisse looks on prior to Senegal's game against Ecuador.

The qualification of Senegal and Morocco for the last 16 of Qatar 2020 marked just the second time that two African team have reached the knockout stages.

“The outcome of the group stage shows the extent to which more countries have acquired the tools to compete at the highest level,” said FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger.

“This is the result of better preparation and analysis of the opponents, which is also a reflection of a more equal access to technology. It is very much in line with FIFA’s efforts to increase football’s competitiveness on a global scale.”

England finished top of its group, twice winning convincingly against Iran and Wales and drawing with the US Men’s National team.

Although star striker Harry Kane has yet to score for England, Southgate’s team has still scored nine goals in those three matches, with notable contributions from Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka.

“Senegal will be tough,” Southgate said, per Reuters. “They’re very well organized, they’ve got a lot of good individual players playing in big European leagues and their expectations now will rise.”

In Sunday’s first game, France will face Poland for a place in the last eight in Qatar.

France, who booked its ticket for the knockout phases after two wins in as many games, looked impressive during the group stage, despite injuries piling up.

It faces a Poland side spearheaded by Robert Lewandowski, the country’s all-time top goalscorer.

However, France coach Didier Deschamps says Poland possess many more threats than just the Barcelona striker.

“They’ve had to defend a lot in the group stage and they defended very well. Actually they love it, but they’re not just a defensive team – just look at who they have up front,” Deschamps told a news conference, per Reuters.

“But there’s more. They have a backbone of players with great international experience, with Kamil Glik, Piotr Zieliński, Grzegorz Krychowiak and some youngsters who have shown they were up to the task. They deserve to be here.”

France vs. Poland: 10 a.m. ET at the Al Thumama Stadium.

England vs. Senegal: 2 p.m. ET at the Al Bayt Stadium.

US: Fox Sports


Australia: SBS

Brazil: SportTV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

South Africa: SABC

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Israeli warplanes strike Gaza as EU calls for ‘accountability’ | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Major cities in China ease COVID-19 restrictions after protests | Coronavirus pandemic News

Chinese authorities are continuing to ease COVID-19 restrictions, with several cities including Shenzhen and Beijing no longer requiring negative tests to take public transport.

The moves come even as daily COVID-19 infections in China hover near all-time highs and follow recent protests by people across the country who are frustrated by the Chinese government’s rigid enforcement of anti-virus restrictions.

Authorities in southern Shenzhen said on Saturday that commuters no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test to use public transport or when entering pharmacies, parks and tourist attractions.

The decision follows similar moves by the southern city of Chengdu and the northern metropolis of Tianjin.

In Beijing, authorities said on Friday that negative COVID-19 test results will no longer be required for public transport starting from Monday. However, a negative result obtained within the past 48 hours is still required to enter venues such as shopping malls, which have gradually reopened with many restaurants and eateries providing takeout services.

Beijing has also begun shutting down public testing booths, in a move that has prompted both cheers and concern.

A video showing workers in Beijing removing a testing booth by crane was shared widely on Chinese social media on Friday, with one commentator saying: “This should have been taken away earlier!” and another declaring, “Banished to history”.

But others complained that as most public venues in the city still require COVID-19 tests, the closure of testing booths had resulted in hours-long queues at the booths that remained open.

In the wake of recent demonstrations, which erupted on November 25 after at least 10 people died in a fire at a partially locked-down apartment building in the western city of Urumqi, the Chinese government has promised to reduce the disruption of COVID-19 controls on everyday life.

But, Chinese authorities are also sticking with a zero-COVID approach.

Significant reopening

Many analysts say they still do not anticipate a significant reopening of the country until at least after March, as China must first achieve results in a just-launched vaccination drive targeting the elderly.

Estimates for how many deaths China could see if it pivots to a full reopening have ranged from 1.3 million to more than 2 million, though some researchers said the death toll could be reduced sharply if there was a focus on vaccination.

China reported 32,827 daily local COVID-19 infections on Saturday, down from 34,772 a day earlier. As of Friday, China had reported 5,233 COVID-related deaths and 331,952 cases with symptoms.

World Health Organization Emergencies Director Dr Michael Ryan said on Friday that the United Nations agency was “pleased” to see China loosening some of its coronavirus restrictions, saying “it’s really important that governments listen to their people when the people are in pain”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a meeting with European Union officials in Beijing on Thursday, blamed the mass protests on youth frustrated by years of the pandemic but said the now-dominant Omicron variant of the virus paved the way for fewer restrictions, EU officials said.

Officials have just recently begun to downplay the dangers of Omicron, a significant change in messaging in a country where fear of COVID-19 has run deep.

Rooting out protesters

While authorities relax some of the COVID-19 restrictions, they are also detaining people who participated in recent protests. Police in cities such as Shanghai are checking commuters’ phones for apps or virtual private network software that the protesters used to communicate, according to protesters and social media posts.

On Saturday, police kept up a heavy presence on streets close to Shanghai’s Wulumuqi Road, named after Urumqi and the site of a vigil for the victims of the fire that turned into protests last weekend.

A similarly large police presence could be seen at east Beijing’s Liangmaqiao junction, as authorities sought to put off any potential follow-up to last weekend’s unrest.

China is the only major nation in the world still sticking to a “zero-COVID” strategy, which aims to isolate every infected person. The policy has been in place since the pandemic started in late 2019, resulting in instant lockdowns and mass testing of the public across China.



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