Australia gatecrashes World Cup last 16 after shock win over Denmark
Australia advanced to the World Cup round of 16 on Wednesday after a 1-0 win that condemned Denmark - a popular dark horse pick in Qatar - to bottom place in Group D.
The Socceroos surprisingly finished behind first-placed France in the quartet after Mathew Leckie's solo effort downed the Danes.
Moments before Leckie's goal, Tunisia briefly took the second spot when Wahbi Khazri scored in his side's concurrent 1-0 victory over defending World Cup champion France. That game wasn't short of drama, with Antoine Griezmann celebrating a volleyed equalizer deep into injury time before it was belatedly ruled offside.
Australia was widely expected to make up the numbers in Group D following an unconvincing qualification campaign to reach Qatar. The Aussies' hopes of reaching the tournament were threatened by a run of just one win in seven matches - a wretched streak that included dropped points against Saudi Arabia and Oman - but a tight win over the United Arab Emirates and a penalty shootout victory over Peru in the intercontinental playoff was enough to punch their ticket to the World Cup.
FIFA rankings before the 2022 World Cup began:
Australia will face the winner of Group C in the last 16. That could be either Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, or Mexico.
"No celebrations! That's why we won after a great win against Tunisia," Australia head coach Graham Arnold said after taking three points from Denmark. "No celebrations, no emotion - sleep and no social media."
Australia's progression marks the second time it has emerged from the group stage. In 2006, the Aussies finished below Brazil and above Croatia and Japan in the opening round before losing 1-0 to eventual champion Italy.