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HomeSportMihlali Baleka’s top five matches at the Qatar World Cup

Mihlali Baleka’s top five matches at the Qatar World Cup

Johannesburg — The Qatar World Cup was full of upsets, with a handful of favourites enduring unfavourable results against so-called smaller teams.

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Below, Mihlali Baleka picks his top five matches from the World Cup, including the final.

France v Argentina

A final for the ages

The World Cup final between France and Argentina was a dream, as the two former champions squared off at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday night.

And boy, did they deliver. They were inseparable after extra time after a 3-3 draw, before Argentina won 4-2 on penalties. It should not have been that dramatic.

Argentina were cruising to victory at 2-0 up, but two goals in as many minutes from Kylian Mbappe in the second half set up a thrilling conclusion, one that will be remembered fondly in the annals of history.

Morocco v Portugal

Atlas Lions make history

Since the establishment of the World Cup in 1930, there had been no African team that qualified for the semi-finals in 21 previous editions.

But the north African side defied history and the odds in Qatar to do just that. The 1-0 win in the last-eight encounter was all the more sweeter as it came against Cristiano Ronaldo’s mighty Portugal.

France v England

An age old rivalry renewed

Having won the World Cup 56 years ago, England were tipped to go all the way this year, especially due to the act that they were also the European finalists last year.

However, defending champions France nullified England’s threat as they beat the English 2-1 in the quarter-finals to set a date with Morocco in the semis.

It was a thrilling encounter between the old foes and the Three Lions did a stellar job of limiting their opponents’ attacking prowess.

Argentina v Saudi Arabia

A group stage upset no one saw coming

Tipped as one of the favourites to win the World Cup, Argentina got a rude awakening as they lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their opening game.

That win meant a lot to the Saudis, so much so that their government declared the following day, November 23, a public holiday.

Ghana v Uruguay

A group stage revenge story

After Uruguay’s notorious and dramatic win over Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, the Black Stars were looking for revenge in Qatar and passage to the knockout stage.

Instead, a Luis Suarez-inspired Uruguay won the match 2-0 to deny the African nation.

Ghana might have been dumped out of the tournament, but they had done just enough to deny their tormentors’ progression as well – a bitter-sweet ending for both teams in Qatar.

@Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport

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