Lewandowski, Mbappe and Messi – the day solo stars shone: Five takeaways from day seven of World Cup 2022

Lionel Messi, Argentina
Lionel Messi, Argentina (Image credit: Getty Images)

World Cup 2022 is whizzing by, with the second round of games now halfway done – and Groups C and D are one step closer to completion. 

Saturday saw heartwarming celebrations (Australia), incredible atmospheres (Argentina and Mexico) and one legend grab his first ever World Cup goal (wait and see).

Here's what we took from day seven:

Robert Lewandowski does the business

Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia

(Image credit: Getty)

Robert Lewandowski is a goal machine: scorer of more than 300 Bundesliga goals and his nation's leading marksman. Yet he had never scored a World Cup goal - albeit in only four previous games.

At 34, it appeared as if time might be running out for the Pole to bag a goal on the biggest stage. That was, until the 82nd minute against Saudi Arabia. Finding himself alone in front of goal following a defensive error, the big man slotted home with typical composure to register his first-ever World Cup goal. 

He was so happy to finally chalk the latest milestone off his enviable list of achievements that he cried... and some claim footballers don't really care about the beautiful game. Lovely stuff. 

Australia might be dark horses

Australia goal scorer Mitchell Duke

(Image credit: Getty)

For 18 first-half minutes against France, Australia looked like they might just be dark horses at this World Cup. They'd taken an early lead, and pressed and hustled like dingos in a bid to hold on against the reigning world champions. 

It didn't work out, with Les Bleus brutally putting them to the sword after Olivier Giroud levelled the scores. The game ended 4-1 to France and Australia looked down and out.

But their response against Tunisia was admirable. They weren't always the better team, but they showed the grit and determination that got them to Qatar in the first place. Mitchell Duke scored a fantastic goal, combining raw power and pace with technical quality and a splash of invention. His goal, a backwards header, proved the game's only breakthrough, and Australia fans will be hoping a draw against Denmark in their final game will be enough to take them through. Do that, and few of the big guns will relish playing a side with their tenacity and passion. 

Mbappe brilliance could power France on again

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring for France against Denmark in the teams' World Cup clash in Qatar.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He now has as many France goals as Zinedine Zidane and more World Cup goals than Thierry Henry.

Yes, while France are missing Kante, Pogba and Benzema from their squad, while Kylian Mbappe is in the team, you can't discount them from winning a second-successive World Cup.

Les Bleus became the first side to qualify for the knockout stages, and while they don't look unstoppable, Kylian and co. have marked themselves out as the early team to beat.

Can Messi do the same for Argentina?

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Argentina against Mexico at the 2022 World Cup.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Argentina looked hopelessly poor for an hour of their game against Mexico – with ITV pundits even questioning (shock, horror) Lionel Messi's application.

But a moment of brilliant from old Leo set the side alive, and they were much improved for the final half an hour.

Can even an ageing Messi inspire Argentina on... and on and on? He may be their only hope.

Remember VAR?

General view of the scoreboard showing the VAR decision as Ecuador's early effort is ruled out against Qatar in the World Cup's opening match.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Exactly zero contentious VAR decisions on day seven. What on earth do FIFA expect football journalists to write about?

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.

With contributions from