Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2022. 3:56 pm CST.
Photo Credit: FIFA
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Argentina blanked Poland 2-0 but both qualified over Mexico and Saudi Arabia despite Mexico’s 2-1 win.
Argentina totalled six points. Both Poland and Mexico earned four points with Poland qualifying on goal difference.
Argentina pushed hard in an attempt to augment the lead, but the score remained at 2-0 at the 974 Stadium in Doha in front of 44,089 fans. When the game ended, Poland weren’t sure of their ticket as Mexico was winning 2-0 and had had two penalty kicks ruled offside. Mexico kept pushing forward but kept missing opportunities. Saudi Arabia, who seemed to have given up, made a counterattack and proved successful when Salem Aldawsari scored deep into injury time. The Polish team erupted in celebration as they had just received their ticket to the Round of 16.
Argentina controlled the match from the onset.
Messi missed a penalty in the 39th minute sending a hard shot to the right side but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęzny read Messi’s intention well and made a superb save, scooping the ball away. This was Szczęsny’s second save of the tournament. Messi was fouled in the previous play when he went to head the ball but was fouled by Szczęsny.
Argentina controlled the pace of the first half against Poland but were unable to score despite their incursions into the Polish defense including the missed the penalty kick by Messi.
However, as the second half started Argentina got on the scoreboard courtesy of Alexis Mac Allister in the 46th minute with a low shot from right to left. Szczęsny stretched his arms as much as he could but just could not get to the ball. Argentina led 1-0 at the 974 Stadium.
They made it 2-0 in the 67th minute. Julian Alvarez cut through the middle in the penalty area connecting with a pass from Enzo Fernandez, hammered upward, and nailed Szczęzny.
That score put Mexico level with Poland such that fair play points would have been necessary to decide who would qualify.
Argentina kept pushing forward to improve on their score and towards the end had a great opportunity in the 92nd minute of the game but a Polish defender kicked the ball off. Had the shot scored it would have qualified Mexico over Poland.
But it was not to be for Mexico, and Poland moved on along with Argentina.
In the next round, Argentina will play Australia and Poland will face France.
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