Monday, May 20, 2024

FIFA World Cup 2022: Argentina outclass Poland despite Lionel Messi penalty miss to advance

Argentina outclass Poland
Argentina's Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring their first goal with Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi in Group C between Poland and Argentina at Stadium 974, Doha, Qatar, November 30, 2022 Photo by Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Doha, December 1 : Lionel Messi’s Argentina registered an impressive 2-0 win over Poland in their final World Cup Group C match at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday to advance to the knockout stage where they will face Australia.
The match saw skipper Lionel Messi missing a first half penalty but goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez helped the South American side to top of the group with 6 points.
Despite the defeat Poland finished second in the group and will take on reigning champions France.
In the other Group C match, Mexico scored twice in the second-half in a thrilling last-ditch effort to stay in the World Cup, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 but agonisingly missed out on the last 16 berth on goal difference.
After an action-packed goalless first half, Argentina took the lead just one minute into the second half when Allister got on the end of Nahuel Molina’s cross and, despite making weak contact, he saw his shot creep over the line with Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny beaten.
The goal was just reward for Argentina who had dominated possession while Poland barely managed to get out of their own half.
The second goal was the result of some patient buildup where Argentina knocked the ball around before Enzo Fernandez unlocked the defence with a through-ball for Julian Alvarez, who found space in the box and smashed it into the top corner.
Earlier, Poland were up in arms when Argentina were awarded a controversial penalty after a VAR check for a foul on Messi when Szczesny’s glove brushed his face as the Paris St Germain forward rose up for a header at the far post.
But Szczesny was up to the task and despite the thousands of Argentina fans raising the decibel levels inside the arena, he kept his composure and guessed correctly, diving to his left and using one hand to swat aside Messi’s effort from the spot.
Szczesny had been kept busy the entire half with the Poland defence breached time and again but the Juventus keeper stood firm to deny the Argentines who grew more confident with every attack.
He first denied Alvarez when the Manchester City forward broke through the offside trap before he tipped Angel Di Maria’s cross over the bar when his Juve team mate attempted to score directly from a corner kick.
But he could do nothing but scramble when Mac Allister took his shot even before Poland could settle down after the restart while Alvarez’s shot for the second goal was too good for any keeper.
Mexico exit on goal difference despite beating Saudi Arabia
Mexico scored twice in five second-half minutes in a thrilling last-ditch effort to stay in the World Cup on Wednesday, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 but agonisingly missing out on the last 16 on goal difference.
Goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez soon after the interval catapulted Mexico back into contention, but a string of superb saves by Saudi keeper Mohamed Al-Owais and two disallowed efforts denied the South Americans the elusive goal they needed to advance.
The match went right down to the wire and at one point looked like Mexico would miss out to Group C rivals Poland by virtue of having accrued more yellow cards, but Saudi striker Salem Al-Dawsari netted in stoppage time to make goal difference the decider.
Mexico’s exit ended a run of seven successive last-16 appearances at the World Cup and the defeat for Saudi Arabia killed off what had looked to be a realistic chance of advancing from the group stages for the first time in 28 years.
Having failed to score in their opening two Group C matches, Mexico’s chances of progressing had looked slim going into the match, hinging on the outcome of the game between Argentina and Poland which Argentina won 2-0 to top the group.
Urgently needing to beef up their goal difference, Mexico took the game to Saudi Arabia from the start and never stopped running, peppering the goal with long-range efforts in a desperate bid to wrest control of their own fate.
Orbelin Pineda and Chavez were the engines in a high-octane match that the Saudis struggled to get into, defending with desperation.
Mexico broke the deadlock two minutes after halftime, when Cesar Montes’s deft back-heel from a corner found Martin who bundled the ball over the line in a crowded goalmouth.
They doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Chavez’s powerful free kick 20 metres out sailed into the corner of the goal beyond the reach of Al-Owais, sparking wild Mexican celebrations on the field
Lozano found the net but his goal was disallowed and Mexico battled hard to get the decisive third but were denied constantly by the reflexes of Al-Owais in the Saudi goal.
Substitute Uriel Antuna had a stunning late effort disallowed for offside four minutes from time before Al-Dawsari shattered Mexican hopes when he grabbed a Saudi consolation goal deep into stoppage time.
(ToI With inputs from agencies/Agencies)