ROBERT Lewandowski is still searching for his first-ever World Cup goal after he missed a penalty, as Poland and Mexico played out a goalless draw in Group C at Stadium 964, Doha.
The 34-year-old was denied from the spot by Mexico’s 37-year-old captain Guillermo Ochoa just shy of the hour-mark.
It was the talking point of a game largely starved of drama. With three precious points up for grabs and an opportunity to take control of the group after Argentina were stunned by Saudi Arabia earlier on Tuesday, it proved to be a cagey affair.
In the first half, Poland played with an incredibly deep defensive line, inviting trouble and while Mexico had the lion’s share of possession and looked livelier in attack, they failed to do enough to trouble Poland’s rear-guard.
Hector Moreno and Alexis Vega were off-target with headed efforts, and just before the break, Jorge Sanchez’s right-footed shot from a tight angle forced an unconvincing save from Wojciech Szczesny, who was looking increasingly nervy in goal.
It was the only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, with Lewandowski touching the ball just once in the opposition box.
However, the Barcelona talisman was handed a golden opportunity when he won a penalty following a VAR check after being bundled over by Hector Moreno. But there were incredible scenes as Ochoa – appearing in his fifth World Cup – made a quite brilliant save to keep the scores level.
Mexico’s supporters responded as if they had scored a goal of their own and their team threatened to build on the momentum when Henry Martin’s header drew a fine save from Szczesny.
But the tempo dropped rapidly again, and it appeared, in the end, both sides were satisfied with the draw.
The result means Saudi Arabia end the day top of the group with three points. Mexico are back in action on Saturday when they play Argentina, the same day Poland play Saudi Arabia.
Talking point – Lewandowski – and Poland – pay the penalty
It hasn’t been a good day for those footballers viewed as the greatest in the game. After Lionel Messi’s Argentina were stunned by Saudi Arabia – in what will go down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history – Lewandowski’s missed penalty then ultimately cost Poland the chance to secure what would have been three precious points.
Lewandowski had just nine touches in the opposition penalty area at the 2018 World Cup and his frustration in the competition was upped a notch as he couldn’t find a way past veteran goalkeeper Ochoa.
Unfortunately, this one could prove extremely costly for his nation. Poland, of course, are hoping to make it to the knockout stages of the competition for the first time since 1986. Had they won here, their route to the last-16 would be much more straightforward. Now, however, they will need to get the better of a Saudi Arabia side that has already shown their potential.
Mexico, on the other hand, will turn their focus to an Argentina side hurting and desperate to make amends.
Player of the match – Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
Produced the moment of the night with a fantastic save to keep out Lewandowski’s low and hard penalty. It’s a stop he will take great pleasure in watching on repeat.
26’ – CLOSE! Mexico’s Vega out-jumps Cash to attack Lozano’s looping cross delivered from the right by-line. But his header is agonisingly wide of the far post. That’s the closest we’ve come to a goal so far.
28’ – NERVY MOMENT FOR POLAND! Szczesny races off his line after spotting the danger a through-ball brings – but he doesn’t get much contact on the ball. Gallardo’s eyes light up for a moment but the Poland goalkeeper is rescued by his defenders who scramble the danger clear.
58’ – THE PENALTY IS SAVED! Lewandowski is still searching for his World Cup goal as Ochoa dives to his right and saves his spot-kick! Unbelievable drama!
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
The Asian side, ranked 51st in the world, recorded just their fourth-ever tournament victory – and their second since 1994 – to end a 36-match unbeaten run from a star-studded Argentinian side led by Lionel Messi.
Messi’s bid to win international football’s biggest prize in his fifth and final appearance got off to the perfect start when he rolled in a penalty after just 10 minutes.
Argentina dominated the first half and had three goals disallowed, but they were left stunned by Saudi Arabia’s improvement after the break.
Superb finishes from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari in the space of four minutes turned the game on its head, and the Saudis defended bravely to see out one of the biggest results in their history.
Top: Robert Lewandowski of Poland misses the penalty during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 on November 22, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Pawel Andrachiewicz/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images and published by Eurosport
First insert: Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino stands on the sideline during a World Cup match against Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.Photo: AP/ Moises Castillo and published by Los Angeles Times
Second insert: Messi scored the opening goal but could do little to stop Argentina from falling to defeat. Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images and published by CNN
Front Page: Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa blocks a penalty kick by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski during a World Cup Group C match at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday. Photo: AP /Themba Hadebe and published by Los Angeles Times