Poland vs Argentina 0-2: Lewandowski and Co Saved by the Bell

Argentina and Poland landed hand in hand into the World Cup knockout stage as the South Americans won 2-0 the final confrontation of Group C. The Albiceleste thus certified their definitive resurrection after shockingly losing their first game, while Poland sneaked into the second round as they had a better goal difference than Mexico.

Saudi Arabia’s late goal that set the score at 1-2 versus Mexico certified Poland’s qualification. However, even if the Saudis didn’t score, Poland would have advanced on a fair play rule, having accumulated less yellow cards that the Central Americans.

Whatever the reason, Poland did manage to book their spot into the last 16 for the first time in 36 years but had little to be proud about. Their performance, especially in the last part of the game, was appalling as Czesław Michniewicz’s band appeared dazed, scared, and just hopeful that Argentina wouldn’t want to score any more goals.

Wojciech Szczesny was the only man to draw a round of applause among the Polish lines as he denied Leo Messi from the spot with a fantastic save. However, he could not do much in the second half when Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez found the back of the net, setting the score at 2-0.   

Coach Lionel Scaloni deployed the Albiceleste in a 4-3-3 fashion as Lautaro Martinez dropped to the bench and was replaced by Julian Alvarez. Poland answered with a 4-4-2 formation with Karol Swiderski ideally partnering with Robert Lewandowski upfront. 

That was the idea at least, as the Polish side seemed to be completely giving up any offensive intention. Argentina, on the other hand, were aggressive from the get-go and gave quite a few problems to the Juventus goalkeeper. 

After Szczesny denied Messi at the near post, the two squared off again from the penalty spot on 38 minutes. The referee allowed a penalty when the goalkeeper hit Messi in an attempt to clear a cross. It was a controversial call, but the Juventus goalie slapped away the ball from La Pulce‘s conversion attempt. A phenomenal save, and the second penalty in a row denied by Szczesny. 

Right after the restart though, Argentina drew first blood as Nahuel Molina exchanged the ball with Angel Di Maria before picking Alexis Mc Allister in the middle of the box. This time, Szczesny had no answer to the Brighton midfielder’s volley. 

Poland had a sudden reaction as Kamil Glik headed the ball narrowly out of target but that was really the only chance produced by Michniewicz’s side across the whole game. Lewandowski appeared desperately alone upfront and barely saw the ball. The Poles still had the goal difference advantage over Mexico and seemed to be relying only on that.

However, things changed in the space of a few minutes. First, the Mexicans puts two goals between them and Saudi Arabia in the space of five minutes. Then, Argentina doubled their lead with a spectacular one-touch action finalized by Alvarez with an absolute screamer into the top right corner of the net. 

At that point, Mexico and Poland were tied for points, goal difference, and goals scored. However, Poland had only five players booked versus the Central Americans’ seven and would thus progress on grounds of fair play.

The last twenty minutes of the match thus saw Argentina slow down the tempo and make the ball circulate, while Poland defended themselves with 11 men and tried not to commit any foul. The Albiceleste still came close to adding a third of their tally, but substitute Lautaro Martinez was wasteful as he took advantage of a Jakub Kiwior defensive blunder.

The Spezia defender then redeemed himself as he cleared a Nicolas Tagliafico lob shot right on the goal line. Polonia somehow managed to hold until the end and were saved by their fair play despite a very poor performance. Saudi Arabia’s late goal didn’t change the fact that the Poles spent the last part of the game only relying on their minor number of players booked.  

Argentina will next face Australia on Saturday in the Round of 16 while Poland will square off against Kylian Mbappe’s France the following day. 



November 30, 2022 – FIFA World Cup Group C

SCORERS: 46′ Mac Allister, 67′ J. Alvarez

POLAND (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior, Bereszynski (72′ Jedrzejczyk); Zielinski, Krychowiak (83′ Piatek), Bielik (62′ Szymanski), Frankowski (46′ Kaminski); Swiderski (46′ Skoras), Lewandowski (Skorupski, Grabara, Wieteska, Bednarek, Milik, Szymanski, Grosicki, Zurkowski, Zalewski, Gumny) Coach: Michniewicz
ARGENTINA (4-3-3): E. Martinez; Molina, Otamendi, Romero, Acuna (59′ Tagliafico); De Paul, Fernandez (79′ Pezzella), Mac Allister (83′ Almada); Di Maria (59′ Paredes), Messi, Alvarez (79′ Lautaro Martinez) (Armani, Rulli, Foyth, Montiel, Palacios, Correa, Gomez, Guido, Dybala, L. Martinez) Coach: Scaloni
REFEREE: Mr. Makkelie (Netherlands)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Krychowiak (P), Acuna (A); Added Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 6′
Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football