Poland vs Saudi Arabia 2-0: Lewandowski Breaks World Cup Curse!

Poland relaunched their World Cup campaign after a lackluster debut as Robert Lewandowski finally managed to open his scoring account on the world stage. They beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan on Saturday but the scorecard doesn’t tell the fully story tough as the Saudis were the best team on the pitch for long stretches of time. 

Poland were cynical yet efficient when needed while Hervé Renard’s side confirmed the good impression made when they shocked Argentina on their debut, but were denied by a Wojciech Szczesny in magnificent form and lost their focus at the worst possible time.

All in all, an “ugly” win for the Eastern Europeans. The gods of football will not like it but you do need these kinds of win as well to go far in a World Cup. 

Coach Czeslaw Michniewicz deployed a lineup studded with Serie A players, with 6 out of 11 starters featuring in Italy. Arek Milik was deployed from the start together with Piotr Zielinski behind Lewandowski.

Pushed by a gigantic green wave of supporters on the stands, the Saudis showed no fear and were the ones to push more from the start. On 12 minutes, Mohamed Kanno drew a save from Szczesny with a tricky right foot shot. 

Poland tried to serve Lewandowski upfront but the Barcelona star was well restrained by Hervé Renard’s defense. Still, the Poles broke the deadlock from their very first chance. It happened on 39 minutes, when Matty Cash finally managed to pick Lewa in the box.

Goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais defused the challenge with a timely slide exit, but Lewandowski was quick to recover the ball and pass it to Zielinski, who could easily slot it into the untended goal.  

The Polish lead could have lasted only a few minutes tough, as Krystian Bielik came up with a slight push on Al-Shehri in the box and that was enough for the referee to allow a penalty. The Juventus custodian was phenomenal in the occasion, saving not only the spot kick from Salem Al Dawsari but also the subsequent tap in attempt from Mohammed Alburayk. 

Szczesny was decisive again on 54 minutes, denying Al Dawsari again from close range at the end of a chaotic action. Saudi Arabia continued to push and frankly should have had an equalizer. Their team combination on 59 minutes, in particular, deserved a better outcome but Feras Al-Buraikan whipped the ball above the bar after brilliantly freeing himself from his marker. 

Poland somehow legitimized their lead as they hit the posts twice in the space of a few minutes. Milik’s header from a Przemyslaw Frankowski cross slammed into the bar, then Lewandowski continued to delay his rendezvous with the scorecard as he clumsily deflected with his knee a low-range cross into the post.  

When Arabia started to run out of breath and lose concentration, the Poles stroke again. Their second goal was gift-wrapped by deep-lying midfielder Abdullah Al-Malki, who just a few minutes later had come close to scoring with a sharp left foot shot that run inches wide of Szczesny’s post. 

Al-Malki’s defensive blunder was colossal as he got the ball stolen by Lewandowski. All alone against the keeper, the Barcelona forward could just not miss this one, finally breaking his World Cup curse. 

Lewandowski would have gladly added a second to his tally but Al Owais, one of the best goalkeepers seen so far in Qatar, denied him a brace as he won a one-on-one duel and kept the score at 0-2.  

Depending on how Argentina fare against Mexico tonight, this could become one of the most balanced groups in the competition. 



November 26, 2022 – FIFA World Cup Group C

SCORERS: 39′ Zielinski, 82′ Lewandowski

POLAND (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior; Bereszynski, Krychowiak, Bielik, Francowski; Zielinski (63′ Kaminski) ; Milik (73′ Piatek 6), Lewandowski (Skorupski, Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Bednarek, D. Szymanski, Grosicki, Swiderski, Zurkowski, S. Szymanski, Zalewski, Grabara, Gumny, Skoras) Coach: Michniewicz
SAUDI ARABIA (4-3-3): Al Owais; Abdulhamid, Al Amri, Al-Boleahi, Al-Burayk (65′ Al Ghannam); Al Malki (85′ Al Oboud), Kanno; Al-Buraikan, Al-Najei (46′ Al Abed, 95′ Bahebri), S. Al-Dawsari; Al-Shehri (85′ N. Al Dawsari) (Al Yami, Al-Ghannam, Madu, Otayf, Alhassan, Altambakti, Alaqidi, Asiri) Coach: Renard
REFEREE: Mr. Sampaio (Brazil)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Cash, Kiwior, Milik (P), Al-Malki, Al Amri (S); Added Time: 1st Half 10′, 2nd Half 7′
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