Messi’s title dream lives on – Argentina after beating Poland in the World Cup round of 16

Status: 11/30/2022 10:15 p.m

Argentina won the last game of Group C against Poland 2-0 (0-0) – despite a missed penalty by Messi. The “Albiceleste” can continue to dream of the world title. And Poland, thanks to a better goal difference, is second in front of Mexico.

Argentina versus Poland was also the duel between superstars Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, the seven-time world footballer met the current one. But someone else attracted particular attention: Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny thwarted numerous chances and even fended off a penalty from Messi. He couldn’t prevent the victory of the Argentines, who were overwhelmingly superior, but not. After a goalless first half, Mac Allister (46′) and Julian Alvarez (68′) scored.

The victory means Argentina are group winners and will meet Australia in the round of 16. Poland is second ahead of Mexico on goal difference and will face world champions France in the round of 16. “Sometimes defeat is bittersweet,” said Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz.

Messi has the first scene – Poland is low

Messi first drew attention when he was played centrally in front of the penalty area, dribbled at high speed into the box and shot from a tight angle (10′). Poland goalkeeper Szczesny saved. But despite the first dangerous finish, it became apparent early on how difficult the task would be for Messi and Argentina: Poland were deep, defending at times with ten players around their own penalty area and leaving Argentina’s offensive little space. Patience was required.

Argentina’s idea was to combine quick, low passes into the back of the Polish defense to then be able to lay off dangerously. The “Albiceleste” did it for the first time after just under half an hour, but Szczesny was able to parry Julian Alvarez’s attempt and Marcos Acuna, who landed on the rebound, shot just wide of the right post with his left.

Messi misses penalty – Szczesny best Pole

Messi and Co. increased the pressure, created chances and were then awarded a controversial penalty. Messi rose to a header after a cross and was touched in the face by Szczesny. Referee Danny Makkelie watched the scene on the video screen and awarded a penalty – a tough decision.

Messi stepped up himself, shot hard into the top right corner, but Poland’s keeper Szczesny suspected that, flew into the corner, jerked his right arm up and blocked Messi’s shot (39′). He had already saved a penalty against Saudi Arabia.

It was thanks to him alone that the Polish team saved the 0-0 lead at half-time despite the Argentinians’ superiority. In the end, he saved not only Messi’s penalty, but also another shot from Alvarez, who had tried it from a distance.

Mac Allister puts Argentina ahead

The second half was only 54 seconds old when Szczesny had to admit defeat. Ángel di Maria and Nahuel Molina combined through the right touchline, Molina’s low cross reached Alexis Mac Allister, who shot low into the left corner (46′). Poland’s keeper was annoyed that his defenders lost track of Mac Allister – Poland’s first goal of the tournament.

And it didn’t seem to shock the team at first, because just a few moments later they had their best chance so far: Kamil Glik headed just wide from a free kick.

Argentina’s Alvarez raises

But it was the only good scene of the Poles in the second round. As before the break, Argentina were better and pushed for more goals. It’s not surprising that Alvarez made it 2-0 with a flick into the top right corner (68′) after Enzo Fernandez released him. Poland didn’t get back into the game, Argentina played themselves into a frenzy and could have added the third goal with Messi (Szczesny saved), Alvarez (shot at the side netting) and Lautaro Martinez (shot off target).

Because Szczesny also defused a lob from Nicolás Tagliafico shortly before the end, the score remained 2-0. Argentina celebrated after the final whistle – and the result also meant that Poland had reached the round of 16. In the parallel game, Mexico won against Saudi Arabia, but scored a goal too few.

First a missed penalty by Messi, then the two deserved goals – the highlights from the World Cup group match between Poland and Argentina.

Mexico beat Saudi Arabia in the last group game and even get some support from Argentina. In the end, a goal for the round of 16 is missing.

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