Lionel Messi had a penalty saved however Argentina booked its ticket to the knockout part of the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Poland.
Alexis Mac Allister’s scuffed effort 60 seconds into the second half broke the impasse earlier than Julián Álvarez’s sensible curled shot sealed the three factors as Argentina superior as Group C winners.
The opener got here after Messi, Argentina’s all-time prime goalscorer, had his penalty saved by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
Álvarez’s elegant end halfway by way of the second half capped off a nail-biting night for Argentina, who will now face Australia.
Poland superior to the knockout levels by the pores and skin of its tooth, qualifying on purpose distinction.
The opposite Group C recreation was an exhilarating affair, Mexico beating Saudi Arabia 2-1, however the win wasn’t sufficient for the Central American staff and Poland will now play France in a last-16 match on Sunday.
Not for the primary time in his profession, all of the strain laid firmly at Messi’s door, the 35-year-old endlessly striving to emerge from the lengthy shadow which Diego Maradona has solid over the Argentina nationwide aspect.
Taking part in in his 999th skilled match, Messi regarded up for the problem, troubling Poland from the opening minute.
Whereas the Polish assault supplied little or no all through the sport, Argentina cranked up the strain – and each Messi and left-back Marcos Acuña coming shut.
Argentina was supplied a terrific likelihood to interrupt the impasse when the video assistant referee adjudged that Messi had been fouled by Wojciech Szczęsny when he was hit within the face by the Polish goalkeeper’s flailing hand.
Nonetheless, Messi’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Szczęsny’s who someway beat the ball away one-handed.
It was the crowning second of a busy first half for Szczęsny, who completed the opening 45 minutes with 9 saves to his title as Argentina piled on the strain.
The penalty save was Szczęsny’s second of the event already and he grew to become solely the second goalkeeper since 1966 to avoid wasting a penalty on the World Cup having conceding it himself, after Joel Bats for France towards Brazil in 1986, in line with Opta Stats.
It took slightly below 60 seconds for Argentina to interrupt the impasse after the break.
A reduce cross from proper again Nahuel Molina fell to the ft of Mac Allister whose scuffed effort simply managed to sneak previous Szczęsny and ship Stadium 974 into delirium.
It was Mac Allister’s first worldwide purpose, and continues his wonderful 12 months – he got here to this World Cup as the highest scorer for his Premier League membership, Brighton and Hove Albion, this season.
That purpose appeared to chill out the Argentina gamers and followers inside the bottom. Messi, Álvarez and Ángel Di María started to activate the aptitude, toying with the Poland protection.
Halfway by way of the second half, Álvarez confirmed why he’d been introduced in for this recreation – he’d began the primary two group video games on the bench – curling dwelling to get his first World Cup purpose.
With Poland opening up at it tried to claw itself again within the recreation, extra areas opened up for Argentina, with Messi, Álvarez and Lautaro Martínez all going shut.
Group C’s conclusion should have been an agonizing look ahead to Poland’s followers.
For a short time frame in the course of the match, Poland and Mexico have been tied on purpose distinction. That meant Poland was slated to advance through its higher disciplinary file.
With Poland followers checking their telephones furiously to maintain tabs on proceedings and with all eyes on whether or not any Polish gamers picked up a yellow card, there was one final twist to Wednesday’s proceedings.
That was delivered by Salem Al Dawsari’s Ninety fifth-minute purpose which gave Poland had a superior purpose distinction, assuring it’s development to the following stage.