Argentina beat Poland 2-0 at stadium 974 as both teams qualified for Round 16 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

 Szesney Keeps Poland In the Game


Argentina was the dominant team in the first half while Poland mostly sat back and soaked the pressure. In the 6th minute, Lionel Messi had the first real attempt at goal in the game as he regained possession after getting dispossessed and hit a low effort from outside the box, saved comfortably by Szesney.  

In the 9th minute, Di Maria played a pass from the right that found Messi in a central position. In a classic Messi move, the skipper took the ball on his left foot, drew a couple of defenders in by faking a shot, and then suddenly accelerated inside the box before forcing another save out of Szesney on the near post.

Minute 28 and Di Maria spots Molina’s overlapping run on the right towards the byline and slides the ball in his path, as he cuts the ball back to Alvarez in the middle, whose shot is saved by Szczesny. The rebound lands on the feet of Ocuna on the left edge of the box, whose attempt just curls away from the goal.

Argentina continued their rampant attacks on Poland as Mac Aliister made a breezy run past the Polish midfield to curate a perfectly time through ball for Alvarez who took a touch to get himself an angle before dispatching a shot on the near post, saved again by Szczesny. Alvarez then got on the rebound and sent a cross on the far post for a leaping Messi, who was brought down by a hand in the face by a diving Szczesny. PENALTY!

Image: The Athletic

Messi stepped up and would have buried the pen in the top corner but for a brilliant save by Szczesny, who was single-handedly keeping the South Americans at bay in the first half. In the 42nd minute, Argentina came close again, as Alvarez got the ball inside the box on the left. Di Maria drew the attention of one of the defenders watching Alvarez with a decoy run, allowing the young NO. 9 to cut inside and take a shot at goal. Szczesny was again up to the task and the rebound header by De Paul also didn’t cause much trouble to the Polish shot-stopper.

Argentina Step On The Accelerator

A couple of seconds into the second half Argentina took the lead. Some good bit of interplay between Di Maria and Molina freed the latter to run to the byline and deliver an inch-perfect cut-back inside the box for Mac Allister to arrive and place it smoothly in the far corner, finishing across his body.

Image: The Athletic

In the 67th minute, Argentina made it 2-0. Fernandez cuts inside his marker from the middle of the park and lays the ball on the feet of Alvarez inside the box. The Man City boy wonder takes a touch to control the ball, another to shift it away from the defender and into space before curling an effort into the top corner. BRILLIANT!

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In the 70th minute, Poland almost had their hearts in their mouths when Fernandez’s darting run on the left was followed by a cut-back from him into the center of the box, finding a lurking Lionel Messi, whose first-time shot was saved point blank by Szczesny.

Argentina went on to have a period of quiet possession, stroking the ball around. However, they again turned it up a notch in the first minute of extra time. Martinez received the ball from Messi with his back to the goal. He passed it on the turn to Almada, who rolled it in the path of Tagliafico, who dinked it over the keeper but the Polish defense cleared the ball off the line.

Argentina Finish Top

Argentina’s victory ensured that not only did they qualify but also go through as group winners to the Round of 16. Mexico defeating Saudi by one goal margin and Poland losing by just two goals also confirmed Robert Lewandowski’s place in the next stage.

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Pragynesh has completed his Masters degree in political science from Calcutta University and is a former research intern of Foreign Policy Research Center. He writes on topics related to geopolitics, political economy and international security.


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