Argentina breeze past Poland to qualify as Group C winners

Argentina breeze past Poland to qualify as Group C winners

Argentina bounced back from their opening-day defeat to Saudi Arabia to soar into the round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar with a 2-0 victory over Poland at Stadium 974. Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Lionel Messi penalty and produced some more second-half heroics, but goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez were enough to secure the top spot in the group for the Copa America winners.

Despite their loss to Argentina, Poland snuck into the knockout rounds as the runners-up in the group due to a slightly better goal difference over Mexico.

Lionel Scaloni made two major changes to the Argentine XI for this fixture, with Enzo Fernandez and Julian Alvarez replacing Guido Rodriguez and Lautaro Martinez. The South American side dominated the possession from the first whistle and instantly pinned the Poles into their own half.

Lionel Messi had an early effort saved by Wojciech Szczesny, and the PSG forward orchestrated the play for the South Americans as he dropped deep into midfield. Julian Alvarez also had a shot on goal blocked by a Polish defender before Marcos Acuna’s strike off the resulting rebound narrowly missed the far post.

Wojciech Szczesny made another couple of saves to deny Julian Alvarez, but his biggest contribution of the night came towards the end of the half as he produced a magnificent save to keep out Lionel Messi’s penalty. Argentina were controversially awarded the spot-kick following a VAR check, but Messi’s penalty was brilliantly stopped by the outstretched arm of Szczesny to keep the scores level.

Argentina didn’t have to wait too long to eventually find an opening, and seconds after the second-half whistle, the South Americans found the back of the net through Alexis Mac Allister. The Brighton midfielder found a yard of space in the penalty area and neatly redirected a Nanuel Molina cross to send Argentina to the top of the group. Julian Alvarez doubled the scores 20 minutes later, receiving a pass from Enzo Fernandez before curling in a shot into the corner to put the game to bed.

Argentina should have had a third goal in the closing stages, but Wojciech Szczesny continued to bail out his defence while Jakub Kiwior made a late goal-line clearance to keep the score-line at 2-0. This result sees Argentina qualify for the knockout stages and set up a meeting with Australia in the round of 16.

Poland, meanwhile, will face the defending champions France on Sunday after their narrow escape from the group stages on goal difference.