Argentina defeated Poland 2-0 to qualify for the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup as group winners after a shocking opening game defeat.
Argentina made four changes to the team that defeated Mexico in their last World Cup group game, while Poland made only one change from the team that beat Saudi Arabia.
Poland; Wojciech Szczesny, Bartosz Bereszynski, Jakub Kiwior, Kamil Glik, Matty Cash, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Krystian Bielik, Piotr Zielinski, Robert Lewandowski, Karol Swiderski.
Argentina: Emiliano Martinez, Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Otamendi, Cristian Romero, Nahuel Molina, Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Julian Alvarez.
Head to Head
Argentina and Poland have met twice in FIFA World Cup with a win apiece. It was their third meeting in the competition, with Argentina tipped to break the tie this time
Meanwhile, it was the first meeting between both teams after they clashed in a FIFA friendly in 2011, with Argentina emerging 2-1 winners.
Poland is among the few European clubs that have secured a good record against South American opponents in World Cup games. They have won four of their first seven FIFA World Cup games against South American sides while losing each of their last three in the competition.
Argentina needed to win to boost their round of 16 chances, while Mexico needed just a draw to stand a chance of qualifying from the group.
First Half Report
Argentina started on a good note and dominated play as the first half began, with Poland retreating to their own half.
In the second minute, Poland conceded a corner kick after Angel Di Maria tried to push through the flanks.
Messi, who was making his 22nd World Cup appearance, overtaking Diego Maradona, took the corner but was cleared by Poland.
Argentina continued to dominate play and increased pressure on Poland for an early goal but could not make anything happen.
Poland’s first drive out of their own half came in the fourth minute, but the Argentine defence blocked their effort on goal.
Argentina were the better side throughout the game and were getting closer to an opener as the game progressed, with more chances created.
In the 38th minute, they finally got a golden chance to take the lead after the center referee awarded a penalty following a controversial tackle on Lionel Messi.
Messi took the penalty, and it was a sad one as Poland goalkeeper Szczesny saved it to keep the score at a 0-0 draw.
Argentina still maintained dominance after the missed penalty but could not break the goal deadlock and ended the first half on a barren note.
Second Half Report
Both teams filed into the pitch for the last 45 minutes of play, with Argentina being the better side and needing a win to make it to the next round.
A minute into the second half, Argentina found the opening goal courtesy of Marc Allister’s strike. Allister converted Molina’s cross into the bottom left corner to give Argentina a deserved lead.
Poland were the weeping opponent as they could do little to counter Argentina’s dominance and rarely tested the Argentine goalkeeper.
The Argentines continued to dominate proceedings and missed some glaring chances to double the lead.
In the 62nd minute, they finally buried the game with a second goal. Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez scored from close range to double the lead.
Despite going two goals up, Argentina made a massive statement with the quality in the side as they held sway over the Polish team and nearly got a third goal in stoppage time.
The game finally ended with Argentina brushing aside an opening defeat to Saudi Arabia to qualify for the round of 16 as group winners.