FIFA World Cup Group C got off to a crazy start on Matchday 1. Saudi Arabia pulled off an incredible upset as they beat Argentina 2-1 and then Poland and Mexico played to a 0-0 draw due to Guillermo Ochoa’s heroics.
Today brought another opportunity to watch Group C in action. Coming into the first contest of this group today between Saudi Arabia and Poland, there were questions facing both sides.
Could Saudi Arabia pull off another “upset” and be the first country to clinch a spot in the round of sixteen with a win? On the other hand, could Poland score their first goal of the tournament and pick up some points before they play Argentina on Matchday 3?
All of these questions were subsequently answered as the sides took to the field at the Education City Stadium in Qatar.
Poland beat Saudi Arabia in a thrilling World Cup group stage match
This game was fun to watch from the start as each team was trying to land the first punch. Saudi Arabia had an outstanding chance in the 13th minute, but Wojciech Szczęsny made a nice save to divert the ball over his crossbar.
The challenges continued to fly in and Poland got two yellow cards in the 14th and 15th minutes for bad tackles. Jakub Kiwior got the first yellow and Matty Cash was assessed the second one. Poland was given a third yellow card for another challenge by Arkadiusz Milik in the 19th minute.
Although Saudi Arabia was the better of the two sides in the first period, Poland was the first team to convert. Poland opened up the scoring in the 39th minute courtesy of a great first-time strike from Piotr Zieliński.
There was drama just before the halftime whistle as there was a VAR review for a penalty after a Saudi player was fouled in the attacking box. After the check, the penalty was awarded and Salem Aldawsari stepped up to try to equalize the game before halftime.
Szczęsny stepped up in a major way for the second time in the first half as he dove to his right and stopped the penalty and then made another incredible save to stop the subsequent rebound. This incredible double save will definitely be one of the plays of the tournament.
Neither side had any great opportunities in first half injury time and Poland survived the opening period with a 1-0 lead.
The second half started the same as the first half and Saudi Arabia looked the more threatening to score. In the 55th minute, Saudi Arabia had another great opportunity to equalize in Poland’s 6-yard box, but Szczęsny made another impressive save to keep the ball out and keep Poland ahead.
In the 60th minute, the Saudis had another great chance but Feras Albrikan skyed his shot over the net. Just a minute later, the same thing happened again, as Saudi Arabia delivered another shot but it flew over Szczęsny’s goal.
In the 63rd minute, Poland had a rare opportunity to increase their lead to two goals as Poland delivered a cross into the center of the Saudi Arabia box. Milik had a free header in the middle of the box but unfortunately for Poland, he hit the crossbar of the Saudia Arabia net.
Just minutes later, Poland was again inches from increasing their lead as Robert Lewandowski hit the post of the Saudi net.
Saudi Arabia had one of their best chances to level the scoreline in the 68th minute as they were awarded a free kick just outside of Poland’s box, but they blasted their free kick into the Poland wall.
Ten minutes later, Saudi Arabia had another great opportunity but Abdulelah Al Malki just missed the net and went out for a goal kick.
From then on, Saudi Arabia delivered every attacking ball into Poland’s defensive box in an effort to tie the match, but Poland stood strong to deny the Saudis.
Poland was able to increase their lead to 2-0 in the 82nd minute against the run of play as Robert Lewandowski took advantage of an error by a Saudi Arabia defender at the edge of his defensive box, and slotted the ball past the Saudi goalkeeper. This was Lewandowski’s first career World Cup goal.
Lewandowski had a chance for a double in the 90th minute but was denied by Mohammed Al-Owais. Injury time of the match remained uneventful and Poland hung on to win 2-0 and picked up their first win of the 2022 World Cup.
Both teams still have a chance to advance
With today’s result, both teams can advance to the knockout stages on the final matchday. The scenarios on how both of these sides can advance will depend on the result of the Argentina versus Mexico match, scheduled for 2:00 p.m. eastern time today.
Currently, Poland leads the group with four points from two games, while Saudi Arabia is in second place with three points in two games. Mexico is in third with one point from their opening match and Argentina sits in last place with zero points through one match.
The winner of this group will play the second placed side from Group D, while the second placed team in Group C will take on the winners of Group C in the round of sixteen. Group D features Australia, Denmark, France, and Tunisia.
Poland and Saudi Arabia will finish their World Cup group stage on Wednesday, Nov. 30th, as Poland and Argentina will match up and Saudi Arabia will face Mexico at the same time.