Lewandowski misses penalty as Poland settles for frustrating draw with Mexico

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022 21:15 | By
Lewandowski misses penalty as Poland settles for frustrating draw with Mexico
Robert Lewandowski after he missed the penalty spot kick. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Despite dictating general play, Mexico had goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to thank for securing a point against Poland in their opening match in Group C.

An open first-half looked likely to bring goals, with Ernesto Vega going closest with a header. Poland stopper Wojciech Szczesny was in good form himself, keeping out a string of chances towards the end of the period.

This pattern continued in the second 45 minutes — Mexico would win a midfield battle, play it to either Vega or Hirving Lozano, and then lob a cross into the box.

The 0-0 result was the second goalless draw of the tournament, following the Denmark vs Tunisia result immediately before.

The key moment

In the 54th minute, referee Chris Beath was called over to the VAR monitor to see if Lewandowski was pulled back in the box by Mexico defender Hector Moreno, moments before he fell headlong into Ochoa.

Though not given on the pitch, it only took Beath two replays to award the spot-kick. A cacophony of boos from the raucous Mexican support soundtracked the decision.

All was set for Lewandowski to send Poland to the top of the group — only for Ochoa, playing in his fifth World Cup, to spring low to his right to save the penalty.

Player of the match

Hirving Lozano and Ernesto Vega contributed the majority of Mexico’s threat, cutting inside dangerously throughout the game. Ultimately, however, they could not score.

Ochoa was the reason Mexico took a point away from this game, so with that in mind, the player of the match award can only go to the curly-haired keeper from Jalisco.

Key statistic

This was the 17th penalty save of Ochoa’s career, and the fourth saved for Mexico, while Lewandowski had scored 89.9 per cent of his spot-kicks. When an irresistible force met an immovable object, Ochoa’s dynamism won through.

What does it mean?

A missed opportunity for both teams to take control of Group C, especially after favourites Argentina lost their opener 2-1 against Saudi Arabia.

Poland have not made it out the group stages since 1986, and now face the prospect of overhauling leaders Saudi Arabia, while bettering Mexico and Argentina’s results.

Mexico have made the round of 16 at each of the last seven tournaments — they know how to navigate a group stage, but will likely need to beat Saudi Arabia to progress.

What next?

Poland play Saudi Arabia, Argentina’s vanquishers, at 1pm (GMT) on Saturday November 26. Argentina face old rivals Mexico later that evening at 7pm (GMT), needing a result to stay in the World Cup.

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