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FIFA World Cup PIX: Plucky Poland down Saudi to close in on last 16

Last updated on: November 26, 2022 21:20 IST
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IMAGES from the FIFA World Cup Group C match played between Poland and Saudi Arabia at Education City Stadium on Saturday.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring their team's second goal

IMAGE: Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring their team's second goal. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski scored his first ever World Cup goal as Poland brought Saudi Arabia back down to earth with a bump on Saturday with an 2-0 Group C victory that rejuvenated their tournament campaign.

 

Lewandowski, who missed a penalty in Poland's opening draw with Mexico and was visibly emotional after finding the net, pounced on a mistake in the 82nd minute to double Poland's lead after Piotr Zielinski had given them a first-half lead.

After completing one of the tournament's greatest ever shocks when they cut Argentina down to size in their opener, the Saudis, who failed to convert a first-half penalty, found Poland a tougher nut to crack at the Education City Stadium.

Saudi Arabia's Abdulelah Al-Amri competes for a header against Poland's Bartosz Bereszynski

IMAGE: Saudi Arabia's Abdulelah Al-Amri competes for a header against Poland's Bartosz Bereszynski. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The win moved Poland to four points, one more than the Saudis, and left them needing a draw in their final game against Argentina next Wednesday to guarantee their spot in the knockouts.

The Saudis, the second lowest ranked team in the tournament, will head into their final match against Mexico with all still to play for, while Argentina play Mexico play later on Saturday.

There were half-chances for both sides before the game sprang to life in the 39th minute when Poland shook themselves from their slumber to take the lead.

Poland's Piotr Zielinski celebrates after scoring their team's first goal

IMAGE: Poland's Piotr Zielinski celebrates after scoring their team's first goal. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Matty Cash skipped down the right and crossed low for Lewandowski who lifted it over the keeper and pulled it back for Zielinski to fire into the roof of the net.

Their hopes of cruising through to halftime, however, were ended four minutes later when Krystian Bielik made minimal contact with the back of Saleh Al-Shehri's leg and he hit the turf.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski Saudi Arabia's Abdulelah Al-Amri compete for the ball

IMAGE: Poland's Robert Lewandowski Saudi Arabia's Abdulelah Al-Amri compete for the ball. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The referee had initially waved away Saudi appeals but he was instructed to look at the VAR monitor and pointed to the spot, sparking celebrations from the Saudi players.

Those proved premature, however, as Salem Al-Dawsari's low effort was palmed away one-handed by Wojciech Szczesny, who was quickly on his feet to parry the follow up from Mohammed Al-Breik brilliantly over the bar.

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Alburayk reacts after their attempt was saved by Poland's Wojciech Szczesny

IMAGE: Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Alburayk reacts after their attempt was saved by Poland's Wojciech Szczesny. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Poland could have extended their lead in the second half when Arkadiusz Milik's header rattled the crossbar while Lewandowski hit the post with an effort that deflected off his knee.

Lewandowski, who had drawn a blank in his four previous World Cup games, did not have to wait too much longer, however, for his goal.

Abdulelah Al-Malki slipped and Lewandowski pounced, robbing him of the ball before sliding a tidy finish beyond Mohamed Al-Owais and into the net, with the striker seemingly in tears as he was greeted by team mates.

 

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Source: REUTERS
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