Setback for Saudi Arabia at Qatar World Cup

DOHA, 27 Nov 2022:

After claiming a shock victory over Argentina, Saudi Arabia yesterday played positive attacking football at Education City Stadium and created goal-scoring opportunities – that were ultimately missed.

It was Poland’s talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski who scored his first-ever World Cup goal as Poland secured a hard-earned 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia in Qatar.

The Barcelona striker pounced on a defensive error by Al Malki in the 82nd minute to fire home Poland’s second of the match. The significance of the goal was evident in the 34-year-old’s tearful celebrations.

Piotr Zielinksi scored the team’s first in minute 39 thanks to an assist from Lewandowski, who just managed to keep the ball in play.

Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny was called into action in the dying minutes of the first half when a very lively Saudi Arabia were awarded a penalty.

Al Dawsari stepped up to the spot and hit it to the bottom left of the goal, but Szczęsny got there first. Al Burayk had a chance to score on the rebound but hit it over the goal.

A bit of brilliance by Lionel Messi transformed yesterday’s World Cup 2022 match here between Argentina and Mexico – putting the Albiceleste on track for a 2-0 victory that spared them the humiliation of being eliminated before the end of the group stage.

Argentina faced a do-or-die situation after their mortifying 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in the opener and nearly 89,000 people packed into Doha’s Lusail Stadium to watch them fight for survival against El Tri.

The Argentines improved to 3 points, enough for second place in Group C behind Poland, who are on 4 points after beating the Saudis earlier. Saudi Arabia also have 3 points, but trail the South American side on goal difference.

Next Wednesday’s final group stage matches – Argentina-Poland and Mexico-Saudi Arabia – will decide which two teams advance to the knockout stage.

Messi’s eighth World Cup goal – and second of the current tournament – brought him level with the late Diego Maradona, who was team captain in 1986, the last time Argentina hoisted the trophy.

Meanwhile, Australia grabbed a 1-0 victory over Tunisia to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

Mitchell Duke’s first half header was enough to seal the three points for the Socceroos against a North African side that so far this campaign had managed to eke out a goalless draw with Denmark.

It was a thrilling and physical game with chances for both sides at Al Janoub Stadium.

Defending champions France became the first team at World Cup 2022 to book their spot in the knockout stage, defeating Denmark 2-1 on a brace by Kylian Mbappe.

With 6 points from two matches, Les Bleus are virtually assured of advancing as the Group D winners, while Australia (3 points), Denmark and Tunisia – each on 1 point – will be vying for second place in the final group stage matches.

Australia can reach the round-of-16 with a draw against Denmark, who need to beat the Socceroos to avoid elimination. Likewise, Tunisia would need a win over France to survive.

Mbappe was the revelation of the 2018 World Cup, contributing four goals to France’s triumphant run. Still only 23, he has 30 goals as an international, 14 of them in his last 12 appearances.