Mexico 0-0 Poland: Robert Lewandowski misses penalty as cagey Group C clash ends goalless
Robert Lewandowski is still searching for his first-ever World Cup goal after he missed a penalty, as Poland and Mexico played out a goalless draw in Group C at Stadium 964, Doha.
The 34-year-old was denied from the spot by Mexico’s 37-year-old captain Guillermo Ochoa just shy of the hour-mark.
In the first half, Poland played with an incredibly deep defensive line, inviting trouble and while Mexico had the lion’s share of possession and looked livelier in attack, they failed to do enough to trouble Poland’s rear-guard.
Hector Moreno and Alexis Vega were off-target with headed efforts, and just before the break, Jorge Sanchez’s right-footed shot from a tight angle forced an unconvincing save from Wojciech Szczesny, who was looking increasingly nervy in goal.
It was the only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, with Lewandowski touching the ball just once in the opposition box.
However, the Barcelona talisman was handed a golden opportunity when he won a penalty following a VAR check after being bundled over by Hector Moreno. But there were incredible scenes as Ochoa – appearing in his fifth World Cup - made a quite brilliant save to keep the scores level.
Mexico’s supporters responded as if they had scored a goal of their own and their team threatened to build on the momentum when Henry Martin’s header drew a fine save from Szczesny.
But the tempo dropped rapidly again, and it appeared, in the end, both sides were satisfied with the draw.
The result means Saudi Arabia end the day top of the group with three points. Mexico are back in action on Saturday when they play Argentina, the same day Poland play Saudi Arabia.
It hasn’t been a good day for those footballers viewed as the greatest in the game. After Lionel Messi’s Argentina were stunned by Saudi Arabia – in what will go down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history – Lewandowski’s missed penalty then ultimately cost Poland the chance to secure what would have been three precious points.
Lewandowski had just nine touches in the opposition penalty area at the 2018 World Cup and his frustration in the competition was upped a notch as he couldn’t find a way past veteran goalkeeper Ochoa.
He has now missed each of his last two penalties for club and country. Unfortunately, this one could prove extremely costly for his nation. Poland, of course, are hoping to make it to the knockout stages of the competition for the first time since 1986. Had they won here, their route to the last-16 would be much more straightforward. Now, however, they will need to get the better of a Saudi Arabia side that has already shown their potential.
Mexico, on the other hand, will turn their focus to an Argentina side hurting and desperate to make amends.
Produced the moment of the night with a fantastic save to keep out Lewandowski's low and hard penalty. It's a stop he will take great pleasure in watching on repeat.
26’ - CLOSE! Mexico's Vega out-jumps Cash to attack Lozano's looping cross delivered from the right by-line. But his header is agonisingly wide of the far post. That's the closest we've come to a goal so far.
28’ - NERVY MOMENT FOR POLAND! Szczesny races off his line after spotting the danger a through-ball brings - but he doesn't get much contact on the ball. Gallardo's eyes light up for a moment but the Poland goalkeeper is rescued by his defenders who scramble the danger clear.
58’ - THE PENALTY IS SAVED! Lewandowski is still searching for his World Cup goal as Ochoa dives to his right and saves his spot-kick! Unbelievable drama!
64’ - SAVE! Alvarez tries an ambitious effort from distance, Martin meets it with his head to make it even trickier for Szczesny but the Poland goalkeeper makes a decent save.