Mexico knew they wanted three objectives at the very least. Poland knew that they had a three-goal cushion. Mexico have been up in opposition to a Saudi Arabia group that had taken down Argentina whereas Poland had Messi to deal with. Each video games went precisely how one would count on – Poland not touchdown a single shot heading in the right direction and dropping by two objectives and nonetheless getting into the Spherical-of-16, whereas Mexico went out preventing until the bitter finish, scoring two and trying to find the third, solely to concede one within the remaining minutes of their keep on the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
However the drama that engulfed the second half of each video games – the permutations and combos that have been being put out after which struck out as every purpose and every save modified situations – was not like some other group at this World Cup.
Mexican followers watch the soccer match in opposition to Saudi Arabia within the World Cup, on an enormous display on the monument to the Revolution in Mexico Metropolis, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Mexico received the match 2-1 however is out of the world cup. (AP Picture/Marco Ugarte)
Each video games went into the primary half goalless however not for an absence of attempting. Lionel Messi had a penalty within the thirty ninth minute that he missed. The consensus was that it was a great strike however even a well-struck shot on the goalkeeper’s left at mid-range is solely not a statistically sound penalty to take – and one which Wojciech Szczesny acquired to within the nick of time.
If Messi missed one clear lower probability in his recreation, Mexico have been taking pictures at purpose from each potential angle and distance in theirs. The Saudi Arabians selected to go along with three on the again, a excessive line and Mexico countered with a median of 4 to 5 gamers on the throat of Herve Renard’s expenses. The primary half ended with Mexico taking on ten photographs and every being parried away, or blocked or cleared heroically by the Saudis.
The primary blow
The complexion of the group modified as quickly because the second half started. Argentina struck first, scoring by Alexis Mac Allister. Minutes later within the different recreation, Mexico lastly struck after having run right into a brick wall for the primary 45 minutes of the sport. Henry Martin lived as much as his billing and poached a purpose within the Saudi field to make it 1-0.
El Tri then shortly turned the group on its head by scoring one other within the 52nd minute – this time a left-footed freekick – curled fantastically by the air and hurried into purpose by Luis Chavez. Goalkeeper Al Owaisi didn’t stand a prayer because the ball crashed into the left prime nook.
At this level, Mexico wanted another purpose to undergo. However then again, if Argentina scored one other to make it 2-0 on their finish and the rating remained the identical in opposition to Saudi Arabia, then Poland would undergo on the premise of FIFA’s fair-play guidelines.
Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saves a penalty kick by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, proper, in the course of the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Argentina on the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Picture/Pavel Golovkin)
FIFA’s fair-play guidelines dictate that if a situation happens the place two groups in a gaggle have the identical variety of factors, the identical purpose distinction and have each drawn in opposition to one another, then the group with fewer yellow playing cards would transfer into the Spherical-of-16. It’s a rule that dealt heartbreak to Senegal on the 2018 World Cup after they needed to exit the match on the again of their yellow card depend.
And lo and behold, Argentina determined so as to add additional gunpowder to the volatility of this group – Julian Alvarez scored within the 67th minute to place Poland down by two objectives. Now Mexico desperately wanted that third purpose or it might be curtains for his or her World Cup marketing campaign.
Even earlier than the beginning of this match, the consensus was that Mexican supporters didn’t have very excessive hopes of their group. Their first two video games – a boring 1-1 draw in opposition to Poland after which a 2-0 loss to Argentina proved that that evaluation may not have been too far off.
However the final forty minutes noticed them throw every part that they had on the Saudis. They scored within the 56th minute just for the purpose to be rightly disallowed as offside. Then that they had one other purpose chalked off within the 86th minute, but once more for offside.
The Argentina-Poland recreation was the primary to finish, with the Argentines taking first place within the group with a 2-0 win. Polish followers have been caught on digicam nervously checking their telephones after which glancing again at their very own discipline of motion. Poland’s Spherical-of-16 hopes rested on Saudi Arabia.
After which the Saudis flipped the script once more, very similar to they’ve completed by this match. A one-two passing transfer between Hattan Bahebri and Salem Al-Dawsari ended with the Saudi No 10 coolly slotting the ball residence and scoring one remaining purpose for his group, with mere minutes remaining on the clock. They have been by no means in with an opportunity from the primary minute of the match – having to stave off one Mexican wave after one other. However their remaining act of the World Cup was to kill any hope that their North American counterparts needed to qualify for the Spherical-of-16.
The referee quickly blew the whistle and the manic tempo of two World Cup matches, a number of kilometres away from one another, got here to a frenetic finish. Argentina had gone by. Poland had limped in. The door was shut on the Mexicans cruelly within the final minute and it was the Saudi Arabians who did it to them.
Group C lived as much as its potential and the way.