Footy Times

Dominant Argentina march to last 16 as group winners

Despite the loss Poland also seal a berth in round of 16

0 136

Argentina and Lionel Messi dominated Poland 2-0 on Wednesday at the World Cup to win Group C and move to the last 16 at Stadium 974 in Qatar.

Alexis MacAllister and Julian Alvarez scored second-half goals for Argentina, who were stunned by Saudi Arabia in their group opener, to keep their quest for a first World Cup victory since 1986 alive.

“It’s so emotional for me, for the whole squad. It’s a dream come true,” Mac Allister told reporters. “I debuted with this team, I’m so proud of that. And now managing to score in a World Cup. I’m so happy.

“[After Messi’s penalty miss] we tried to stay positive, to stay calm. We did not feel down. We tried to be optimistic. Fortunately we managed to win and go through.”

Despite being outplayed for the entire 90 minutes, Poland advanced to the knockout phase in second place thanks to a better goal differential than Mexico and will meet Group D winners France on Sunday. Argentina will play Australia on Saturday for a place in the quarterfinals.

Messi was in his 22nd World Cup game – and 999th for club and country – breaking a tie with Diego Maradona for the most by an Argentine in the world’s greatest competition.

Argentina dominated the first 45 minutes but had little to show for it, with the halftime score 0-0. Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Messi penalty awarded by VAR.

Szczesny had been kept busy the whole half as Poland’s defence was repeatedly penetrated, but the Juventus goalkeeper remained firm to deny the Argentines, who became more confident with each attack.

He first denied Alvarez, who broke through the offside trap, before teeing up Angel Di Maria, who attempted to score immediately from a corner kick.

Argentina took the lead immediately after the restart, when Brighton striker Mac Allister turned a Nahuel Molina cross with a first-time shot that beat Szczesny and bounced against the far post.

Alvarez, a Manchester City youth, made his international debut midway through the second half, taking up a pass from Enzo Fernandez in the penalty area and blasting a shot past Szczesny to all but secure the three points.

Versus Poland’s place in the round of 16 potentially being decided by a fair play (yellow and red card accumulation) tiebreaker with Mexico, Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz had encouraged his players to avoid unnecessary bookings as the match progressed.

“I didn’t tell players to take their foot off the ball, but I did tell them to avoid silly bookings,” Michniewicz told a news conference. “We even talked about the yellow cards for those on the bench, because it was only before the match, after the meeting with the delegate, when we learned that cards awarded to players on the bench do not count for the fair play classification.

“We were afraid that one of the players would jump out, or the coach, and would get booked and therefore we might not advance further. But I also asked that we do not provoke, not pull their shirts, not argue with the referee.”



Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

%d bloggers like this: