Sometimes it appeared as though Argentina’s No. 10 must be powered by electricity and possibly controlled by a remote control as Lionel Messi zigzagged in all directions.
Although Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister provided the crucial game-changing goal for Lionel Scaloni’s team, Messi’s commitment to equally enchant his adoring fans and confound Poland was what ultimately made the difference.
A player who is such a catalyst for his country and who spent the majority of the game slaloming past frequently helpless markers had missed a first-half penalty, but everyone had almost forgotten about it by the time the game was over.
When the music stopped and the final whistle blew, Julián lvarez of Manchester City had joined Mac Allister in scoring, but miraculously, Poland, who had been thoroughly outmatched, had followed their tormentors into the knockout stages because of a better goal differential than Mexico.
Talk about making progress while holding on by a thread. His opponents would have been boarding a flight to Warsaw today on Thursday had Lautaro Martnez not missed a late opportunity for Argentina and had Saudi Arabia not scored a goal to tie the game against Mexico. Poland, however, is still alive and will play France on Sunday in the round of 16.
They will need to significantly improve, but at least Robert Lewandowski will be able to compete in another World Cup match. Poland’s talisman couldn’t have the desired effect here because of the one-way traffic, but “Lewangoalski” deserves at least one more moment in the Doha sun.
Few would wager against Argentina’s team led by Messi and its still potent December sun continuing to shine on Argentina, which takes on Australia on Saturday. If anyone casts a shadow over Messi, it is the late Diego Maradona. In this case, he outdid his compatriot’s equivalent tally of 21 games by making his 22nd World Cup appearance.
The latter held quite a bit of blame given that it appeared like everyone entering Stadium 974 was wearing a pale blue and white No 10 shirt with either Maradona or Messi on the back. Could Messi surpass Lewandowski, Poland’s all-time leading scorer and the attacker who took his place at Barcelona?
The good news was that the answer was a resounding “yes” for that devoted audience. The Paris Saint-Germain attacker quickly suggested that Lionel Scaloni’s team’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening Group C match had been an anomaly rather than a reflection of a troubling new structural problem by constantly dislodging Czeslaw Michniewicz’s defence. After evading and brushing away numerous Poland defenders, Messi forced Wojciech Szczesny into a few saves in the opening fifteen minutes alone.
Not to be completely overshadowed, Lewandowski occasionally appeared capable of giving a masterclass in the No. 9 position but lacked the service to effectively perform it. A peek was given when he created a good opening for Krystian Bielik while keeping the ball up and dodging defenders with similar ease, but the midfielder immediately fired a weak shot straight at the underused Emiliano Martnez.
The post Argentina advance despite Messi’s saved penalty and Poland squeak through appeared first on OUR INDIA.