DOHA! - After losing to Saudi, Argentina bounces back to top Group C

Argentina’s victory moved the South American side (6 points) to the top of the group and it will face Australia in the last-16 while the second-placed Poland will next take on reigning champion France.
DOHA! - After losing to Saudi, Argentina bounces back to top Group C

DOHA: Argentina advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Poland in its final Group C match on Wednesday even though skipper Lionel Messi saw a first half penalty saved at the Stadium 974 here.

Argentina’s victory moved the South American side (6 points) to the top of the group and it will face Australia in the last-16 while the second-placed Poland will next take on reigning champion France. Argentina took the lead just one minute into the second half when Alexis Mac Allister got on the end of Nahuel Molina’s cross. Despite making weak contact, Mac Allister saw his shot creep over the line with Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny beaten.

The goal was reward for Argentina, which had dominated possession, while Poland barely managed to get out of its own half. The second goal was the result of some patient build-up, where Argentina knocked the ball around. Enzo Fernandez unlocked the defence with a through ball for Julian Alvarez, who found space in the box and smashed it into the top corner.

Earlier, Poland was up in arms when Argentina was awarded a controversial penalty after a VAR check for a foul on Messi. Szczesny’s glove brushed Messi’s face as the Paris St. Germain forward rose up for a header at the far post.

But, Szczesny was up to the task. Despite the thousands of Argentina fans raising the decibel levels inside the arena, he kept his composure and guessed correctly, diving to his left and using one hand to swat aside Messi’s effort from the spot. Szczesny had been kept busy the entire first half with the Poland defence breached time and again, but the Juventus goalkeeper stood firm to deny the Argentines, who grew more confident with every attack.

He first denied Alvarez when the Manchester City forward broke through the offside trap, before he tipped Angel Di Maria’s cross over the bar as his Juventus teammate attempted to score directly from a corner-kick. He could do nothing but scramble when Mac Allister took his shot even before Poland could settle down after the restart. Meanwhile, Alvarez’s shot for the second Argentina goal was too good for any goalkeeper.

RESULT: Poland 0 lost to Argentina 2 (A Mac Allister 46, J Alvarez 67)

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