World Cup 2022: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Robert Lewandowski scores first World Cup goal in crucial victory


Robert Lewandowski scored his first World Cup goal as Poland earned a crucial victory over Saudi Arabia that leaves Group C wide open.

The Barcelona striker capitalised on an error by Saudi Arabia midfielder Abdelulelah Al Malki before sending a composed finish past onrushing goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

Lewandowski was visibly emotional after ending a run of four World Cup games without finding the net.

Piotr Zielinski had given Poland a first-half lead from Lewandowski’s cutback, but Saudi Arabia were awarded a penalty five minutes later for Krystian Bielik’s foul on Saleh Al Shehri.

Wojciech Szczesny kept out Feras Al Brikan’s effort before producing a sensational one-handed stop to prevent Mohammed Al Burayk from burying the rebound.

Saud Abdulhamid was denied by Sczcesny and Al Brikan shot over the bar in the second half, while Arkadiusz Milik and Lewandowski were both denied by the woodwork as Poland sought to double their lead on the counter-attack.

Lewandowski’s late strike ended Saudi Arabia’s hopes of building on Tuesday’s remarkable victory over Argentina and boosts Poland’s hopes of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 1986, when they were beaten 4-0 by Brazil in the first knockout round.

Czeslaw Michniewicz’s team need just one point against Argentina on Wednesday to qualify from Group C, while Saudi Arabia face Mexico for a place in the last 16.

Wasteful Saudi Arabia rue missed opportunities

Lewandowski will steal the headlines after breaking his World Cup duck, but Saudi Arabia will be bitterly frustrated not to have preserved their unbeaten start to the tournament in Qatar after finding Sczcesny in inspired form.

Backed by a fervent and partisan crowd inside Education City Stadium, Saudi Arabia applied heavy early pressure and were denied a superb opener when the former Arsenal goalkeeper palmed Mohammed Kanno’s ferocious drive over the crossbar.

Poland looked increasingly rattled as the Green Falcons continued to swarm forward in waves, but Bielik’s goal-bound header was cleared to safety by Al Shehri before Zielinski gave them the lead with their first shot on target.

Bielik’s challenge on Al Shehri shortly before half-time initially went unpunished by referee Wilton Sampaio, but the Brazilian showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot after reviewing the incident on his pitchside monitor.

If Szczesny’s save from Al Brikan’s spot-kick was impressive, his fingertip stop from Al Burayk’s follow-up effort was spectacular – and will take some beating at this World Cup.

There was little change to the pattern of play in the second half, with Szczesny saving at the feet of Abdulhamid and Al Brikan sending a fierce, left-footed shot over the bar.

But Poland remained a threat on the counter-attack as Milik sent a powerful header against the crossbar, before Lewandowski’s near-post flick also came back off the woodwork.

It was Al Malki’s heavy touch that ultimately proved decisive, ending Saudi Arabia’s hopes of becoming the first team in Qatar to clinch their place in the last 16.

Lewandowski could have doubled his tally in stoppage time, but Al Owais kept out the striker’s effort with a strong hand.

Player of the match

CashMatty Cash

Poland

  1. Squad number2Player nameCash

  2. Squad number1Player nameSzczesny

  3. Squad number9Player nameLewandowski

  4. Squad number20Player nameZielinski

  5. Squad number7Player nameMilik

  6. Squad number18Player nameBereszynski

  7. Squad number15Player nameGlik

  8. Squad number6Player nameBielik

  9. Squad number13Player nameKaminski

  10. Squad number10Player nameKrychowiak

  11. Squad number24Player nameFrankowski

  12. Squad number14Player nameKiwior

  13. Squad number23Player namePiatek

Saudi Arabia

  1. Squad number21Player nameMohammed Al Owais

  2. Squad number23Player nameMohammed Kanno

  3. Squad number9Player nameFeras Al Brikan

  4. Squad number6Player nameMohammed Al Burayk

  5. Squad number4Player nameAbdulelah Al Amri

  6. Squad number5Player nameAli Al Bulayhi

  7. Squad number11Player nameSaleh Al Shehri

  8. Squad number10Player nameSalem Al Dawsari

  9. Squad number16Player nameSami Al Naji

  10. Squad number8Player nameAbdulelah Al Malki

  11. Squad number18Player nameNawaf Al Abid

  12. Squad number12Player nameSaud Abdulhamid

  13. Squad number24Player nameNasser Al Dawsari

  14. Squad number19Player nameHattan Bahbri

  15. Squad number20Player nameAbdulrahman Al Obud

  16. Squad number2Player nameSultan Al Ghannam

Line-ups

Poland

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Szczesny
  • 2CashBooked at 16mins
  • 14KiwiorBooked at 15mins
  • 15Glik
  • 18Bereszynski
  • 20ZielinskiSubstituted forKaminskiat 63′minutes
  • 6Bielik
  • 10Krychowiak
  • 24Frankowski
  • 7MilikBooked at 19minsSubstituted forPiatekat 71′minutes
  • 9Lewandowski

Substitutes

  • 3Jedrzejczyk
  • 4Wieteska
  • 5Bednarek
  • 8Szymanski
  • 11Grosicki
  • 12Skorupski
  • 13Kaminski
  • 16Swiderski
  • 17Zurkowski
  • 19Szymanski
  • 21Zalewski
  • 22Grabara
  • 23Piatek
  • 25Gumny
  • 26Skóras

Saudi Arabia

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 21Al Owais
  • 12Abdulhamid
  • 4Al AmriBooked at 45mins
  • 5Al Bulayhi
  • 6Al BuraykSubstituted forAl Ghannamat 65′minutes
  • 8Al Wahbi Al MalkiBooked at 21minsSubstituted forAl Obudat 85′minutes
  • 9Al Brikan
  • 16Al NajiSubstituted forAl Abidat 45′minutesSubstituted forBahbriat 90+5′minutes
  • 23Kanno
  • 10Al Dawsari
  • 11Al ShehriSubstituted forAl Shardan Al Dawsariat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Al Rubaie Al Yami
  • 2Al Ghannam
  • 3Madu
  • 14Otayf
  • 15Al Hassan
  • 17Al Tambakti
  • 18Al Abid
  • 19Bahbri
  • 20Al Obud
  • 22Al Suweiti Al Aqidi
  • 24Al Shardan Al Dawsari
  • 25Asiri

Referee:
Wilton Pereira Sampaio

Attendance:
44,259

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