Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia earlier that day didn’t help either team.
Tuesday’s match between Mexico and Poland ended in a scoreless draw. Mexico dominated possession and attempted to attack through the wings, with their wingers running at Poland’s back line, whereas Poland was content to absorb pressure in order to quickly counterattack. Hirving Lozano, a winger, provided solid service on the flanks but was unable to create a magical moment.
The defining moment of the game occurred in the 58th minute, when Poland’s Robert Lewandowski was fouled inside the penalty area. Guillermo Ochoa, however, was the hero of the moment for Mexico after he made a crucial penalty save against Lewandowski. Lewandowski is still searching for his first World Cup goal.
The two teams were unable to capitalize on an opportunity to claim a position in Group C, despite the fact that the door had been opened earlier in the day when Saudia Arabia defeated Argentina, propelling the Saudis to the top of the group after all teams had played their opening games.
Lozano and Vega are shining lights for Mexico.
El Tri’s lack of a true number nine loomed larger than ever as the team controlled possession and spent time in dangerous areas of the field, but lacked the final touch or pass throughout the entire match. Alexia Vega had multiple opportunities to score the game-winning goal for Mexico, including this 26th-minute attempt.
So close 😬— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 22, 2022
Mexico is knocking in the first half 👀🇲🇽 pic.twitter.com/4R7VFfKVrz
Vega, who made his World Cup debut with El Tri, was a suitable alternative to Lozano for the duration of the match. However, the team’s lack of a center target became a problem as the game progressed. After the first 45 minutes, an older midfield struggled at times to keep up with the duo, despite the potential of Lozano’s efforts on the wing.
Memo vs. Lewy
The game’s defining moment was a standoff between Ochoa and Lewandowski. A foul committed by Hector Moreno inside the box against Lewandowski was initially not called. However, the center official was notified of the incident by VAR, and upon further review of the cameras, a yellow card was issued to Moreno.
Lewandowski, Poland’s all-time leading scorer, has never scored in a World Cup match. It seemed likely that he would be able to check that off his long list of accomplishments. Lewandowski’s past penalty kicks are evenly split between shots to the left and shots to the right, which makes him very hard to predict. Lewandowski’s problem was that he was facing another legend, Ochoa, on the opposite side of the penalty spot.
El Tri were unable to convert the momentum of the moment into meaningful offense in the final third, despite the fact that Ochoa’s save was the most significant moment of the game. Mexico’s position in the group was ultimately preserved by the penalty save. If they continue to struggle with the ball at their feet, Ochoa will likely need to save the team with his hands in future matches.
A draw is insufficient for both teams
After Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina and the entire world with a massive upset on day three’s opening match, Group C appeared primed for more chaos. However, Mexico and Poland never had the air of two teams desperate to stake a claim in a group that is now wide open and up for grabs. El Tri had a strong first half hour attempting to dominate large areas, whereas Poland was cautious in their pursuit of any counterattacks.
Despite the fact that there were opportunities in the final third, neither team appeared particularly frantic during the brief window of opportunity. As the clock passed the 70-minute mark, neither team was willing to take a chance. The result of a scoreless draw appeared fair, albeit uninspiring for a group wishing for more chaos.
After Saudia Arabia’s decisive victory that flipped the group on its head, neither manager altered their game plans or made adjustments to earn all three points. This complacency could come back to haunt the two teams in future matches as they battle to determine who will be eliminated from the group.
Group C will continue on November 26, 2018. Poland will play Saudi Arabia, while Argentina will face Mexico. Mexico has a chance to eliminate Argentina, while Saudi Arabia can clinch a spot in Group C with a win or a tie against Poland if Argentina loses to Mexico.