Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in football history. But the Pole is still waiting for his first goal at World Cups: he missed a penalty against Mexico and thus missed the chance of a good starting position in a complicated group.
With a missed penalty Robert Lewandowski deprived Poland of a great World Cup chance. The world footballer failed in the 0-0 draw against Mexico at the start of the tournament to deafening jubilation in the 974 Stadium in Doha, which was almost exclusively filled with Latin American fans. Lewandowski, who is otherwise so sure of the point, clutched his head in disappointment in Qatar when he was denied by the outstandingly reacting Mexican goalkeeper veteran Guillermo Ochoa (58th minute).
The key scene further increased the crackling atmosphere in front of 39,369 spectators, who were feverishly waiting for the result before the video decision on the Lewandowski penalty. In the gripping final phase, neither the overall better Mexicans nor the frustrated Poles managed the lucky punch.
On Saturday, when Mexico faces the explosive duel with Messi, his World Cup exit could already be sealed. Poland then meets group leaders Saudi Arabia. According to FIFA, 90,000 Mexicans in and around the stadium at the port of Doha made the start of the tournament an atmospheric home game for their team, with the jumping sometimes even vibrating the stands. In contrast to the hot-blooded cheers and La-Ola-waves for her selection with many Olympic bronze medalists in 2021, El Tri fans gave Lewandowski plenty of whistles even during the warm-up program.
Poland's national coach Czeslaw Michniewicz, who surprisingly promoted the agile Wolfsburg Jakub Kaminski (20) to the World Cup formation, was only partially successful with his basic defensive formation. His line of defense stopped the lively Mexicans, who were already celebrating after a header from Alexis Vega (26'). But the plan that Lewandowski, who had switched from FC Bayern to FC Barcelona, should fix it up front, didn't work out. The 34-year-old didn't even use the big chance from the point after being fouled by Hector Moreno. A header and a nice pass before the break - it wasn't much more that he posed a threat.
The Latin Americans kept looking for Germany terror Hirving Lozano, who had initiated the DFB disaster four years ago with a 1-0 win in Russia. Poland's national goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was in the spotlight several times at the start of his last World Cup, for example when he was tested by Lozano (52').
In the heated final phase, in which France's Stéphanie Frappart got a lot to do as fourth official in the first game played by a woman, Mexico striker Henry Martin was denied a header by Szczesny (64'). The Juve keeper was a solid backing but the hero of the night was 37-year-old Ochoa. The goalkeeping legend became the first Mexican keeper since 1966 to save a penalty in regular time at a World Cup game in her fifth World Cup appearance.