Poland takes a big step towards the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar - and goalscorer Robert Lewandowski overcomes a personal World Cup trauma. Against a strong but hapless Saudi Arabian side, the FC Barcelona star brings redemption.
With Robert Lewandowski's acclaimed debut goal, Poland set course for the first round of 16 at the World Cup in 36 years. The world footballer made the decision 2-0 (1-0) in the emotionally charged second group game against Saudi Arabia with his late goal in the 82nd minute and happily fell onto the lawn. When he stood up again, surrounded by his teammates, the world star had tears in his eyes. It was the first World Cup goal ever for Lewandowski, who had missed a penalty in the first group game against Mexico (0-0).
Previously, the former Bayern striker paved the way to victory, which his team had to tremble for a long time, as the preparer for Piotr Zielinski's opening goal (39th). This was particularly thanks to the outstanding goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who was repeatedly hugged by his teammates after some outstanding saves.
In the heated stoppage time of the first half, the Juve goalkeeper saved not only Salem Mohammed Al-Dausari's penalty, but also Mohammed Al-Buraik's follow-up shot. After the change of sides, the Saudis, who had sensationally won against Argentina at the start, pushed vehemently for the equalizer in front of 44,259 spectators, but failed because of their own precision or because of Szczesny.
Poland go into Wednesday's final Group C game against Lionel Messi's Argentina with four points. But the briskly attacking Saudis still have every chance of reaching the second round of 16 after 1994 with three points.
Lewandowski and Al-Dausari already had smiles on their faces before kick-off in the atmospheric and rather cool air-conditioned Education City Stadium. At first it looked like Saudi Arabia could after beating Messi 2-1
Lewandowski, who, like all Poles, had to listen to a few boos from the stands after the Mexicans whistled in the previous 0-0 draw, received the welcome support he wanted in attack when Arkadiusz Milik came on. But again and again he had to fend off a majority of defenders. It was sometimes very rustic to the point - there were six yellow cards just before the break.
The strong Szczesny also caused a strange scene just before the Polish leadership. During an opponent's break in treatment, the keeper jogged 60 meters forward to give Lewandowski and then Milik a few gestures. A little later the gate fell. When Zielinski scored, Lewandowski, who won the club world championship with FC Bayern in February 2021, almost scored a goal himself. After Matty Cash's attack on the right wing, the 34-year-old was just missed by goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais, but then quickly and perfectly set up Zielinski. He humorlessly hammered the ball under the crossbar.
After the penalty kick, which was only given after viewing the video images and parried by Szczesny, Lewandowski was asked to act as a mediator to calm things down. The anger about the penalty was huge, especially on the Polish bench. After falling behind, the Saudis launched many attacks on the goal of the Poles, who for their part initially missed the reassuring 2-0 with aluminum goals from Milik (63rd) and Lewandowski (66th). In the closing stages it was the Barcelona star who took advantage of a mistake in the opposing defense and completed it coldly.