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Poland 0-2 Argentina: Player ratings as Allister and Alvarez send La Albiceleste through after Messi penalty miss

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Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez ensured Argentina’s place at the top of Group C and their place in the round of the 16 of the FIFA World Cup. Poland also squeezed through despite losing thanks to Mexico only managing to beat Saudi Arabia 2-1.

Argentina started the game brightly, often getting Lionel Messi on the ball in and around the penalty area – always the game plan for La Albiceleste. The PSG star had the first notable shot on goal in the 10th minute when he burst into the left side of the penalty area and stung the palms of Wojciech Szczęsny with a ferocious shot at goal.

La Albiceleste were then able to sustain that pressure with relative ease as Poland were more than happy to sit back and defend a point that would have taken them into the last 16.

Marcos Acuna went close for Argentina around the half hour mark when he fired just wide of the right post.

Julian Alvarez then forced Szczęsny into a superb save five minutes later, with the Juventus number one turning away Alvarez’s effort on goal from the left side of the penalty area.

Moments later, we witnessed the worst refereeing decision of the tournament so far. Argentina were awarded a terrible penalty after a lengthy VAR review after Szczęsny was adjudged to have touched (?) Messi’s face as the two battled for a cross into the box.

The resulting spot kick was then brilliantly caught by the Polish goalkeeper, who rushed to the left side and knocked Messi’s attempt wide. Justice well and truly served.

Immediately after the second half whistle, Argentina finally got their goal. Brighton star Alexis Mac Allister would be the man to claim it as he latched on to a low cross from right back Nahuel Molina and drilled past Szczęsny and into the bottom right corner of the net.

That goal finally woke up Poland as an attacking unit and they almost grabbed an equalizer in the 49th minute through Kamil Glik. The veteran defender rose highest and headed the standard from the right wing just wide.

After some tactical adjustments, Lionel Scaloni’s men firmly gained control of the game. They deservedly doubled their lead through Julian Alvarez in the 67th minute. The young forward held off two Polish defenders and fired high into the net.

It was almost three in the 72nd minute when Messi once again played a wonderful cross into the path of Alvarez. However, the forward only found the side net with his subsequent shot at the goal.

Lautaro Martinez came off the bench in the 85th minute and almost knocked Poland out of the competition. After running onto a loose back pass, the Inter player charged into the penalty area, but his shot went wide.

Jakub Kiwior then saved Poland from an early departure in the 93rd minute with a thrilling clearance from the line. The towering defender came back well to beat Nicolas Tagliafico’s slotted finish to keep his nation in the tournament.

1. Poland (4-3-1-2)

GK – Wojciech Szczęsny – 8/10 – Saved his second penalty of the group stages and looked generally unbeatable in the first half. He was finally beaten in the second, but by God what a performance regardless.

RB – Matty Cash – 3/10 – Didn’t get forward as Poland would’ve liked.

CB – Kamil Glik – 4/10 – The sort of game that suits him at this point in his career and yet he still wasn’t particularly good.

CB – Jakub Kiwior – 7/10 – Got caught out with Molina’s cut-back cross which led to the opener. Made amends with a fantastic clearance off the line in added time.

LB – Bartosz Bereszynski – 3/10 – Struggled to defend his side.

CM – Piotr Zielinski – 3/10 – Needed to be better on the ball than he was in this one.

CM – Krystian Bielik – 4/10 – Defended quite well but generally looked hopless in possession.

CM – Gregorz Krychowiak – 2/10 – Got stuck in when he could get near the ball…which wasn’t often because he can’t run anymore.

AM – Przemyslaw Frankowski – 1/10 – He did literally nothing and was subbed off at half-time.

ST – Robert Lewandowski – 2/10 – So, so isolated.

ST – Karol Swiderski – N/A – Did he play? He didn’t, did he? Surely not.

SUB – Michal Skoras – 4/10.

SUB – Jakub Kaminski – 3/10.

SUB – Damian Szymanski – N/A.

SUB – Artur Jedrzejczyk – N/A.

SUB – Krzysztof Piatek – N/A.

2. Argentina (4-3-3)

Argentina are through
Argentina are through / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

GK – Emi Martinez – 5/10 – He had zero to do.

RB – Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – His brilliant low cross from the right flank led to the opening goal.

CB – Cristian Romero – 5/10 – Dealt with the little threat Lewa posed well.

CB – Nicolas Otamendi – 5/10 – An easy night at the office for Otamendi.

LB – Marcos Acuna – 6/10 – Drilled a shot just wide in the first half and got forward well.

CM – Alexis Mac Allister – 8/10 – Scored his first ever international goal at the best possible time.

CM – Enzo Fernandez – 7/10 – Another impressive performance from the young man.

CM – Rodrigo De Paul – 4/10 – Sloppy on the ball again. Surely he shouldn’t start for this team.

RW – Angel Di Maria – 5/10 – Saw a lot of the ball but didn’t do a whole lot with it.

CF – Lionel Messi – 4/10 – Missed a penalty. He’s not very good at penalties.

LW – Julian Alvarez – 5/10 – Scored a great goal in the second half. Well deserved start for the Man City striker.

SUB – Leandro Paredes – 6/10 – Did a decent job in midfield when he came on.

SUB – Nicolas Tagliafico – N/A.

SUB – Lautaro Martinez – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance in the 85th minute.

SUB – German Pezzella – N/A.

SUB – Thiago Almada – N/A.

Man of the Match: Alexis Mac Allister

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