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FIFA World Cup: Poland keep their hopes on track with 2-0 win over Saud Arabia (Ld)

Piotr Zielinski gave the Poles the lead in the 39th minute while Robert Lewandowski added the second for his team in the 82nd time.

Saudi Arabia, who had rallied from a goal down to pull off a shocking 2-1 win over former champions Argentina, could not repeat the same magic and thus will have to consider the result of the other match taking place on Saturday evening between Argentina and Mexico and accordingly plan for the final match against Mexico.

Argentina, who are yet to open their points account, will be hoping to pick full points against Mexico in Saturday’s late match, with Mexico having just one point from the draw against Poland. Poland now have four points from two matches, while Saudi Arabia have three points.

In fact, Saudi Arabia had a chance to draw level in the injury/added time of the first half but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny brought off double saves of a penalty kick. First, he parried away Salem Al Dawsari’s right-footed shot and in a stunning reflex action deflected Mohammed Al Burayk’s try to keep his slate clean.

It was a fall from grace for the hero of the last match Al Dawsari who had scored a stunning goal to give Saudi Arabia an unlikely win against the South American giants.

On Saturday, Poland looked more comfortable after an initial period of hesitancy and got into the attacking sense.

Saudi Arabia on the other hand started off well with Szczesny tipping over Mohamed Kanno’s rising drive as Herve Renard’s team picked up where they left off in their astonishing victory over Argentina on Tuesday. The Green Falcons were impressive in attack but just couldn’t find the final touch.

The Asian giants could not sustain the momentum and the changes they made did not have a positive effect in any way whatsoever.

On the other hand, Zielinski briefly silenced the vociferous Saudi supporters when he struck Poland’s first goal of the tournament. Matty Cash sprang on to a return pass down the right, to square for Lewandowski. He couldn’t create an opening to shoot but had the presence of mind to turn back a pass for Zielinski, who finished into the roof of the net.

As a response to the Zielinski goal, the Saudis were all guns blazing and forced a mistake from the rival defender.

Then came the penalty which was awarded to Saudi Arabia after a VAR check late in the opening half. The VAR found Krystian Bielik had brought down Saleh Al-Shehri inside the box and off the resultant spot-kick Szczesny denied Saudi Arabia their third goal of the event and in the process, the Polish keeper became the third goalkeeper in the current World Cup to save a penalty.

Poland added a second one eight minutes away from the final whistle. Abdulelah Al Malki came to know a harsh reality, If you’re the last man in defense, you’ve got to make sure you don’t take too many chances. He was caught off guard as he took a heavy touch and was robbed by Lewandowski, which was always going to be a dangerous thing to do. The 34-year-old composed himself and slotted under the keeper and into the bottom corner to score his 77th goal for his country.

Thus Lewandowski, who plays club football for Barcelona in Spain, ended a five-match goal drought at the World Cup by scoring his first in his fifth World Cup game. The 34-year-old was visibly very emotional after adding a World Cup strike to an enviable list of club and individual honours.<br> <br>–IANS

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