Sun, 05 Feb 2023

The striker was on target as his team won for the first time in Qatar

Robert Lewandowski was on the scoresheet for the first time in a World Cup match as the forward helped Poland to a 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia in Qatar on Saturday.

Lewandowski struck in the 82nd minute of the match at Education City Stadium, capitalizing on a defensive lapse to slot the ball past Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

One of the most prolific forwards of his generation, the 34-year-old Lewandowski had not previously made his mark in four appearances at the World Cup finals - including three games at the Russia 2018 tournament.

The goal was his 77th in 136 appearances in Polish national team colors, matching the mark set by Pele for Brazil and moving Lewandowski into joint 10th place on the all-time men's international list.

Poland had taken the lead through Piotr Zielinski in the first half following smart work from Lewandowski, who kept the ball alive on the goal line before feeding it back to Zielinski to drive it in from just outside the six-yard box.

After their sensational opening game win against Argentina, the Saudis continued to give a good account of themselves and spurned a golden chance to go in level at the break when they were awarded a penalty after Saleh Al Shehri was brought down in the box.

A VAR check confirmed contact from Krystian Bielik, but striker Salem Al Dawsari's spot kick was saved by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who brilliantly parried a rebound effort from Mohammed Al Burayk over the crossbar.

Marshaled by the charismatic Herve Renard on the touchline, the Saudis continued to press in the second half, but were fortunate to escape when Poland twice hit the woodwork - first when Zielinski rattled the crossbar with a header, and then when Lewandowski directed an effort onto the post.

But the Poland captain did make it two with his strike inside the last 10 minutes - and the Barcelona forward could have added to his total were it not for a save from Al Owais when one-on-one.

The win is Poland's first in Qatar, and follows their 0-0 opening draw with Mexico - a match in which Lewandowski had missed a penalty.

The Poles have four points from two matches in Group C, with the Saudis remaining on three points.

Later on Saturday, Lionel Messi and Argentina will aim to atone for their opening game shock when they play Mexico at the Lusail Stadium.

The final round of Group C matches takes place on Wednesday, when Saudi Arabia play Mexico and Poland meet Argentina.  

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