Poland have failed to make it past the group stages since 1986 whilst Mexico have played the most games in a World Cup without ever reaching a final (57). Saudi Arabia’s upset win against Argentina earlier on has forced this group wide open, meaning this was a ‘must not lose’ game for both sides rather than a ‘must win’.
The Mexicans turned out in their numbers inside Stadium 974 and jeered whenever Poland had the ball. The match began with limited openings as both teams figured each other out and enjoyed equal shares of possession. Poland star Lewandowski had just nine touches in the last World Cup in Russia and was unable to make an impact early on with a lack of goalmouth action.
Alexis Vega had a good opportunity with a back post header in the 26th minute but his effort went wide. They continued to pile on pressure as Szczesny had to be quick off his line to deny Vega an almost certain goal. A cagey first half ended with just one shot on target from either side as Jorge Sanchez, booked earlier on, nearly caught the Polish keeper out at his near post just before the break. Lozano had a long shot saved easily by Szczesny early on after half time.
But it was Poland who were given the golden opportunity to go ahead in the 54 th minute as they were awarded a penalty. It required the referee going to the screen following a foul on Lewandowski by Moreno in front of goal. But Lewandowski was denied a first World Cup goal by Ochoa who guessed right and dived to his left to keep it at 0-0. Former Arsenal man Szczesny parried Martin’s flick on a few minutes later as Mexico looked to capitalise on their opposition’s penalty miss.
Wolves striker Jimenez was subbed on with twenty minutes to go as both sides looked for a winner. The Poles had a half chance when a corner was flicked onto Krychowiak, but he couldn’t get an effort on target. Mexico then countered by a heavy touch from Jimenez went straight into Szczesny’s hands. In the seven minutes added on at the end of the 90, neither Poland or Mexico could find a winner and it finished in a stalemate, the second of the day.
The result means Saudi Arabia top Group C after one game and this tournament now already has more nil nil’s than the whole of the tournament in Russia four years ago. The Mexico fans deserve credit for their incredible support throughout despite the lacklustre performance from their players. Both teams will be disappointed with their display as they failed to take advantage of favourites Argentina’s loss.