Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina recorded a resounding 2-0 victory over Poland on Wednesday night to top Group C to cruise to the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup ongoing in Qatar.
Despite seven-time Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi missing a penalty in the first half, Argentina came back stronger in the second stanza to hit two past Poland, courtesy Alexis MacAllister and Julian Alvarez’s superb goals.
Having suffered one of the greatest shocks in the competitionl, losing 1-2 to minnows Saudi Arabia in their opening C fixture last Tuesday, the two-time champions regained their composure to defeat Mexico 2-0 over the weekend to bolster their chances of qualification.
Coming into this game, the Albicelestes needed a win to cushion their progression to the next of the tourney and avoid an embarrassing early exit.
Having scored in each of his last six appearances for Argentina, 35-year-old Messi squandered a golden opportunity to hand his side the lead after Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny dealt with the striker’s poorly-taken spot kick in the 39th minute.
The miss perhaps would come to many football fans as justice served following the controversial penalty awarded by Referee Danny Makkelie, after Messi went down easily under a slight touch from goalkeeper Szczęsny inside the 18-yard box.
Despite the controversial penalty missed by the Argentine forward, Poland, with Robert Lewandowski leading the pack, failed to take advantage, allowing the Argentines to dominate and dictate the pace of the game.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Mac Allister wasted no time to grab his debut goal to help Argentina leapfrog to the summit of Group C.
To ensure a comfortable lead, Alvarez doubled the lead for Scolari’s side with 23 minutes left to end proceedings at Stadium 974 in Doha. This sent the 44,089 supporters gathered at the container stadium into wild jubilation with a perfect qualification in sight.
Despite Poland’s defeat, Czeslaw Michniewicz’s charges joined Argentina to progress to the knockout stage for the first time since 1986, following Mexico’s 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in the other group match.