Lewandowski scores maiden World Cup goal as Poland beats Saudi Arabia 2-0 to go top of Group C

The winner came in the 39th minute after Robert Lewandowski evaded Mohammed Al-Owais to set up Piotr Zielinski, who thrashed a shot high into the roof of the Saudi net.

Poland’s Piotr Zielinski scores his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Poland’s Piotr Zielinski scores his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia. | Photo Credit: Manu Fernandez

The winner came in the 39th minute after Robert Lewandowski evaded Mohammed Al-Owais to set up Piotr Zielinski, who thrashed a shot high into the roof of the Saudi net.

With history in its sight and its accompanying riches, Saudi Arabia stepped into the Education City Stadium field with an extra spring in its step. But a missed penalty from Salem Al-Dawsari, the scorer of a Messi-esque goal in front of Messi the other afternoon, left the side disappointed after a 2-0 loss to Poland. 

A goal down and with a single first-half minute (+ 10 added minutes) to play, Al-Dawsari, unfortunately, was up against one of the best spot-kick stoppers in the game. Wojciech Szczesny dived to his right to save his 25th penalty by keeping the Saudi No. 10’s tame effort away. He was quick to his feet to get a fingertip to Mohammed Al-Burayk’s crisply hit volley. 

The penalty came after a VAR check, Krystian Bielik guilty of a light touch on Saleh Al Shehri’s trailing ankle inside the box. 

The Polish goal, despite the relentless Saudi Arabian pressure, came in the 39th minute. An alive and agile Piotr Zielinski was there in the six-yards box to score the first goal of the game as Robert Lewandowski, deterred by the ‘keeper first, chased to keep the ball in play.   

The Saudis, till then, had enough chances but the goals never came. Early on, in the 13th minute, Mohamed Kanno played a ball to the right and as the cut back came to him a stinging flier followed, grazing Szczesny’s fingers to safely sail into the stands. 

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A sustained spell of possession of patient building around the box brought in a cross from Saud Abdulhamid and Kamil Glik had to rise high to thwart the danger lurking. 

The Polish came close in the 26th minute as Krystian Bielik’s towering header from a Zielinski corner was bravely butted out from the goal-line by Saleh Al-Shehri. 

Saudi Arabia and Al-Dawsari had a fortuitous chance to redeem for the penalty miss as the game restarted, but the captain failed to keep his shot down as a lucky ball fell to him from a penalty box scuffle. 

As the Saudis pressed forward more in hope and desperation, the Polish players were happy to exploit the open spaces. Arkadiusz Milik first hit the crossbar in the 62nd minute and Lewandowski, eager to score a first Cup goal, managed a weak contact with the calf of his right leg, and the ball eluded an alarmed Mohammed Al-Owais but the post, again, was there to save him. 

The Barcelona striker finally had his first World Cup goal in the 82nd minute as defender Abdulelah Al-Malki made a hash of an innocuous ball with the predator lurking. The ball was stolen, the goal was scored and the Saudi dream of making it to the World Cup knockouts was not yet fulfilled.

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