Argentina demolish Poland but scoreline keeps Polish dreams alive as both teams progress

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Argentina demolish Poland but scoreline keeps Polish dreams alive as both teams progress
Updated
Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring for Argentina
Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring for Argentina
AFP
Argentina completely outplayed Poland in the teams' last group game at the World Cup. A missed Messi penalty and some last-ditch defending meant that Poland only lost 2-0 but it could have been a lot worse. In the end, Poland will progress to the round of 16, along with Argentina, because of a superior goal difference to Mexico.

20:03 CET: Well, what a night of drama!

Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland, coupled with Mexico's 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia, means that Argentina finish on top of Group C. They progress to the round of 16, where they will meet Australia on Saturday. 

Poland and Mexico both finish on four points in the group but Poland's superior goal difference has sent them through to a knockout date with France.

It's funny in a way because Poland didn't deserve anything based on tonight's performance. They really could have lost by four or five but their heroic keeper Wojciech Szczesny and some dogged defence have kept them in the tournament.

Mexican hearts will be broken after coming so close.

Read our full match report here and see all the match stats below.

Fulltime statistics
Opta by Stats Perform

LIVE from Saudi Arabia - Mexico: The match finishes 2-1 to Mexico which means Poland are through ahead of Mexico on goal difference. Wow, what a night.

LIVE from Saudi Arabia - Mexico: Out of nowhere, Saudi Arabia have pulled a goal back against Mexico, it's 2-1, and that means that unless Mexico can score another one, Poland will go through to the round of 16.

96': And that's full-time! Poland are now praying that Mexico don't score another goal against Saudi Arabia.

95': Poland are hanging on here and if this performance keeps them in the tournament it will be a curious result - they haven't been good tonight at all.

93': Almost a third goal! Some last-ditch defence keeps Tagliafico's effort from going in and that save might send Poland through.

91': There will be six minutes added on. Can Poland survive?

90': It's a funny match now. Poland don't care if they have the ball or not and Argentina are running out of reasons to attack - they've already won!

88': Argentina has had an incredible 72 per cent of possession so far. Poland are sitting so deep and it looks like they are just waiting this game out and hoping they don't concede or Mexico score. 

86': Poland are living a charmed life here. Lautaro Martinez goes through on goal but pulls his shot wide. He really should have scored and it would have sent Poland packing.

83': Krychowiak comes off for Poland and is replaced by Krzysztof Piatek as Poland look to go for a bit more attacking thrust.

Goalscorer Mac Allister is also off for Argentina and is replaced by Thiago Almada.

82': Into the final stages here and Poland are hardly touching the ball. They don't need a goal to go through but they have to hope that Mexico don't score in their match.

79': Double sub for Argentina. The goalscorer Alvarez and Enzo Fernandez are both off. Lautaro Martinez and German Pezzella are both on.

78': Krychowiak (Poland) receives a yellow card and that narrow the gap between Poland and Mexico in to 7-5. Don't get two more yellows the coach will be screaming now.

73': Alvarez bursts through and he is in on goal but fires just wide.

Poland have not mustered anything this half but they cannot concede again. 

72': Artur Jedrzejczyk (Poland) joins the action as a substitute, replacing Bartosz Bereszynski.

69': As it stands - with Poland 2-0 down and Mexico 2-0 up, Poland and Mexico are level on points, goal difference and goals scored. But Poland are ahead because they have received fewer yellow cards! Hard to believe it is that tight but it is! 

68': Goal! Alvarez for Argentina! That's a lovely finish from the young man. He finds a little pocket of space and rifles the ball into the top right corner. Argentina deserve that. And now, it's looking bleak for Poland.

62': Poland make another substitution. Damian Szymanski replaces Krystian Bielik.

59': A double change for Argentina. Acuna is replaced by Tagliafico. And Di Maria is replaced by Paredes.

57': Back to stadium 974 and Argentina continue to dominate possession. The changes made at halftime haven't helped Poland yet and that early goal was a real deflator. They now need to grab an equaliser to take the pressure off.

LIVE from Saudi Arabia - Mexico: Mexico have scored again! A sensational free kick! It's now 2-0 there and the Mexicans are closing in on Poland, just one goal behind them now.

LIVE from Saudi Arabia - Mexico: In the group's other match, Mexico have scored so they now lead 1-0. As it stands, it's not enough for Mexico to lead-frog Poland into second place, they trail still on goal difference.

50': And Kamil Glik comes close for Poland from the resulting free kick, glancing a header wide.

49': There's a yellow card for the feisty Marcos Acuna.

46': GOAL! Argentina! Well, what a start to the half for the South Americans. The right back Molina drove to the byline and cut it back into the box to Alexis Mac Allister who guided it into the far bottom corner. 

45': Argentina kick things off. 

21:04 CET: We are back for the second half and there will be a double change for Poland as they look to get into the game. Skoras and Kaminski are on in place of Frankowski and Swiderski.

Lionel Messi doesn't miss too many penalties as you can see by his Penalty History graphic below. It was a dubious penalty that was given after a VAR check but Wojciech Szczesny's fantastic save rendered that irrelevant.

Will Argentina come to rue that huge opportunity missed as the match wears on? Stay tuned to find out.

Messi's penalty taking history
Opta by Stats Perform

First Half

Take a look at the first-half stats below. As is evident, Argentina have dominated the half and the big story is Messi's penalty being saved by Szczesny.

They didn't deserve that penalty but they do probably deserve the lead. As it stands, though, it's still goalless here.

It's also goalless at halftime in the group's other match between Saudi Arabia and Mexico. It's a similar story there - Mexico have dominated the possession and chances but are yet to break the deadlock. 

All that means, the group is exactly as it was before kickoff.

First-half stats
Opta by Stats Perform

49': That's half time here. Stay tuned for the first-half stats.

46': There will be three minutes added onto the half.

43': Another good effort from Alvarez as he smashes a shot at Szczesny. They are peppering him in the goal but the Poland keeper is having one hell of a half.

39': Messi steps up to take it but MISSES! Wow! What a save by Szczesny! He's done it again. He saved one against Saudi Arabia and now this one too. That's justice done for a very iffy penalty decision in my opinion.

Szczesny dives full-length to his left and brilliantly saves the penalty.

38': He's given the penalty. Controversial decision that was harsh on Szczesny. 

37': There's a VAR check here for a possible penalty. The check is for a possible foul on Messi as he went to head the ball.

36': Alvarez gets played into the box but Szczesny remains resolute once again to deny him. Alvarez has been pretty lively up front.

33': Di Maria whips in a wicked corner that bends back in on goal and it would have gone in if it weren't for the diving Szczesny. 

29': Two big chances for Argentina! First, Alvarez flicks a shot that is just wide and then the left back Acuna blasts a shot that fizzes past the post. That's gotten the Argentina fans bouncing even more!

27': As you can see below, it's been mostly Argentina up to this point.

Momentum so far
Opta by Stats Perform

25': Still not too much to write home about in this match yet. Argentina started the brighter but Poland are getting their foot on the ball a bit more as they ease into the contest. It's quite a cagey affair, a little nervy out there as both sides know a lot is riding on this.

17': Acuna is picked out well by Messi's lofted ball in the box and fires a shot at the Poland goal but it flies over. More pressure from Argentina, though.

15': After a quarter hour here, the Argentines have dominated the ball and the chances. Poland have yet to really threaten them and they look happy to stand off Argentina and try to catch them on the break.

10': Messi gets another shot off but Szczesny is equal to that one as well. The Argentines look very comfortable on the ball so far.

8': It's a loud atmosphere out there with the Argentina faithful particularly vocal.

7': Our first sight of a Messi threat with his first shot but it is comfortably saved by Szczesny. Argentina have dominated possession so far as the sides feel each other out. 

1': Poland kick the match off.

Pre-match

21:58 CET: Argentina will play in their change strip of all blue with a touch of purple tonight. Poland are in their customary red and white. Tonight's referee is D. Makkelie from the Netherlands.

19:54 CET: Welcome to our live updates for the critical Group C match between Poland and Argentina. The teams are out for the anthems in the most poetically named Stadium 974 in Doha. Argentina want a win to secure top spot in the group, Poland would take a draw but you can bet they want to secure top spot in order to avoid France. A reminder for you that the team who tops the group will face Australia in the round of 16.

Team News

Poland: Wojciech Szczesny, Kamil Glik, Jakub Kiwior, Matty Cash, Bartosz Bereszynski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Piotr Zielinski, Krystian Bielik, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Karol Swiderski, Robert Lewandowski.

Argentina: Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nahuel Molina, Rodrigo De Paul, Marcos Acuna, Alexis Mac Allister, Enzo Fernandez, Angel Di Maria, Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi.

See how the teams shape up here.

Introduction

Both Argentina and Poland know that a win in tonight's game will send them through to the round of 16. A draw could send them both through, too, but only Poland would definitely qualify in that case. So expect Argentina to be shooting for all three points.

Argentina started their World Cup with a shock loss to Saudi Arabia but got back on track with a hard-fought win over Mexico.  

Poland played out a draw with Mexico and then beat the Saudis thanks to impressive performances from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and talisman Robert Lewandowski. 

In the group's other final-day clash, Saudi Arabia take on Mexico. Each of the four teams in the group could mathematically go through to the next round. It's should be an exciting evening of football ahead.

Follow Poland versus Argentina with us here via our live updates or use our audio commentary feature here.