World Cup Group C opening in Doha ended in a scoreless tie between Mexico and Poland despite Guillermo Ochoa saving a penalty kick from Robert Lewandowski.
In a match devoid of actual offensive flair, Mexico posed the greater threat, but Poland’s greatest opportunity to come away with all three points came when Lewandowski was hauled down in the area by Hector Moreno and a penalty was granted after a VAR review.
Lewandowski got up after being knocked down, but his weak penalty attempt was saved by Ochoa, who is 37 years old and making a record sixth appearance at the World Cup.
Despite Ochoa’s heroics and the ardent backing of the Mexican fans in the bleachers, Mexico was unable to pull off a win, and a draw sent both teams to the bottom of Group C, below Saudi Arabia (who surprised Argentina earlier on Tuesday) after only one game.
Lewandowski is unable to break the deadlock with Mexico
Alexis Vega leapt at the back post and sent a header bouncing just wide for Mexico, who narrowly won the first quarter.
A few seconds later, Jesus Gallardo’s run into the area pulled Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny out of position, but the Polish defense was there to clear the ball after it had ricocheted off the post.
The second half of the game was far more exciting than the first. Within seven minutes of the resumption, Hirving Lozano’s dipping effort from distance called for Szczesny to make a save, and then, thanks to VAR, Poland had an opportunity to finally break the stalemate.
Moreno was called for a penalty when he was seen to have brought down Lewandowski within the box, despite Mexican protestations, but Ochoa produced a spectacular save to deny Poland’s all-time top scorer his first World Cup goal from the spot.
The stage was created for Mexico to go forward and grab the victory, but they were unable to do so, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw after the first night.
Another miss for Mexico
The shocking loss by Argentina to Saudi Arabia earlier on Tuesday threw Group C wide open, but it also may have encouraged Mexico and Poland to take it easy in their meeting in Doha.
As has been the case for a few of seasons now, Mexico dominated possession and shot attempts but failed to create any real goal scoring chances.
Only 18 goals have been scored by Gerardo Martino’s side in their 18 matches this calendar year, with Vega, who began on the left of Mexico’s front three, being the team’s highest scorer with only four goals.
Mexico also failed to impress in CONCACAF qualification, finishing second out of eight teams after scoring 17 goals and allowing just eight in 14 games.
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Mexico’s inability to score in each of their past three World Cup matches was not helped by their goalless draw with Poland.
Mexico’s match against Argentina on Saturday would be a great opportunity for them to finally start scoring goals. If Martino is able to lead his team to victory against his old employers, they will not only have a great chance of advancing to the round of 16, but they may also remove one of the tournament’s favorites.