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World Cup 2022: Goalless opener for Poland, Lewandowski penalty saved

Czesław Michniewicz set up the Poland team in a defensive 4-1-4-1 formation, seemingly seeking to contain Mexico in their opening match in Doha, with only an unconverted penalty by Robert Lewandowski getting pulses racing in a drab 0:0 stalemate.

It was a cagey opening 20 minutes with neither side willing to commit many men forward to attacks for fear of being caught on the counter.

The first chance of the game came for Mexico when Vega out jumped Cash at the back post and headed back across Wojciech Szczęsny, the ball bounced narrowly past the post.

The Mexicans took heart from carving out that half chance and began to dictate proceedings, pinning the Poles back in their half right up until the break.

It was not until the stroke of half time though until a keeper was forced into a save when Jorge Sanchez blasted a shot from a tight angle straight at Szczęsny, who tipped over.

The game temporarily came to life when Poland were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute. The referee judged that Lewandowski had been pulled back in the penalty area. The number nine picked himself up to take the spot kick but his shot was rather tame and at favourable height to Ochoa’s left and the Mexican keeper palmed it away.

As had been widely discussed before Lewandowski is seeking his first World Cup goal and he looked bitterly disappointed not to have done so here, having spent much of the match isolated on his own up front.

In the end, neither side could say they truly deserved to take three points and given the hugely surprising result in the earlier group encounter – Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2:1 – the draw in this match leaves the group particularly open.

The feeling that Poland would be able to comfortably see off the Saudis has changed but with Poland facing Argentina in their final match they will almost certainly be required to beat the middle easterners in order to get out of the group.

Poland will face Saudi Arabia on Saturday and although coach Michniewicz’s safety first strategy in the opener was understandable he will have to be a little more adventurous to break down a stubborn looking Saudi outfit.

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Check TVP World’s group preview for an in-depth dive into all eight groups and 32 teams.

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F

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