Doha: Argentina struck twice to beat Poland to qualify for the knock-out stages of the FIFA World Cup tournament at Stadium 974 on Wednesday. Alexis Mac Allister opened the scoring for Argentina in the 47th minute, followed by a beautiful finish from Álvarez in the 68th minute to seal Argentina a place in the Round of 16.
Meanwhile, Poland goes to the next round on goal difference despite Mexico beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Group C. Henry Martin and Luis Chaves each scored in Mexico's furious attempt to stay alive at the World Cup, but the 2-1 victory Wednesday night over Saudi Arabia was not enough. Mexico failed to advance out of its group for the first time since 1978.
Alexis Mac Allister scored his first goal for the country after Molina cut back a neat ball from the byline, and the Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder steered the ball into the back of the net. In the 68th minute, 22-year-old Julián Álvarez scored the second of the night after Enzo Fernandez found Manchester Player inside the box. He struck it sweetly, and it rifled into the roof of Poland’s net.
Poland looked comfortable staying in the defence and avoiding conceding more goals as the game went to the advantage of Argentina.
Earlier, Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Argentina failed to open the scoring against Poland in the first half of their must-win match in the Group B of the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday. Poland goalkeeper Szczesny makes a diving save to deny Messi from scoring from the spot in the 39th minute.
Argentina dominated the first half with several chances created against a defensive-looking Poland side. Teenage sensation Alvarez, who was selected to start alongside Messi, and Di Maria, nearly opened the scoring for Argentina in the 44th minute after a forward run with the ball and slamming a powerful shot at Szczęsny. The keeper cannot keep hold of it, but luckily, no Argentine converted on the rebound.
Starting off the match in an all-blue jersey, Argentina earned their first corner of the match. But it was guarded well by the Polish defence.
Robert Lewandowski gets in a decent cross from the right and Krystian Bielik's shot from the edge of the box got blocked. Even Messi made a couple of attempts at the goal in the opening 10 minutes but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made saves both times.
Argentina was extremely aggressive in their pursuit of opening goal and kept making chances for themselves in the first 20 minutes. They also enjoyed a great deal of ball possession. Poland were trying their level best to attack but every attempt of theirs was thwarted by Argentinians.
Marcos Acuna and Messi were the stars for Argentina in the first 30 minutes of the match with their aggressive gameplay. In the 32nd minute, Angel Di Maria tried to hit Poland with a curling corner but the goalkeeper managed to avert the danger with one hand.
In the 35th minute, Messi responded to Julian Alvarez's cross well but his header missed the goal. Argentina was awarded a penalty after a VAR review caught minimal contact between him and another player.
Messi could not convert the penalty into a goal and the goalkeeper made his second save of the tournament, a brilliant one-handed save this time around.
Three minutes were added to the first half. The first half was goalless but featured heavily aggressive gameplay from Argentina, some brilliant defending from Poland.
Enzo Fernandez was rewarded for his World Cup goal against Mexico with his first-ever start for Argentina as manager Lionel Scaloni made four changes to face Poland on Wednesday. Di Maria and left back Acuna found a lot of space on both wings and managed to whip in dangerous balls into Poland's box. However, Argentina struggled to get past in-form goalkeeper Szczesny.
On the other end, Lewandowski struggled to receive any ball from his teammates and is largely absent from his team's play.
The Benfica player replaces Guido Rodriguez in midfield, with Julian Alvarez coming in for Lautaro Martinez up front.
The other two changes were in defence, with Nahuel Molina replacing Gonzalo Montiel and Cristian Romero coming back into the side in place of Lisandro Martinez.
Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz made one change, with forward Karol Swiderski coming in for Arkadiusz Milik.
Argentina needs a win to be sure of progressing, while a point would be enough if Mexico and Saudi Arabia draw in the other Group C game. Poland can qualify for the last 16 for the first time since 1986 with a draw.