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Messi’s blushes spared as Argentina progress

By Dylan Bettencourt

After losing their opener to Saudi Arabia, Argentina managed to defeat Mexico last week and then Poland on Wednesday to advance to the knockout stages.

Meanwhile, Mexico didn’t manage to do enough to qualify in second place, finishing below Poland on goal difference after beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia secured one of the biggest upsets in Fifa World Cup history by beating the favourites Argentina in their opening game of the tournament.

However, the South American side bounced back to secure consecutive 2-0 victories over both Mexico and Poland to book their spot in the round of 16.

Argentina needed to defeat Poland on Wednesday night and when the Copa America champions were awarded a penalty and Lionel Messi stepped up, the lead looked likely.

But Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny saved the penalty for the second time this tournament and the sides went into the break goalless.

Whatever Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni told his side worked a treat as Alexis Mac Allister found the back of the net just a minute into the second-half.

Argentina had a deserved lead and Messi’s blushes were saved – even more so when Julian Alvarez scored a stunner to double his side’s lead.

Argentina’s fate was all but secured while Poland’s remained up in the air.

With Mexico beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the other Group C fixture, progression into the next round would have come down to how many yellow cards each side received.

Mexico went into the lead moments into the second-half with Henry Martin finding the back of the net.

Four minutes later Luis Chaves doubled Mexico’s lead – only needing one more goal, either for themselves or from Argentina, to advance.

However, with minutes to go Saudi Arabia found the back of the net to reduce Mexico’s goal difference and end all hope for Mexico.

Poland ended with a zero goal difference and Mexico ended with that of -1 -just one goal the difference in the end.

Argentina ended the group stage as winners and booked their round of 16 date against Australia on Saturday night.

Poland has the difficult task of facing current World Cup champions France on Sunday afternoon after scraping the runners-up spot.

Pictured above: Argentina’s celebrations

Image source: @FifaWorldCup

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