Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia: World Cup 2022 – as it happened
Here’s your match report, from Louise Taylor at the game. Thanks for joining us.
Poland celebrate. Robert Lewandowski in particular is delighted, having scored his 77th goal for his country, and his first at a World Cup finals. Poland had to dig deep for that win. It might have been different had Salem Al Dawsari, Saudi Arabia’s hero against Argentina, scored from the spot just before half time. However Wojciech Szczęsny saved, then tipped the rebound effort spectacularly over the bar, and it turned out to be one of those days for the Saudis, who were impressive in attack but just couldn’t find the final touch. But it’s still all to play for in Group C. Over to Argentina and Mexico, who face off this evening!
FULL TIME: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia
Poland move to the top of Group C at Saudi Arabia’s expense.
90 min +6: Saudi Arabia have had no luck with injuries this week, and they’ve had no luck in front of goal today. Kanno tries to send a curler into the bottom right, but the ball bounces inches wide of the post. Szczesny wouldn’t have got to it.
90 min +5: Al Abid is replaced by Bahbri.
90 min +4: Play is stopped so Al Abid can get some treatment for a sore face, Lewandowski having accidentally planted his knee on it.
90 min +3: Alobud makes his presence felt down the right and sends in a couple of crosses in short order. Both are easily cleared.
90 min +2: Poland win another corner, this time on the left. Frankowski swings it in. Al Owais punches it clear.
90 min +1: The first of seven bonus minutes, and Poland do nothing with their corner.
90 min: The Education City Stadium is pretty quiet now, with Poland almost home and hosed. Lewandowski dribbles down the inside-right channel and breaks through a tired Saudi defence. He’s one on one with Al Owais! He attempts to dink over, but the keeper sticks out a strong arm to deflect wide right. What a save!
Updated at 3.07pm GMT
88 min: A chance for Alobud to run at the last man Bereszynski, but the Poland defender is not to be moved. Some stubborn behaviour, and Alobud is forced to turn tail.
87 min: Al Dawsari crosses deep from the left. Alobud rises highest at the far stick but can only waft a header onto the top of the net.
86 min: Al Shehri and the bitterly disappointed Al Malki make way for Alobud and Al Dawsari.
84 min: Lewandowski celebrates with the air of a man who has just had the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders. It’s been a long time coming. When it did, it was farcical. But they all count!
GOAL! Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia (Lewandowski 82)
Robert Lewandowski finally scores a goal at a World Cup … and it’s a gift from Saudi Arabia. Al Bulayhi, on the left-hand corner of his own box, rolls a pass along the line towards Al Malki in the middle. Al Malki takes his eye off the ball and lets it roll under his boot. Lewandowski nicks it away and slots past Al Owais, simple as that!
Updated at 2.57pm GMT
80 min: Space for Al Gannam down the right. He chests a long pass down and creams a cross through the six-yard box. Al Shehri dives at the near post but can’t connect. The Saudis have come so close, so often, but there’s still no reward.
Updated at 2.46pm GMT
79 min: Abdulhamid dribbles into the Poland box from the left. He can’t quite get a shot away. The ball breaks back to Almalki, with time and space to shoot from the edge of the D. His low fizzer sails inches wide of the right-hand post. Not entirely sure Szczesny was getting to that had it been on target.
77 min: Al Amri is back up and running.
76 min: Al Amri is down with a sore shoulder. On come the physios.
75 min: Saudi Arabia probe. Poland steal the ball and counter. Kaminski slips Lewandowski clear from the halfway line. Al Owais races out of his box and blasts the ball away from Lewandowski’s reach, just in time.
73 min: Piatek makes his way down the right and cuts back for Lewandowski, who takes a first-time slap at goal. Blocked. Poland are threatening a second that would surely seal the deal.
71 min: Milik makes way for Piatek.
69 min: Al Dawsari sends a curler towards the bottom right. Szczesny is behind it all the way.
68 min: Al Abid slams the free kick straight into the Poland wall. What a waste.
67 min: Al Brikan dribbles down the inside-right channel and is crudely shoved over by Bielik. A free kick coming up in a very dangerous position, just outside the Polish box.
65 min: Al Gannam comes on for Al Burayk. Play restarts and Poland hit the woodwork again! A low cross from the right is met by Lewandowski, who sidefoots over Al Owais and onto the right-hand post! Poland denied by the frame of the goal twice in a couple of minutes!
64 min: The crossbar is still reverberating.
63 min: Zielinski is replaced by Kaminski. Play restarts, and Frankowski crosses from the left. Milik launches into a Keith Houchenesque diving header, aiming for the top left. His header crashes off the bar and away! That would have been a hell of a goal!
Updated at 2.35pm GMT
61 min: And another chance! Al Shehri dribbles in from the right and prepares to shoot, only to lose control of his legs. The ball breaks to Kanno, who hoicks over. How are Saudi Arabia not level?
60 min: A beautiful spin on the edge of the Poland box by Al Dawsari, making space in the pocket and slipping Al Brikan into the box. Al Brikan shoots across Szczesny but wide and high. What a chance!
59 min: “The goalmouth scramble has reignited the home, sorry Saudi, crowd,” reports Hugh Molloy. “Yalla, yalla!”
57 min: Cash converts in the rugby-union style from 30 yards. An equal level of absurdity to the melee of a couple of minutes ago.
55 min: A huge tangle in the Polish box. Al Abid, Al Dawsari and Al Shehri all attempt to prod home from six yards, legs and boots poking out of an absurd comic-strip cloud. Somehow they can’t get past Szczesny, who makes a stop. His defenders chip in with a couple of blocks, and eventually the ball’s blazed over the bar. How did that not go in?
53 min: Al Shehri clatters into the back of Krychowiak, and is fortunate to escape a booking.
51 min: Al Dawsari works his way down the left and earns a corner off Milik. The ball’s worked from left to right and swung into the box by Al Burayk. Kanno attempts an overhead kick, but no Richarlison he. Wide right, though full marks for ambition.
Updated at 2.24pm GMT
49 min: Al Owais sprints over-confidently out of his box and nearly cleans out Krychowiak. Fortunately there’s no contact or he’d be in the wonderful world of Wayne Hennessey.
48 min: Al Abid’s free kick is a waste of time. Poland clear it easily enough, and Milik draws a foul from Al Dawsari to release the pressure.
47 min: Al Burayk wins an early second-half corner for the Saudis. Al Abid takes, and takes long. The ball’s half cleared, but Krychowiak bundles Al Burayk over and it’s a free kick for the Saudis out on the right.
Saudi Arabia get the second half underway. They’ve made one change, swapping out Al Naji for Al Abid. “Cash should definitely have walked,” writes Ingo Herzke. “That elbow was far worse than the foul he was booked for. But he was allowed to make the Polish goal.”
Half-time team talk, courtesy of Guillaume Clément . “That video of Hervé Renard’s pep talk at half-time vs Argentina reminds me of the great Gallic tradition of the half-time hairdryer treatment as last seen in Aimé Jacquet’s verbal walloping of the French team at half-time of the semi-final vs Croatia in 1998. Even if you don’t speak French, the tone and body language speak for themselves.”
HALF TIME: Poland 1-0 Saudi Arabia
The exact same position the Saudis found themselves in against Argentina, you’ll remember.
45 min +10: Al Dawsari takes a heavy touch allowing Poland to counter. Lewandowski should scoot clear, but he allows the ball to clank between his legs and away.
45 min +8: Frankowski slips a pass in from the right. Zielinski can’t quite get to the ball, allowing Al Owais to deal with the situation.
45 min +7: A pause in play as Al Malki goes down, requiring treatment. We’ll have more than ten added minutes now.
45 min +5: You’ll notice we’re well into added time. There’s going to be another five minutes of it as well.
45 min +4: Al Amri is booked for a frustrated lunge on Lewandowski.
45 min +3: Szczesny looked off his line – just – when Al Dawsari took that penalty. But here we are.
Updated at 2.04pm GMT
45 min +2: That’s sucked the air out of the stadium all right. Poland celebrated Szczesny’s saves as you would a goal.
Updated at 2.04pm GMT
45 min +1: … but Szczesny gets down and parries! The rebound falls to Al Burayk, who blazes over! Hold on, no he doesn’t! That’s on target, and Szczesny has made a stunning reflex save! There’s a question as to whether Szczesny was off his line for the initial save, but there won’t be a retake, and the corner comes to nothing.
Updated at 2.04pm GMT
45 min: Al Brikan prepares to take. Lewandowski trots up and stands in front of him. Delaying tactics to unsettle Al Brikan … and so Saudi change the taker! Al Dawsari steps up and aims for the bottom left …
Penalty for Saudi Arabia!
44 min: The referee goes over to the screen, makes the TV mime, and points to the spot. The crowd go wild!
Updated at 1.48pm GMT
43 min: Noise back up! Al Shehri goes over in the box. It’s theatrical, but Bielik has made contact with his ankle. VAR to check!
42 min: That’s quietened the stadium a little. “Media and BP section placement absolutely killing Mexican Waves this World Cup,” writes Hugh Molloy. “I’ll leave it with you to decide if this is a good thing!”
40 min: Poland, their tails suddenly up, nearly make it two in short order. Lewandowski powers down the inside-right channel and whistles the ball across the face of goal. There’s nobody in white there to trundle home.
GOAL! Poland 1-0 Saudi Arabia (Zielinski 39)
Saudi Arabia have been the better side, but it’s Poland who lead! Cash is sent scampering into space down the right. He crosses low. Lewandowski tries to lift the ball over Al Owais, but the ball breaks to the right of the six-yard box. Lewandowski chases after the ball himself and cuts back for Zielinski, who roofs home from six yards!
Updated at 1.50pm GMT
38 min: Al Bulayhi is bandaged and back up and running.
37 min: Al Bulayhi is down, Lewandowski having accidentally studded him on the arm accidentally in that aforementioned incident. The pause in play allows Renard to give Al Naji and Al Shehri some beneficial tactical advice in this style:
36 min: Lewandowski thinks he’s battled his way past Al Bulayhi down the right, but as he prepares to shoot from a tight angle, the referee penalises him for pulling his opponent to the ground.
34 min: Al Amri crunches into Milik. Hard but fair. The crowd loved that. A huge roar. “Brilliant family, as well as febrile, atmosphere in today,” reports this report’s co-author Hugh Molloy.
32 min: Abdulhamid works his way down the right and cuts back for Al Naji, who whistles a cross through the Polish box. Al Shehri can’t get on the end of it. Poland aren’t settled at all.
30 min: A long ball nearly releases Lewandowski down the middle. The big man can’t control. Saudi counter, and Kanno foolishly but deliberately handballs on the edge of the Polish box. No need for it, but he doesn’t go into the book, much to the annoyance of several Poland players and assorted members of their bench.
28 min: One of Hervé Renard’s assistants cops a yellow card for excessive flapping of the neck. He accepts his punishment meekly and sits back down in the dugout.
26 min: Poland win their first corner down the right, and nearly convert it. Zielinski swings it in. Bielik rises and sends a powerful header goalwards. Al Shehri, near his own goalline, eyebrows it over the bar. Nothing comes of the next corner.
Updated at 1.33pm GMT
24 min: Al Sawsari dribbles fast and hard down the left. Poland backpedal fast. Al Sawsari is forced to turn tail, but Saudi probe again, this time down the right. Glik clears Abdulhamid’s cross.
22 min: After a brief period of treatment, Al Burayk is back up and about. Cash has the good grace to look a bit sheepish. He knows he might have got away with one there.
20 min: Cash sticks his elbow into Al Burayk’s neck. Al Malki isn’t happy at all with the foul, and tells the referee as much. He gets booked for his trouble and will miss the next game. As for Cash, he’s very fortunate not to see a second yellow. Another referee might have sent him packing there.
19 min: Yet another Polish booking as Milik tugs at the in-flight Al Amri’s shirt. Poland aren’t coping well with the Saudi press at all.
17 min: Al Burayk swings a harmless free kick into the Polish box. Easy for Szczesny.
16 min: … and Cash quickly follows him into the book, sliding in late on Al Dawsari. Kiwior’s yellow was slightly harsh, but there was nothing for Cash to complain about there.
Updated at 1.22pm GMT
15 min: The first booking of the match. Kiwior accidentally high-kicks Al Shehri and sees yellow.
13 min: Cash thinks he’s sent Lewandowski free down the middle but the referee pulls the play back for a foul. There didn’t seem a whole lot wrong with that. The lively Kanno goes up the other end and aims for the top right, forcing Szczesny to tip over the bar. Nothing comes of the resulting corner but the underdogs appear to be in the mood to do their thing again.
11 min: Kanno is definitely in the mood to put it about. He slides in late on Krychowiak and is lucky not to go into the book. “This is the best atmosphere by miles,” reports our man in the stand Hugh Molloy. “Arabia vs The World.”
Updated at 1.15pm GMT
10 min: Saudi have enjoyed 57 percent of possession so far. But it’s Poland who nearly fashion the first big chance, Bereszynski rolling a pass down the inside-left channel that nearly finds Lewandowski in the box. The ball sails through to Al Owais in the Saudi goal.
8 min: A corner for Saudi on the right. Nothing comes of it.
Updated at 1.18pm GMT
7 min: Sorry, we’re having some technical issues. You’ve not missed much.
Updated at 1.09pm GMT
4 min: Saudi are on the front foot early doors. Al Shehri dribbles into the Polish box from the left but can’t work enough space to shoot from a tight angle.
Updated at 1.07pm GMT
2 min: All Naji skitters in from the left and slips over. He wants a free kick on the edge of the box but he’s not getting one. The predominately Saudi-supporting crowd boo vociferously.
1 min: A fairly brisk start. Passes not sticking. Kanno leaves one on Lewandowski, just to let him know he’s there.
Updated at 1.10pm GMT
Saudi pose for a group photo. They hold up the shirt of the stricken Yasser Al-Shahrani, a show of support and love. Then Poland get the ball rolling.
The teams are out! Poland in white, the Saudis in second-choice green. Hugh Molloy is at the ground with his four-year-old, Rufus. “It’s clear that the Qatari supporters are firmly on team Saudi today,” he writes. “As to fashion, there’s a brilliant 50/50 split between Saudi shirts and traditional white thobes. Those with white gutras, the head piece, tend to be Qatari, the red/white check style is more Saudi. It’s 99% Saudi fans and band wagon jumping neutrals today. Rufus is on team Poland because his favourite colour is red.” We’ll be off once the anthems are played.
Updated at 12.56pm GMT
Pre-match pep talk.
“I found the video of Hervé Renard’s halftime team talk from the Argentina game really interesting,” writes Kári Tulinius. “His body language is so expressive that the Arabic interpreter is almost unnecessary. I feel I would’ve understood him even with the sound off.”
Poland boss Czeslaw Michniewicz has responded to accusations of being overly defensive by giving Robert Lewandowski a strike partner. Arkadiusz Milik will assist their star man up front.
Saudi Arabia are without Yasser Al-Shahrani. The defender collided with his own keeper, Mohamed Al-Owais, during the last throes of the win over Argentina and suffered a broken jaw and internal bleeding. He’s had surgery back home and happily has posted on Twitter that his “health is good”.
Poland: Szczesny, Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior, Cash, Bielik, Krychowiak, Frankowski, Zielinski, Milik, Lewandowski.
Subs: Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Bednarek, Damian Szymanski, Grosicki, Skorupski, Kaminski, Swiderski, Zurkowski, Sebastian Szymanski, Zalewski, Grabara, Piatek, Gumny, Skoras.
Saudi Arabia: Al-Owais, Abdulhamid, Al-Amri, Al-Bulayhi, Al-Burayk, Al-Malki, Al-Buraikan, Al-Naji, Kanno, Salem Al-Dawsari, Al-Shehri.
Subs: Al-Rubaie, Al-Ghanam, Madu, Otayf, Al-Hassan, Al-Abed, Bahbri, Al-Aboud, Al-Aqidi, Nasser Al-Dawsari, Asiri, Tambakti.
In case you were wondering what that almighty rattle was, the earth was knocked off its axis last Tuesday by this …
… and now Saudi Arabia are one win away from securing a place in the last 16 for only the second time in their history. The first being 1994, Belgium, Saeed Al-Owairan, all that. Poland’s uninspiring goalless draw with Mexico – in which Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty – will surely have given the Saudis extra belief that they can make it. Not that they really require it after seeing off Lionel Messi et al, but you get the general gist. Poland meanwhile will feel a win is essential, with a final game against pre-tournament favourites Argentina coming up. Kick off is at 1pm GMT, 4pm at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan. انه يحدث! It’s on!