Ochoa saves Poland penalty to secure a draw for Mexico

Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty as Mexico secured a 0-0 draw against Poland.

Stadium 974 hosted the clash of two perennial underdogs from Group C, as former Ballon d’Or winner Robert Lewandowski fought off a passionate Mexico side.

Mexico have been knocked out in the Round of 16 on each of the past seven occasions it has appeared in a World Cup. Poland, by contrast, have not made it out of the group stages since 1986, when it hosted the World Cup.

The star man of the match was none other than Guillermo Ochoa, who has now taken part in five World Cups over a span of decades. He was already the best player of the tournament in Mexican history, and showed that he hasn’t slowed down by blocking Poland’s penalty.

To their disappointment, the penalty was their only clear chance, with the Mexicans controlling most of the game.

Mexico go on the attack

The first half saw an extremely comfortable Mexican side, who kept most of the possession and was eager to get forward at every opportunity. Poland, meanwhile, seemed happy to sit back, invite them in and hope to catch them on a break.

Neither plan worked that well, until Mexico started running behind the left flank.

The first chance came as Hector Herrera sends a cross into the Poland penalty area from the byline and Alexis Vega outjumped Matty Cash at the far post on the edge of the six-yard box. After making decent contact with the ball, it floated across the face of goal and bounced narrowly wide. 

The bigger chance, which was ruled out due to a handball in the buildup, saw a one on one situation with the Polish keeper. An excellent Luis Chavez cross from the left swept through the Poland penalty area and somehow found its way untroubled to Irving Lozano on the left side of the penalty area, near the byline. However, his attempt to drill it across the face of goal was blocked.

Penalty saved

The second half saw a rejuvenated Poland start to attack. Lewandwoski burst between two defenders and went to ground in the Mexico penalty area, with Hector Moreno holding a large fistful of his shirt.

Poland won a penalty, but was quickly left disappointed after keeper Ochoa dived to his left and saved Lewandowski’s shot.

The Mexicans – with booming support in the stadium – continued to hammer Poland with chance after chance. Notably, Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny was called into action and parried a deflected Edson Alvarez shot from outside the penalty area. 

Vega and Lozano continued to shoot, running behind defenders and even outside the box – all without success.

But while the Mexicans controlled the run of play, they’d be content with the draw after the saved penalty.

On Saturday, Mexico will face a wounded Argentina, while Poland will take on Saudi Arabia.

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