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Saudis lose second World Cup game after stunning initial win over Argentina

But Poland scrambles for long periods as Saudi team pushed forward by enthusiastic fans

Saudi Arabia's Salem Al-Dawsari holds his head after missing a chance to score during the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Saudi Arabia's Salem Al-Dawsari holds his head after missing a chance to score during the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in a World Cup match on Saturday after Robert Lewandowski finally scored a goal in the tournament, boosting his team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages.

The defeat dealt a blow to Saudi Arabia, which on Tuesday made history when it beat Argentina 2-1, in one of the biggest World Cup upsets ever against the South American champion and a tournament favorite.

The Saudis’ previous biggest win was 1-0 over Belgium at the 1994 World Cup.

The 40th minute of the match saw Lewandowski keep the ball in play after goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais’s initial block and then lay it back for Piotr Zielinski to knock in.

Saudi Arabia had a chance to equalize at the end of the first half but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Salem Al-Dawsari’s penalty kick. He then blocked Mohammed Al-Burayk’s shot from the rebound.

Poland was scrambling for long periods at the Education City Stadium as the Saudi team was pushed forward by enthusiastic fans in what seemed like a home game.

After finally scoring in the 82nd minute, Lewandowski shed tears. He raced toward the corner with his arms outstretched, then stayed slumped on the field as teammates rushed to congratulate him. He got up, rubbed his face, and blew a kiss to the crowd.

Lewandowski, who had no involvement in any goals in his first four World Cup games, also hit the post, and Al-Owais later denied the Barcelona player from scoring another goal toward the end of the match.

Saudi Arabia players applaud fans at the end of the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“Today everything I had inside, the dreams, the importance of the occasion, all those dreams from my childhood came through,” Lewandowski said. “It was so significant.”

One of the best forwards in the world, Lewandowski’s barren streak at the World Cup was somewhat puzzling. Now, in his fifth match at the tournament, it’s over.

“I always wanted to score at the World Cup and this dream came true,” said Lewandowski, who had a penalty saved in Poland’s 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday. “It’s not easy, because we didn’t have many opportunities in the first match and I missed that penalty.”

Poland’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his side’s 2nd goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Poland and Saudi Arabia, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Poland will next face Argentina, while Saudi Arabia will meet Mexico in their last Group C games.

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