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Poland vs Saudi Arabia: Match report, player ratings, expert analysis, fan reaction and more

All the reaction from Group B as Saudi Arabia looked to continue their fine form


Poland blew Group C wide open as they overcame a tricky Saudi Arabia side 2-0 to move top of the Group ahead of Argentina’s clash with Mexico later today.

Saudi Arabia picked off where they left off against Argentina, getting the better of a feisty first half hour which was littered with yellow cards, and they threatened to get in behind the Polish defence time and time again.

But, five minutes before half time and very much against the run of play, Poland found the opening goal as they finally got in behind the Saudi Arabia defence, with Robert Lewandowski squaring the ball for Piotr Zielinski to fire into the roof of the net from six yards out.

Saudi Arabia were handed a massive chance to head into the break level just moments later when they were awarded a penalty following a VAR check, but Krystian Bielik’s blushes were spared as Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a magnificent double save to keep out the effort from Salem Al-Dawsari and preserve his side’s lead heading into half time.

The middle-eastern side continued to be the more threatening side but couldn’t find the final pass, while Poland were happy to sit back and hit on the counterattack as first Milik and then Lewandowski saw efforts hit the woodwork.

And after coming so close, Robert Lewandowski finally ended his World Cup goal drought courtesy of a terrible mistake from Saudi midfielder Al Malki, who took a heavy touch to allow the Barcelona striker to pounce and put the game to bed, handing his side a golden opportunity to make it out of the group stage in the process.

Player ratings

Poland

  • GK: Wojciech Szczesny (9) - Man of the match and produced two excellent saves to preserve his side’s 1 goal lead.
  • RWB: Matty Cash (5) - Booked early on and looked well beaten by his opposite number. Recovered well.
  • CB: Bartosz Bereszynski (6) - Struggled somewhat in the first half but was much more solid in the second.
  • CB: Kamil Glik (6) - Continues to defy his age with another strong performance in the heart of the Polish defence.
  • CB: Jakub Kiwior (5) - Booked early but was solid otherwise.
  • LWB: Przemysław Frankowski (5) - Found himself beaten far too easily in the first half and looks much more comfortable going forwards than towards his own goal.
  • CM: Krystian Bielek (4) Very lucky that a penalty was saved after he clumsily gave it away in the first half. Had very little impact on the game.
  • CM: Gregor Krychowiak (5) - Often looked overrun in midfield against the Saudi midfielders but got stuck in to good effect.
  • CAM: Piotr Zielinski (5) - Had a very quiet game on the wing, and couldn’t really have too much of an influence but he popped up with the key goal for his side.
  • ST: Arkadiusz Milik (6) - Hit the crossbar with a good effort and dovetailed well with Lewandowski.
  • ST: Robert Lewandowski (7) - His goal drought in the World Cup finally came to an end and he will feel he could have had a hat-trick on another day. He showed great awareness to reverse the ball to Zielinski for the opener.

Substitutes

  • Jakub Kaminski (7) - Hardly saw the ball but his mere presence running in behind offered Poland an out-ball and took plenty of pressure off his teammates.
  • Krystof Piatek (5) - Didn’t have an impact when coming on.

Saudi Arabia

  • GK: Mohammed Al Owais (8) - Was brilliant to ensure that Poland didn’t get in behind by acting as a sweeper keeper. Could do very little about either goal.
  • RB: Saud Abdulhamid (7) - Had the beating of Frankowski in the first half and was bizarrely swapped flanks at half time. Was far less effective.
  • CB: Aldulelah Al Amri (7) - Passed the ball well but was caught out of position for Poland’s first-half goal.
  • CB: Ali Al Bulayhi - (8)- Dealt with the Polish attacks well and was good at building up play against Poland’s tight defence.
  • LB: Mohamed Al Burayk - (6) - Quieter than Abdulhamid on the opposite flank but solid enough.
  • CM: Sami Al Naji (6) - Moved the ball well and rarely gave it away before he was forced off at half time.
  • CM: Abdulelah Al Malki (5) - Was having a good game until he handed Robert Lewandowski the ball on a plate to put the game to bed.
  • CM: Mohammed Kanno (7) - Continues to look very tidy on the ball and was excellent for the Saudi side.
  • RW: Saleh Al-Shehri (6) - Exciting without any real end product, like many of his teammates.
  • ST: Feras Al Brikan (5) - Couldn’t get into the game as he was well marshalled by the Polish defence.
  • LW: Salem Al-Dawsari (5) - Looked his side’s most dangerous player once again but missed a penalty that could have been vital for Saudi Arabia to get back into the game.

Substitutes

  • Nawaf Al Abid (6) - Solid enough in midfield but didn’t add much creativity.
  • Sultan Al Ghannam (5) - Could not change the game when he came on.
  • Nasser Al Dawsari (N/A) - Came on with five minutes to play.
  • AbdulRahman Al Obud (N/A) - Came on with five minutes to play.
  • Hattan Bhabri (N/A) - Came on in added time.

Key Stats

Expert Analysis

Fan reaction

Read more:

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.



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