Saturday, March 2, 2024

Mexico and Poland tie 0-0 in opening World Cup encounter in Qatar

Mexico and Poland played out a scoreless tie in their opening FIFA World Cup soccer match in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday after Mexican goalkeeper and captain Guillermo Ochoa saved a penalty kick early in the second half.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski came down in the penalty area in the 54th minute of the encounter at Doha’s Stadium 974, prompting Australian referee Chris Beath to award Poland a penalty kick after consulting with the video assistant referee. Replays showed that Mexican defender Héctor Moreno was tugging at the Pole’s shirt when he fell just outside the six-yard box.

Lewandowski – Poland’s all-time top goal scorer – stepped up to the penalty spot and drilled a low shot at the goal’s right corner. But he couldn’t get past the defenses of the 37-year-old Ochoa, who dived to his left to make a memorable save. According to FIFA, it was the first time in World Cup history since 1930 that a Mexican goalkeeper had made a penalty save, excluding shootouts.

Mexico came close to taking the lead in the 64th minute when forward Henry Martín headed an elevated through ball toward the goal, but Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was able to deflect the ball away.

Young Mexican fans watching Tuesday’s Mexico-Poland game react with excitement at the moment that El Tri’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa blocked Robert Lewandowski’s penalty kick in the second half.


El Tri, as Mexico’s national team is affectionately known, had a total of 14 shots at goal, four of which were on target, according to the official match statistics. Based on those statistics, Mexico was the superior team, as Poland only had two on-goal shots out of nine attempts, but games aren’t won on stats, and the scoreline ultimately showed that nothing could separate the two sides.

Both teams take one point from the fixture and now sit behind Saudi Arabia in Group C after the Middle East Kingdom upset Argentina 2-1 earlier on Tuesday.

Mexico’s next match is against Argentina and the might of its star player Lionel Messi this Saturday at 1 p.m. Central Time.

Some 60,000 Mexicans were expected to travel to Qatar to watch El Tri, and the Gerardo Martino-coached team had strong support in Stadium 974 on Tuesday.

The man of the hour: Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.


Among the millions of Mexicans watching on from afar were thousands who packed into the FIFA fan fest at Plaza de la República, the square surrounding the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City. Footage posted to social media showed the fans nervously watching on as Poland prepared to take its penalty kick, and then breaking into wild celebrations when Ochoa saved the ball – and Mexico’s first match day at this 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, the first to be held in the Arab World.

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