The last games in Group C, involving Argentina, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Mexico will go down in World Cup history as one of the most exciting nights ever.
Poland lost to Argentina by a score of 2-0. This ensured that the South American team would finish first in Group C, leading to many different outcomes.
The same score was used when Mexico beat Saudi Arabia. That meant that Gerardo Martino’s team and Poland had the same number of points and goals scored and allowed.
Martino’s Mexico was in danger of going home because of Fifa’s fair play rule. They had seven yellow cards, while Poland only had five. If they went home, they would be the second team to do so after Senegal four years ago.
With seven minutes of extra time, a goal by Mexico would have given them the edge they needed to make it to the round of 16.
But Salem Al Dawsari’s late consolation goal ended any hopes of a remarkable comeback by Mexico, which had lost its first two games.
For the first time since 1978, Mexico didn’t make it past the world cup group stage. Before that, they had made it to the knockout stage eight times in a row. Poland will play France, on Sunday (15:00 GMT).
When the game at Stadium 974 ended with a score of 2-0, there were still more than two minutes left at Lusail Stadium. With one more goal, Mexico would have won.
The ‘crazy’ world cup game
Before the game, Saudi Arabian fans were all over the metro, tense about the game. Then, they went to the boulevard and the stadium, hoping to win and move on to the next round.
One local reporter said that about 150,000 fans came from across the border to watch the game. However, it was thought that over 60,000 people went to the game, which was a lot more than the Mexicans.
Saudi Arabia came in last place in the group with just one win, while Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Poland and loss to Lionel Scaloni’s team cost them.
Henry Martin’s close-range goal and Luis Chavez’s excellent free-kick got their few fans going, and the Mariachi band behind the goal tried to get the ball into the net once more.
When the final whistle blew, the Mexican players hugged each other because they knew their journey was over. But, at the same time, fans stayed in their seats long after the game ended, and some were shocked.
Poland’s tears of happiness
As soon as Alex Mac Allister put Argentina ahead early in the second half against Poland, they were in control. After that, there was never any question about who would win.
No one knew if Poland would make it, and the players on the field didn’t seem to care. They hung on and hoped not to lose by more than 2-0, which is what happened.
Even though the players may not have known what was happening, the small group of Poland fans certainly did.
Most of them spent more time looking at Mexico vs. Saudi Arabia on their phones than watching their own game.
When Mexico scored their second goal, many Poles put their heads in their hands. Then, when Argentina made it 2-0, which they should have, they knew they were only still in the tournament because of the yellow cards.
In extra time, Argentina was inches away from scoring and knocking Poland out, but the final whistle did not end Poland’s pain.
The players and staff got together, the fans were glued to their screens, and there was a cheer. Then, in the last minute of the game, Saudi Arabia scored against Mexico, and Poland is now safe based on goal difference instead of fair play.
Even if Mexico hadn’t scored, they would knock Poland out and suffer for a few more minutes. Instead, sad scenes filled the 974 stadia before the final whistle at Lusail.
Fans crying gave each other hugs, and some players ran joyfully. Some people fell to the ground, knowing they had been lucky.