Robert Lewandowski scored at a World Cup for the first time as Poland defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0 to keep its qualification hopes alive in Qatar.
Striker Lewandowski, already Poland’s leading goal scorer and the third-highest scorer in Champions League history, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, did not play at the 2014 World Cup after Poland failed to qualify, did not score at the 2018 tournament, and had a tame penalty attempt saved on Tuesday against Mexico.
Overcome by emotion, he slid across the pitch in celebration where his teammates jumped on top of him as he buried his face in the turf.
It doubled Poland’s lead late in the game, sealing an important victory over the Green Falcons who were flying high after defeating Argentina on Tuesday.
Poland’s first goal came against the run of play in the first half when Lewandowski took a shot, missed but kept the ball in play and passed to his teammate Piotr Zielinski, who made no mistake with the finish.
Just before half-time, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) awarded Saudi Arabia a penalty but Salem Al-Dawsari’s Initial spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, as was the follow-up attempt.
Saudi Arabia missed several opportunities to equalize in the second half, before Lewandowski sealed Poland’s win.
A brilliant header from Mitch Duke in the first half proved the difference between the two sides, as Tunisia spurned chance after chance and could not find a way past the stubborn Australian defense.
For both teams, seeking to reach the knockout stages from a group containing heavyweights France and Denmark, this was a must-win game.
The Eagles of Carthage kicked off with the wind at their backs, having secured a 0-0 draw against Denmark in their opening match, while Australia had succumbed 4-1 to defending champion France and needed a win to keep them in the hunt for qualifying.
Australia began the stronger of the two teams, pinning Tunisia in its own half during the opening skirmishes and the Socceroos took the early lead with an end-to-end goal.
They worked the ball up field, with Craig Goodwin finding space down the left wing and firing a cross into the box which, despite a deflection, found Duke who leaped into the air to rocket the ball into the goal with a glancing header.
Mobbed by teammates, Duke made a ‘J’ with his hands, a message to his young son Jaxson watching in the stands who responded in kind and with a thumbs-up.
Tunisia had chances to equalize before half-time as Mohamed Drager lined up a shot on goal but Harry Souttar swept the ball away and out of danger, before Youssef Msakni put the ball wide with the goal open in front of him.
The Eagles of Carthage kept pressing after the break but, despite engineering multiple attempts on goal, they could not unlock Australia’s defense.
With five minutes of regular time left, suddenly the game opened up and Tunisia poured forward on the counterattack.
Once again, it was Souttar who came to Australia’s rescue, defending his side’s slender lead and Australia held on for a historic victory.