Argentina sealed qualification into the knockout stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win over Poland at Stadium 974 in their Group C meeting. La Albiceleste sealed the top spot in their group, and Poland finished in second place, going through only on goal difference.
Argentina needed to win against Poland to assure them of a place in the Round of 16 after their defeat to Saudi Arabia and subsequent win over Mexico. Manager Lionel Scaloni rang the changes as he switched things up against the Polish team.
Argentina dominated the match from the first whistle, with Poland looking like they set up to play a defensive game. The Copa America champions created several half-chances but failed to trouble the Polish backline as often as they wanted. Julian Alvarez, making his first start, was particularly lively as he stung the palms of Wojciech Szczesny in the first half.
Argentina received a contentious penalty as Lionel Messi collided with Szczesny as he went up to head the ball in the 39th minute. The Argentina captain stepped up but saw his penalty saved brilliantly by Szczesny. Poland held off the Argentine onslaught to go into half-time with parity intact.
Argentina took the lead within seconds of the restart through Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister. The midfielder got on the end of a cut-back from Nahuel Molina and applied a first-time finish that swerved away from Szczesny into the far post in the 46th minute.
Poland failed to create any threats throughout the encounter as they continued to sit very deep in their half. Argentina refused to relent and soon found a second goal.
An impressive passing sequence saw the Copa America champions pass the ball around the pitch before the ball landed at the feet of Enzo Fernandez, who scooped the ball into the path of Alvarez. The Manchester City man showed good composure to spin away from his marker before unleashing a rocket into the top corner from inside the box in the 68th minute.
Argentina had further chances to score, with both Lautaro Martinez and Nicolas Tagliafico missing good chances. Messi was also denied by Szczesny, who had a brilliant game between the sticks.
Argentina claimed a very comfortable 2-0 win over Poland to qualify for the Round of 16. They will face Australia in the first knockout round after the Socceroos also made it out of their group. Poland reached the Round of 16 despite their defeat, edging Mexico on goal difference.