Alexis Mac Allister of Argentina, overjoyed at scoring his first World Cup goal, said that by winning their group stage match and moving on to the next round, they had put the agony of their initial loss to Saudi Arabia behind them.
A goal each from Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez sent Argentina at the top of the Group C table and into the round of 16 as they outperformed Poland in every department to win 2-0 in their final group stage match at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.
With this victory, Argentina finish their group-stage campaign with six points and two wins and a loss.
"We wanted to compensate for that defeat [against Saudi Arabia]. In the second group game, we found the calm we needed. Today, it was a great team game, the best of the group, it gives us great confidence to have played well. We were always positive, we were calm. Leo's penalty didn't get us down, neither the team nor Leo," Skysports quoted Alexis Mac Allister as saying.
Allister described his goalscoring performance, as Argentina sealed their spot in the Round of 16, as a "dream come true" after the match.
"It's so emotional for me [to score], and for the whole squad. We achieved the first goal, of coming top in the first round. It's a dream come true. Debuting with this team was such a pride for me, so imagine scoring a goal in a World Cup. I'm so happy, now we just have to rest and prepare for the next match," he added.
"Maybe we didn't play that well against Saudi Arabia but we had the chances to win. We ended up losing, so all matches are tough and if you think that the match against Australia is going to be easy you are wrong. When you are defeated you have to move on, you can't keep thinking about that defeat - we had two more games to play and we have gone through now. We knew we had to win the remaining games," Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni added.
Coming to the match, starting off the match in an all-blue jersey, Argentina earned their first corner of the match. But it was guarded well by the Polish defence.
Robert Lewandowski got in a decent cross from the right and Krystian Bielik's shot from the edge of the box got blocked. Even Messi made a couple of attempts at the goal in the opening 10 minutes but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made saves both times.
Argentina was extremely aggressive in their pursuit of an opening goal and kept making chances for themselves in the first 20 minutes. They also enjoyed a great deal of ball possession. Poland were trying their level best to attack but every attempt of theirs was thwarted by Argentinians.
Marcos Acuna and Messi were the stars for Argentina in the first 30 minutes of the match with their aggressive gameplay. In the 32nd minute, Angel Di Maria tried to hit Poland with a curling corner but the goalkeeper managed to avert the danger with one hand.
In the 35th minute, Messi responded to Julian Alvarez's cross well but his header missed the goal. Argentina was awarded a penalty after a VAR review caught minimal contact between him and another player.
Messi could not convert the penalty into a goal and the goalkeeper made his second save of the tournament, a brilliant one-handed save this time around.
Three minutes were added to the first half. The first half was goalless but featured heavily aggressive gameplay from Argentina, some brilliant defending from Poland.
Barely a minute into the second half, Brighton Mac Allister scored his first international goal and it was indeed the best time to bring it. This goal gave Argentina 1-0 lead in a match highly crucial for their round of 16 chances. Molina sent Mac Allister a cross and all the goalkeeper could do was stretch out his hand while the ball went past him.
In the next 15 minutes, Argentina made some more chances for themselves. Messi almost got his side their second but the Polish defence resisted his attack well and he failed to shoot. In the 60th minute, Mac Allister was denied his second goal and Szczesny blocked the ball easily.
In the 67th minute, Alvarez doubled Argentina's lead, scoring his first-ever goal in a World Cup.
Fernandez slotted the ball into Alvarez's feet and the striker powered the ball into the back of the net, putting on an exhibition of his strong finishing skills.
Poland struggled to get the ball to their feet, let alone attack. Argentinians kept passing the ball among themselves and tried making some chances for themselves. But Messi and Alvarez missed their attempts at goal.
Six minutes of additional time was added after ninety minutes. Argentinians tried to make some chances to disturb their opponents' goal difference. At the end of additional six minutes, the scoreline read 2-0 in favour of Argentina. (ANI)