It was an odd and unprecedented scene. After a 2-0 victory over Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday, Argentina and its prime star, Lionel Messi, celebrated having received Group C and advancing to the knockout stage. But Poland had been additionally exalting following their loss. Many of their gamers huddled on the sphere round a cellphone, after which cheered and hugged as nicely, an odd response following a defeat.
A 30-minute drive away at Lusail Stadium, within the night time’s different Group C recreation, Mexico had been main Saudi Arabia, 2-0, with a handful of minutes nonetheless remaining in additional time. If that rating held, Mexico would end with 4 factors, the identical as Poland. But Mexico’s streak of advancing to the knockout stage in seven straight World Cups would finish by advantage of shedding the sixth — sure, the sixth — tiebreaker between them and Poland: every crew’s quantity of yellow and purple playing cards.
But when Salem al-Dawsari scored within the fifth minute of added time — and with three minutes remaining within the recreation — the distinction in yellow playing cards between Mexico and Poland turned moot. Suddenly, Mexico had a worse objective differential than Poland and thus had been shedding the primary tiebreaker.
Watching on the display screen, Poland’s gamers rejoiced. Then moments later, after the ultimate whistle in Mexico’s 2-1 win, they celebrated their nation’s first journey to the knockout stage since 1986.
“Sometimes defeats are bittersweet, or sweet and bitter,” Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz stated by way of an interpreter. “But we went through, after many, many years.”