Even in defeat to Poland, Saudi Arabia prove their upset of Argentina at FIFA World Cup was no fluke

Salem Al-Dawsari's missed a crucial penalty in Saudi Arabia's 2-0 loss to Poland in the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Saturday, although the Green Falcons again gave a creditable account of themselves. Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

AL RAYYAN, Qatar -- After the euphoric high often comes the inevitable fall. And so proved the case for Saudi Arabia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Four days after a quite remarkable win over Argentina, the Green Falcons failed to repeat the feat as they fell to a 2-0 loss to Poland that leaves things evenly poised in Group C ahead of the final round of matches on Wednesday.

The Saudi Arabians will now need to get a result against Mexico in order to qualify for the Round of 16. It will not be an easy task but there were never going to be any from the moment Saudi Arabia discovered their Group C fate.

Three points from the first two games is far from the worst haul.

And more importantly, despite losing to Poland, the result will have done nothing to dissuade Saudi Arabia that they can dream of sealing a knockout round berth against the Mexicans.

First of all, while statistics do not always tell the whole story, it is remarkable that Saudi Arabia enjoyed 64% possession against an opposition side sitting 25 places above them in the world rankings, having mustered 16 shots on goal to the Poles' nine.

It was not just aimless possession either with the Green Falcons looking to carve out openings every time they had the ball, even if they found Poland far tougher to break down than Argentina on Tuesday.

Piotr Zielinski's 39th-minute opener had come against the run of play after Saudi Arabia looked the likelier of the two teams to open the scoring, and the Asian hopefuls than spurned an excellent chance to equalise when Salem Al-Dawsari had a penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny on the stroke of halftime -- although justice was arguably served given the award of the spot-kick had been dubious in itself.

Saudi Arabia continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides in the second half but Szczesny was once again alert to thwart Al-Dawsari from close range, before a brilliantly-worked move on the edge of the box in the 60th minute led to Firas Al-Buraikan blazing over wildy from a decent position.

Still, Poland did have chances of their own and were unlucky not to edge further ahead when both Arkadiusz Milik and Robert Lewandowski were denied by the woodwork.

In the end, it proved to be one of those days where nothing would go right for Saudi Arabia despite their best efforts, as a costly poor touch by the otherwise excellent Abdullelah Al-Malki on the edge of his own box allowed Lewandowski -- who had largely been well nullified throughout the game -- to pounce and score his first World Cup goal.

It would not be right to say that Saudi Arabia deserved to win given they failed to take their chances when Poland did, but they can heart from the fact that they did not exactly deserve to lose against strong opposition.

The result may not have been similar to their stunning upset of Argentina but the performance against the Poles was close to it.

It proved that Saudi Arabia were able to maintain their level of motivation and prevent complacency from creeping in.

In what will be yet another tough test against Mexico, this should at least give them a good chance of reaching the Round of 16 at the World Cup for only the second time after they did so on debut in 1994.