Tue. Feb 7th, 2023
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Polish goalie Wojciech Szczęsny made the most casual gesture before saving a key Lionel Messi PK

Heading into the final day of their group stage, Poland and Robert Lewandowski were simply hoping to preserve their place in the knockout stages. But after Argentina and Lionel Messi decided to absolutely shell the Poles, Lewandowski and Co.’s chances of living to fight another day seemed bleak. Argentina leveled Poland with 23 shots (13 on goal!) throughout their matchup while enjoying 74 percent (!) possession.

Naturally, with such output, two goals in a 2-0 Argentinian victory were inevitable. Even still, the margin kept Poland’s place in the Round of 16 — albeit on a very slim basis.

With what happened between Mexico and Saudi Arabia on the other side of Group C — especially concerning goal differential — if Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny doesn’t make an incredible save on a late first-half Messi penalty kick, the biało-czerwoni” probably wouldn’t have advanced. 

It was indeed a heroic play in a heroic individual performance:

MESSI’S PENALTY IS SAVED BY SZCZESNY pic.twitter.com/nfEN63uaqv

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 30, 2022

Holy cow. You rarely see the arguably best player of all time stopped in such a spot. But Szczęsny — who stood on his head in an immaculate nine-save first half — didn’t seem worried about keeping Messi from scoring. In fact, he appeared to know he’d keep the legendary No. 10 off the board — judging by a casual gesture right before the kick:

Szczęsny knew he was going to make that save pic.twitter.com/yLMxk807SN

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 30, 2022

Incredible. It should be impossible to be that cool in that clutch of a moment.

Szczęsny now leads all goalies at the 2022 World Cup with 18 saves. His two penalty kick saves (he made another against Saudi Arabia) are the most in any World Cup since the United States Brad Friedel did it in 2022. As Poland moves on to the Round of 16, they can thank their man between the posts, who is having himself quite the tournament so far.

They’ll face impossible odds to upset defending champion France, but anything can happen when you have a locked-in goalie like Szczęsny.

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