Poland striker Robert Lewandowski’s penalty was saved in a 0-0 draw against Mexico on Tuesday.
Lewandowski has never scored at a World Cup, and the Barcelona striker confessed it would be a “big dream” to break through on the world stage.
Instead, the 34-year-fantasy old’s turned into a nightmare when he won a penalty in the second half, only for goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to save his feeble shot.
“I didn’t score, and that hurts,” he was reported as saying in Polish media. You can’t explain it; it’s a penalty or a lottery.”
Lewandowski, Poland’s all-time leading scorer with 76 goals, has scored 18 times in 19 games for Barcelona, which he joined in the offseason following 344 goals in eight trophy-filled years at Bayern Munich.
However, Lewandowski’s World Cup record has been bleak, with this latest goalless campaign after his failure to score in Poland’s three group stage games four years ago.
Saudi Arabia’s dramatic 2-1 win against Argentina earlier in the day had blasted open the fight to advance from Group C to the last 16.
But it was a disappointing stalemate for both teams, with Lewandowski squandering the greatest chance of a tight game and Mexico lamenting their inability to convert territorial domination into goals.
He will provide the finest response. “He trained yesterday and never missed a penalty,” Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz remarked.
“Other great players have failed to convert penalties.” It’s a shame. I know how much he wanted to score a World Cup goal.
With Poland oddly happy to sit back for lengthy stretches and Mexico’s energy levels almost matching their loud fans, Gerardo Martino’s side posed the larger threat.
Alexis Vega headed Hector Herrera’s cross inches beyond the far post.
Mexico responded with another incisive play that resulted in Wojciech Szczesny palming away Jesus Gallardo’s shot.
Because of Poland’s cautious tactics, Lewandowski only had one touch in the Mexico area and completed three passes in the first half.
But Lewandowski’s World Cup nightmare didn’t end there, as Ochoa, 37, dived to his left to make a fantastic save, leaving the striker shaking his head in disgust. It was Lewandowski’s second penalty miss in a row, following his failure to score for Barcelona against Almeria earlier this month.
Szczesny saved Henry Martin’s looping header as Mexico sought in vain to make the most of their escape.
“We should have won, but we needed to be more accurate,” coach Martino stated.