Lionel Messi has made some unwanted history after becoming the first person ever to miss two penalties in World Cup tournaments in a thrilling 2-0 win over Poland. Argentina needed a win against Poland in the final group stages to secure their passage to the knockout stages in Qatar.
'CAN'T BELIEVE IT': Wild scenes after Socceroos advance at World Cup
'MAKES ME SQUIRM': Aussie legends under fire after Socceroos win
The atmosphere was electric at Stadium 974 as Argentina fans roared on their team in the must-win game. And in a moment of confusion, Argentina were awarded a penalty in the 36th minute.
Messi went up for a cross as Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny flapped at the ball. Both players missed it, but Szczęsny made slight contact with Messi's face and the Argentinian forward went down.
And in a controversial moment, the referee reviewed the contact in a VAR check and awarded the penalty. Poland players were in utter disbelief as Messi lined-up to put Argentina ahead.
— Cricket Master (@Master__Cricket) November 30, 2022
The noise was deafening in the arena, but Szczęsny picked the right side and saved the lacklustre effort. Messi looked down in despair as the huge contingent of Argentinian fans were stunned.
And while many consider Messi the greatest ever player to kick a ball, the Argentinian will go down as the first player ever to miss two penalties across multiple tournaments at the World Cup. On the other hand, Szczęsny has now saved two penalties at the Qatar World Cup and joins American Brad Friedel (2002) as the only goalkeepers to make two saves in a single tournament.
Lionel Messi is the first player in HISTORY to have 2 penalties saved in the World Cup 😱 pic.twitter.com/LcdbaVtco7
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 30, 2022
VAR in spotlight after Lionel Messi penalty
While a lot of the attention was on the penalty saved, many were also left fuming that the penalty was awarded in the first place.
Former England defender Jamie Carragher was critical of the decision and slammed the officiating for the outcome.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) November 30, 2022
I don't want anyone to complain to me about Premier League VAR ever again. 🤣
— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) November 30, 2022
I'm the biggest Messi fan around but genuinely celebrated the save there. Disgrace to give that as a penalty in the first place.
— Umir (@umirf1) November 30, 2022
So once you touch Messi or Ronaldo it’s a penalty? Jokes!
— Daniel Koranteng (@Dani77k) November 30, 2022
Fortunately for Argentina, they bounced back and dominated Poland after securing a 2-0 win and advancing as group C winners.
Goals from Enzo Fernandez and young star Julian Alvarez sent the stadium into raptures.
In more high drama, Poland held on to top spot after Mexico secured a thrilling 2-1 over Saudi Arabia in the other Group C match.
This means Argentina will now take on Australia in the round of 16.
The Socceroos advanced as runners-up in Group D after a historic 1-0 victory over Denmark to finish level on points with France.
Tunisia defeated a weakened France outfit in the other group match after an enthralling and heartbreaking 1-0 win.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.