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Ochoa is football heritage! Winners, losers and ratings as World Cup icon stops Lewandowski to save Mexico against Poland

18:31 GMT 22/11/2022
Robert Lewandowski Guillermo Ochoa GFX
The iconic El Tri goalkeeper stepped up once again on the global stage to help his side earn a point from their opening game at Qatar 2022

In the end, it came down to one kick. The best striker in the tournament against possibly the best goalkeeper in World Cup history. And when that goalkeeper is the legendary Memo Ochoa there's only one way that's going to end, even if you are Robert Lewandowski.

Ochoa's heroic penalty save defined Mexico's 0-0 draw with Poland, a match that had plenty of passion in the stands but little energy on the field.

After seeing Argentina lose earlier on Tuesday, neither side were able to seize control of this game and, ultimately, this group.

There were few chances and even fewer goals, zero to be exact. In a way, it was mission accomplished for both sides as they avoided a defeat that would have likely ended their hopes.

But both teams will also look back and wonder what might have been...

  • Guillermo Ochoa Mexico 2022

    The Winners

    Guillermo Ochoa:

    Football heritage. Ochoa at the World Cup, is there anything like it? There have been better goalkeepers, plenty of them, but there may not be a better World Cup goalkeeper. Every four years, Ochoa emerges and, every four years, Ochoa does something unforgettable. This time around, it came at the expense of Lewandowski, who, in any other circumstances, probably would have scored. But this was Ochoa at a World Cup, where his superpowers activate. On this stage, in this tournament, the power of Ochoa is still very, very real. At age 37, this may be his last go around, having already solidified his place as a World Cup icon. But, when it comes to Ochoa in this tournament, how could you bet against him? He's seemingly destined to do this forever.

    Mexico fans:

    In a match played in a stadium made out of 974 shipping containers, it felt like each and every one of them contained a piece of the Azteca. Doha felt a lot more like Mexico City on Tuesday as the city was swarmed by El Tri supporters. It was like the whole city was painted green, white and red. Songs were sung loud and proud, sombreros were worn and Spanish quickly became the city's official language of the day. We knew Mexico fans would travel for a World Cup. They always do. But to see it all in full force halfway across the world once again was something magical. With seemingly millions of fans packed into the stadium, the national anthem was belted out with gusto. Alexis Vega and several of his team-mates were brought to tears, clearly overcome by the emotion of it all. It didn't stop there. The Ole's in the first half were loud as could be. And the release of sound when Ochoa saved that penalty? My goodness. Who knows how long El Tri's stay will be? We can't be sure they'll make it to thatmythical fifth game, 'El Quinto Partido', but we definitely have been reminded that Mexico fans will make sure that every second they're in Qatar is a memorable one.

    Argentina:

    This couldn't have gone better for Lionel Messi and co. Argentina were expected to cruise through this group, but that all went up in flames with their loss to Saudi Arabia. They now face an uphill climb, but that hill isn't as steep as it could have been. Neither Mexico nor Poland seized their chance to take control of this group, as both teams were seemingly more afraid to lose than motivated to win. Three points would have been enough for either team to be favorites for a knockout spot, while zero would have all-but ended their World Cup hopes. And, in the end, both Poland and Mexico played like teams that didn't believe it was worth the risk. Now, though, it will all come down to how they fare in the final two games. Argentina are still Argentina, despite the opening result, while Saudi Arabia may just be better than many gave them credit for. A win would have eased the pressure for either side. Now, both teams will feel lots of it in their final two matches.

  • Robert Lewandowski Poland 2022

    The Losers

    Robert Lewandowski:

    He wasn't LewanGOALski today. The Polish icon may be of the best players in this tournament, but he didn't look like it in the opener. Instead, he was unusually quiet, limited in ways that you don't often see. The missed penalty will serve as the highlight or, in this case, lowlight, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Even aside from that, he was entirely silent thanks to El Tri's swarming defense. For Poland to survive this group, Lewandowski will have to carry them. He couldn't do it against Mexico. He'll have two more chances against Argentina and Saudi Arabia. He'll need to be much, much better.

    Raul Jimenez:

    Speaking of talismanic strikers, Mexico's go-to No. 9 hasn't been fit for some time, forcing Jimenez to the bench to start this one. He did eventually come on, replacing Henry Martin as Mexico pushed for the goal they needed to steal the win. The goal never came as the Wolves star never looked quite right. He misplaced passes and stumbled over the ball, looking very much like a player that hasn't played much in months. It's unfortunate for Mexico, just as it would be for any other team to enter this tournament with their star goalscorer limited. Maybe he will improve as the tournament wears on, and he'll probably have to for Mexico to make much of an impact.

    Tata Martino:

    Entering the match, Tata Martino was under pressure due to his roster selection, particularly in attack. After a 0-0 draw, that deafening criticism will only somehow grow more deafening. Veterans like Carlos Vela and Chicharito Hernandez aren't here. Neither are Santi Gimenez or Diego Lainez, two players that could have probably helped in breaking down Poland's defense. And, as usual, the blame will fall on Martino, a manager that has already lost the faith of much of the Mexican public. This result won't help as, aside from Ochoa's save, Mexico didn't produce much to be excited about. Martino will probably be replaced after this tournament regardless of how it all goes, but this was a chance to at least lighten the mood and establish goodwill. It didn't happen.

  • Guillermo Ochoa Mexico 2022

    Mexico ratings: Defense

    Guillermo Ochoa (9/10):

    Another moment that will ensure he'll be remembered as a football hero.

    Jesus Gallardo (8/10):

    Spectacular game, especially in the opening half. Possibly Mexico's best field player.

    Hector Moreno (6/10):

    Brought down Lewa for the penalty, but was solid otherwise.

    Cesar Montes (8/10):

    Another strong performer in a Mexico defense that stepped up.

    Jorge Sanchez (6/10):

    Was a bit sloppy while on the ball and took a yellow card.

  • Hector Herrera Mexico 2022

    Midfield

    Hector Herrera (5/10):

    Was jeered by Mexico fans for a performance that wasn't quite at his usual standard.

    Edson Alvarez (7/10):

    The tempo creator, was solid enough in the middle of the field.

    Luis Chavez (7/10):

    For a player with so little experience, a very good performance.

  • Hirving Lozano Mexico 2022

    Attack

    Hirving Lozano (6/10):

    A good performance that just lacked the final touch, even if he was dangerous throughout.

    Henry Martin (5/10):

    Brought into replace Jimenez, but wasn't really able to add much.

    Alexis Vega (7/10):

    Mexico's best attacker, and he gets bonus points for the emotion he showed during the anthem.

  • Tata Martino Mexico 2022

    Subs & Manager

    Carlos Rodriguez (6/10):

    Replaced Herrera, but didn't fare much better

    Raul Jimenez (5/10):

    Looked a shell of himself. Will need to be better if Mexico are to have a chance.

    Uriel Antuna (N/A):

    Given just seven minutes to push for a winner

    Tata Martino (5/10):

    Didn't get it wrong but definitely didn't get it right and, for Mexico, that won't be enough.