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More World Cup pain for ’emotional’ Lewandowski

More World Cup pain for ’emotional’ Lewandowski

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Robert Lewandowski was hurting after the 2018 World Cup – and still is.

But his “dream” of netting in a World Cup is yet to come true after his penalty was saved in their 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday.

Is it a curse? Some might say so.

“I told him that I sympathise with him,” said Poland boss Czeslaw Michniewicz afterwards.

“I know how a captain that misses a penalty feels when the match does not end in victory. He was very emotional about it.”

‘The stage was made for a player like him’

Robert Lewandowski

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand had told BBC One “the stage was made for a player like him” to score at a World Cup before kick-off.

Starved of chances and service, the Barcelona striker won a penalty after having his shirt pulled and it seemed like his golden moment.

The Mexico fans, who had hugely outnumbered the Polish and taunted him from the first minute with boos and jeers, made Stadium 974 even more uncomfortable as he prepared to take the spot-kick.

Lewandowski, 34, has won almost everything in his club career including the Champions League and 10 Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

He is a big player who delivers in big moments, but even he was put off by the intimidating atmosphere in Qatar as his tame spot-kick was saved by Guillermo Ochoa.

“Yesterday in training, where there were no journalists there, he trained penalties and never missed. Such things happen, great players miss penalties,” said Michniewicz.

“Zico, Socrates, Platini, Maradona, many others – it is football. It is a pity, I know how much he wanted to score at a World Cup and I hope the following opportunities will lead to a goal.”

As the majority of the stadium erupted in jubilant celebration, Lewandowski stood in the box with his head in his hands, with a cluster of Poland fans to his right reacting the same way.

“I didn’t have any chances and that still hurts,” Lewandowski said earlier this week as he reflected on 2018.

“That was a failure. To score at a World Cup is a huge dream and I’m going to do everything to make this dream happen.”

Will he get another chance?

Robert Lewandowski missing his penalty against Mexico

The Barcelona striker has scored 76 goals in 137 appearances for Poland. He has netted 636 goals in total for club and country.

He contributed to 13 goals in 2022 World Cup qualification, including nine goals and four assists – twice as many as any of his team-mates.

But Poland do not have a good record at World Cups, and chances may be few and far between for their star striker.

Poland’s last goal from open play at the tournament was 20 years ago, and Lewandowski did not look like changing that statistic on Tuesday.

Against Mexico, Lewandowski touched the ball just three times in the box and had one shot on target – his saved penalty. Of his 42 touches, only 12 were in the final third.

“It must be frustrating for Lewandowski. This doesn’t happen to him at club level,” said Ferdinand.

“He’s used to getting more touches of the ball. He’s been starved of the ball and he’s having to feed off scraps.”

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on BBC One added: “I’m sure if Lewandowski gets another chance, he’ll take it. I’m just not sure he’ll get another chance.”

With Lionel Messi’s Argentina still to come in Group C and a Saudi Arabia side who shocked the South Americans with a 2-1 win earlier on Tuesday, Lewandowski could be made to work for his dream of scoring in a World Cup.

He looked a disheartened figure as he trudged down the tunnel after quickly applauding the fans following the goalless draw with Mexico.

“I will not tell him what he has and does not have to do. As a team and squad we will help him, and he will help us a lot in this tournament,” added Michniewicz.

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