Mexico drew 0-0 against Poland in their inaugural 2022 World Cup match, as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa heroically stopped a penalty by Robert Lewandowski to earn each side one point.
Though El Tri dominated on the attack in the first half, Poland came back stronger in the second 45 to pressure Mexico’s backline of Jorge Sanchez, Hector Moreno, Cesar Montes and Jesus Gallardo.
Mexico committed small fouls inside their own half consistently throughout the match, but it was ball by Jakub Kamiński to Lewandowski inside the box saw Moreno concede the penalty. The FC Barcelona figure stepped up, and attempted to find the lower right corner but Ochoa timed his dive perfectly. The Mexican goalkeeper has now saved 17 penalties in his career, four for Mexico.
“It is not for nothing that it is his fifth World Cup. He is a leader in the dressing room and we are all very happy with him,” said Charly Rodriguez after the game.
“He has saved our job on many occasions. Today 'Memo' deserves it, he is a goalkeeper who trains too much and today he showed himself,” added defender Jorge Sanchez.
Ochoa credited the save to Mexico’s goalkeeping coach Gustano Piñero after the match, adding it’s been a while since he saved a penalty.
“There was work behind that save. I work with Gustavo Piñero, we have been working on this for a long time. Life is so weird, it's been a while since I saved a penalty and it came to an end today, I'm very happy to stop it.”
Mexico is now tied with Poland for second place in the Group C standings, with Saudi Arabia as leaders after their shocking 2-1 triumph over Argentina. Though the draw was not enough to establish any sort of lead, Ochoa insists Mexico will use the result as motivation moving forward.
"We got one point, they are a rival with very good players, physically powerful, who have prestige and who play in the best leagues,” he said.
“Of course we wanted the three points, but we have to look at the positive side, today we add, we are there and they Complicated games are coming. There are always surprises and if we compete like this we will be close to winning.”
El Tri will now prepare to face Argentina on Saturday, November 26 before finishing the group stage against Saudi Arabia.