A 95th-minute goal from Saudi Arabia ended Mexico's hopes of advancing to the last 16 of the World Cup, in a dramatic topsy-turvy ending that saw Poland secure second spot in Group C.
With all four countries still able to qualify for the knockout round after the opening two fixtures, Argentina's crunch clash against Group C leaders Poland was decided by second-half goals from Premier League stars Alexis Mac Allister, who netted his first goal at international level, and Julian Alvarez after star man Lionel Messi saw a controversial penalty expertly saved by Wojciech Szczesny.
The 2-0 defeat meant Poland were left relying on Mexico to claim a result against Saudi Arabia, though the North Americans would qualify themselves if they overturned a four-goal deficit to better Poland's goal difference.
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As the full-time whistle blew at Stadium 974, named after the 974 recycled shipping containers the temporary venue is made from, Mexico also held a two-goal lead over Saudi Arabia.
And with goal difference now level, the team advancing to the round of 16 would have been decided via a tertiary ruling, after goal difference and head-to-head record, had Saudi Arabia not found the back of the net in the game's dying embers.
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Mexico and Poland played out a drab 0-0 contest in both sides' opening Group C contest, meaning neither team could advance via head-to-head.
Instead, FIFA's fair play ruling would have dictated whether Mexico or Poland would face reigning champions France, based on the number of yellow cards collected so far in Qatar.
Poland, having been shown just four bookings in the Middle East, boasted a slightly superior record over Mexico, who have received six yellow cards including Wednesday evening's encounter, and so Gerardo Martino's needed to score one more against Saudi Arabia in stoppage time.
And while there was another to be had in the game at Lusail Iconic Stadium, a second of the tournament for Saudi Arabia's Salem Al Dawsari broke Mexican hearts with El Tri failing to reach the knockout rounds for the first time since 1990.
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