When Lionel Messi twisted and spun on the ground to claim a penalty after Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s hand grazed his face while saving a shot, the referee would rush to consult the VAR screen. In the middle, Szczesny would have a bet with Messi that it won’t be a penalty.
“I told would bet him €100 that he [referee] wasn’t going to give it,” Szczesny told TV2. “So I’ve lost a bet against Messi.” The Dutch referee Danny Makkelie would award a penalty.
“I don’t know if that’s allowed at the World Cup — I’m probably going to get banned for it! But I don’t care right now,” said Szczesny, who would save that penalty, diving to his left, and punching the ball with his raise right first.
Will he pay Messi 100 Euros though? “I’m not going to pay him either — he doesn’t care about €100 I think he has enough.”
It was his second penalty save of the tournament. “I was fortunate twice this competition,” he told RAI Sport. “It’s a great moment in the career of a player, the World Cup is the maximum and this is special. There’s a bit of work that goes into it, too, but in order to save a Messi penalty, you need some luck as well.”
It was around the 36th minute mark in the game. The Polish goalie had punched a shot from Julian Alvarez and when he backtracked to pouch the rebound shot, his hand would brush Messi’s face.
“The penalty decision is disgraceful,” the England defender Rio Ferdinand lashed out on BBC. “This isn’t what VAR has been brought in for. He’s flicked his eyelash for starters and the fact that the ref goes over to look at it… I think that’s an outrageous decision that has been made here. He barely touches him.”
Fellow commentator Alan Shearer too agreed: “That’s never a penalty.”