Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Lopapa On June - 13 - 2012

Poles Snatch Draw Against Old Rivals Russia

The match itself was very nearly overshadowed by skirmishes between Polish and Russian hooligans before kick-off, however, an exciting 1-1 draw more than made up for the ugliness off the field. It was evenly poised throughout, with both sides going after one another; Russia would attack, and Poland would counter.

Poland started out brightly, creating several decent chances, including an Eugen Polanski goal that was ruled out for offside. Defender Sebastian Boenisch also nearly scored, but saw his header come off the shin of Vyacheslav Malafeev inside the six yard box. Russia also had their chances, and drew first blood in the 37th minute. Poland defender Marcin Wasilewski clumsily fouled Yuri Zhirkov on the Russian left. Arshavin took the free kick, and thanks to some slack Polish defending, found Alan Dzagoev, who capped his excellent run with a glancing header into the far corner.  The Poles had one more chance before the break, as captain Jakub Blaszczykowski’s right-footed shot was saved by Malafeev.

As the second half progressed, both sides opened up more, but neither side could break through. Then, the equalizer came. On yet another Polish counter, the Borussia Dortmund duo of Lukasz Piszczek and Blaszczykowski struck. Piszczek, running down the right, sent a through ball into the path of the Polish captain, who cut inside with his first touch. ‘Kuba’ then unleashed a wonderful curling left-footed shot into the far post beyond the reach of Malafeev. Russia very nearly got the winner, as some neat play allowed Dzagoev to squeeze a shot in, only for stand in ‘keeper Przemyslaw Tyton to get down and make the save. Poland responded as Malafeev came to the rescue again for Russia, stopping a close range Polanski strike. The Poles again had a chance to net the winner at the death, however it wasn’t meant to be as the match finished level.

Despite only having 40% of the possession in the match, Poland actually out-shot Russia 16-11, and had more of their efforts on target as well, with their six to Russia’s paltry two, those being Dzagoev’s goal and the same player’s late effort snuffed out by Tyton. What’s of concern for Poland is that their central defensive pairing has looked a bit shaky in the first two matches, but did show some improvement in this match. However, the defensive marking on Russia’s goal was abject as the Russian players broke in on goal as the Poles didn’t really track the runs.

Poland’s defensive midfield duo of Dariusz Dudka and Eugen Polanski did a more than capable job in handling Russia’s attack. Polanski was particularly impressive in joining the attack as well, and would have gotten on the scoresheet had his goal not been ruled out for offside. Robert Lewandowski had a quiet night by his standards, often left alone up top without too much support. Nevertheless, he worked hard, was good in the build up play with his midfielders, and nearly scored on a volley early in the match.

Overall it was a fair result for both sides, although either team could have gotten the winner. Russia still top the group with four points, and are all but guaranteed qualification for the knockout round. A win against Greece will cement their place at the top of the group, avoiding the prospect of playing Germany in the quarterfinals. Poland meanwhile must beat the Czech Republic in order to advance. The Czechs have the upper hand on Poland as they defeated Greece 2-1 in the earlier game.

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