Poland 1 Russia 1: Blaszczykowski blasts back to grab lifeline for co-hosts
20:52 GMT, 12 June 2012
Jakub Blaszczykowski's 58th-minute equaliser salvaged a crucial point for co-hosts Poland and scuppered Russia's hopes of becoming the first team to book their place in the Euro 2012 knockout stages.
Alan Dzagoev had fired the Russians in front in the 38th minute as they looked to build on their superb opening win over the Czech Republic by making mathematically certain of reaching the last eight.
Floored genius: Jakub Blaszczykowski is mobbed by team-mates and staff following his wonder strike
Poland: Tyton, Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch, Dudka, Polanski, Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak, Lewandowski. Subs not used: Sandomierski, Wojtkowiak, Kaminski, Matuszczyk, Rybus, Wawrzyniak, Sobiech, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Brozek.
Russia: Malafeev, Aniukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Shirokov, Denisov, Zyryanov, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin. Subs not used: Akinfeev, Sharonov, Izmailov, Pavlyuchenko, Kombarov, Kokorin,
Granat, Pogrebnyak, Nababkin, Glushakov, Semshov, Shunin.
Booked: Denisov, Dzagoev.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
But roared on by a predominantly Polish
crowd in Warsaw's National Stadium, the Poles boosted their own hopes of
progression from Group A when captain Blaszczykowski blazed his
leveller past Vyacheslav Malafeev from 20 yards.
It was a richly-deserved point for
the Poles, who were frustrated in their opening draw with Greece, but
set a stunning pace in the first period and repelled the majority of the
impressive Russian advances.
Franciszek Smuda's side almost
grabbed a seventh-minute lead when a glancing header from Sebastian
Boenisch was superbly saved by Russian keeper Malafeev, who was kept
busy throughout the night.
Boenisch rose highest again from the
resulting corner but this time could only direct his header into the
arms of a relieved Malafeev.
With the Russians struggling to make
any kind of impact, Poland continued to press and Robert Lewandowski
almost conjured an opener out of nothing when he hooked a volley just
over the bar in the 12th minute.
Poland had the ball in the net in the
19th minute when Lewandowski played in Eugen Polanski who drilled a low
shot beyond Malafeev but was correctly pulled up for straying offside.
Letting fly: Jakub Blaszczykowski unleashes an unstoppable drive, leaving Russia keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with no chance
Playing an exciting brand of fluent
passing football, the Poles were dominant and Russian defender Sergei
Ignashevich had to get in with a fine intervention to deny Lewandowski
another chance in the box.
Russia finally started to get to
grips with the game as it approached the half-hour mark, with first
Andrei Arshavin bursting down the right and crossing for Alexander
Kerzhakov, who headed high and wide.
The little man makes it count: Alan Dzagoev nods Andrey Arshavin's free-kick past Przemyslaw Tyton
And in the 28th minute the roles were
reversed as Kerzhakov turned provider from the right, sending in a low
cross which just eluded the stretching Arshavin in front of goal.
Russia's best spell of the match
resulted in the opening goal in the 38th minute as Arshavin delivered a
superb free-kick from the left flank and Dzagoev flashed home a header
past Przemyslaw Tyton.
Eyes on the ball: Robert Lewandowski attempts to clear a corner
Poland almost responded immediately,
with Blaszczykowski's powerful drive beaten away by Malafeev, but the
Russians were beginning to play with the same kind of confident swagger
evident in their opening group win.
But Russia ended the half well on
top, with Dzagoev and Zhirkov both having close-range chances and the
goalscorer unlucky not to earn a penalty in first-half injury-time after
being pushed over in the box.
Lying down on the job: Marcin Wasilewski takes advange of Aleksandr Kerzhakov's slip
Poland started the second half in the
same manner they approached the third, and came close within two
minutes of the restart when Polanski's brilliant through-ball found
Lewandowski but he was pushed wide and out of play by the advancing
It was all Poland again with Ludovic
Obraniak and Damien Perquis both coming close before the Russians
threatened with a swift counter in the 50th minute, Kerzhakov's
dangerous run eventually intercepted by Dariusz Dudka.
Going it alone: Robert Lewandowski takes on Vyacheslav Malafeev
Blaszczykowski sparked jubilation in
the 58th minute when he got on the end of a Polish breakaway down the
right and cut inside to sent a superb left-foot drive beyond Malafeev
and into the corner of the net.
As the game sprang into life, Dzagoev
scuffed a shot straight at Tyton after being flicked through by
Kerzhakov, and almost immediately at the other end Blaszczykowski made
ground down the left before blazing high and wide.
Hands up: Poland fans get behind their team
Spelling it out: Russian fans make their point