Saturday, 4 September 2010

Poland 1-1 Ukraine

Poland will be a little disappointed that they didn't secure a comfortable win when they had the chance this afternoon and instead walk away from Łódź with only a 1-1 draw. However, considering they have lost their last two games 6-0 and 3-0, coach Franciszek Smuda will be glad to get that monkey off his back.

The two teams who will host EURO 2012 ironically played this game in a stadium that will not be used for the tournament but it was nice to see Lech Wałęsa in the crowd before the game as Poland recently celebrated 30 years of Solidarity.

The Poles started the game as the brighter of the two sides and already created a half chance after only four minutes. They showed a good team game in this 4-3-2-1, a formation which allowed them to create a lot of options for any player in possession. It was a bit of an end to end game and this developed throughout but Ukraine had their first real chance after 11 minutes but a shot was deflected wide after some fantastic wing play. Six minutes later they had a chance again when Aliev put a shot narrowly wide from all of 35 yards.

There continued to be intermittent chances for both sides with Davic for Ukraine and, in particular, Jelen for Poland spurning good chances to score the opener. In the end we only got the first goal after 41 minutes. The Ukrainian frontline nearly found a way past Boruc but an incisive counter-attack down the right hand side of the pitch allowed Jelen to face Pyatov one-one-one. The Auxerre striker made no mistake as he nipped past the keeper and slotted home for a deserved lead at half-time.

The goal shortly before half-time clearly affected the Ukrainians as it was the Polish side that had all the chances in the opening stages of the second half. Jelen, Murawski and Lewandowski all had decent chances to create a cushion for the lead. As the half wore on Ukraine looked less likely to concede and then in the 83rd minute scored, only for the goal to be disallowed for a dubious offside. This proved to be a sign of things to come though as in the 92nd minute, Ukraine substitute, Seleznyov, was played through and easily put the ball past Boruc for a late equaliser.

The scoreline hides many deficiencies of the Ukrainian game who really didn't deserve the draw and instead capitalised on Poland's failure to convert chances. Smuda will, on the other hand, be pleased with his sides performance but will have to reconsider Jelen as a lone frontman. His record in the white and red is not great anyway and Poland are not short of alternatives with Smolarek and Lewandowski both being strikers of a good pedigree.

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