Slovakia stunned 10-man Poland to secure a 2-1 win to kick off their EURO 2020 campaign in style.
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After great work from Slovakia’s Robert Mak for the opener (which was given as a Wojciech Szczesny own goal), Poland equalized through Karol Linetty but then the game changed on a red card for Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Milan Skriniar won it for Slovakia, as this was just their second win in European Championship history and puts them in control of Group E. They now face Sweden on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Poland face Spain in Seville with plenty of work to do.
3 things we learned, Poland – Slovakia
1. Lewandowski almost anonymous: Aside from a late header from a corner which he couldn’t get enough on and laying the ball off to a teammate for a stoppage time shot, superstar striker Robert Lewandowski was virtually anonymous. Poland couldn’t get him the ball centrally and had to go wide, but their service to the Bayern Munich star wasn’t good enough. His run on their goal was clever to create space for Linetty, but nobody created space for Lewa.
2. Slovakia well-drilled: This was an exceptional display of teamwork, clever fouls and effort from Slovakia. In their five games before this, they conceded just four goals and you can see why. Stefan Tarkovic was delighted with his side and his subs worked well too, as Slovakia caused the first real shock of the tournament. They now face Sweden in their second group game and a draw should just about clinch their spot in the last 16. That would be a huge shock.
3. Poland under pressure: Well, this hasn’t gone to plan for Paulo Fonseca. As we said, Lewandowski was isolated and Poland didn’t start playing until the start of the second half. The red card crushed their momentum but they lacked creativity throughout and just kept getting the ball wide and hoping for the best. Poland now face Spain, in Spain, in their second group game and they need to get at least a draw to keep their last 16 hopes alive. That is tough.
Man of the Match: Robert Mak – Lovely work for the first goal and his cross led to the winner too. Lively display from the Slovakia forward.
Slovakia took the lead in the first half as Mak cut in from the left, beat Bartosz Bereszynski and his shot hit Kamil Glik, hit the post, hit Szczesny on the back and went in.
It went down as an own goal, but this was all Mak.
Róbert Mak danced down the wing for this goal! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/eevCZf42vA
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 14, 2021
Poland huffed and puffed but couldn’t carve out many clear-cut opportunities as they were forced to take shots from distance.
But 30 seconds into the second half, Poland were level.
A flowing, incisive move cut Slovakia apart as Maciej Rybus was played in and he cut the ball back to Linetty who bundled it home.
Poland looked dangerous after that equalizer but then they suffered a huge set back as Grzegorz Krychowiak was shown a second yellow card and sent off.
Slovakia regained the momentum after that red card and Skriniar hammered home a low shot to put them back ahead.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 14, 2021
Late on Poland pushed hard to equalize, despite being down to 10 men, as Lewandowski flicked a header from a corner just wide.
Southampton defender Jan Bednarek had a glorious chance to snatch a point for Poland in stoppage time, but he dragged his shot inches wide and Karol Swiderski had an effort saved as Slovakia held on for an upset win.