June 16, 2012 by joshilan14
Czech Republic 1-0 Poland
Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Kadlec, Sivok, Limbersky; Hubschman, Kolar; Pilar (Rezek), Plasil, Jiracek (Rajtoral); Baros (Pekhart)
Poland: Tyton; Boenisch, Wasilewski, Perquis, Piszczek; Dudka, Polanski (Grosicki); Obraniak (Brozek), Murawski (Mierzejewksi), Blaszczykowski; Lewandowski
Before the start of the proceedings today, Poland was the favourites, despite their failure to pick up a victory on their own patch so far. The Czech Republic had form as they won their last match 2-1 against Greece. Despite the game being played in Poland, the Gdansk stadium was nearer the Czech capital Prague than it was to the Poland capital of Warsaw. The Czech Republic just needed a draw to go through; while Poland needed all three points.
Poland took the initiative early on, with Darius Dudka’s impressive overhead kick hitting the side netting. One of the tournament’s surprise stars Vaclav Pilar fluffed a chance from close range about a minute later; while Ludovic Obraniak’s free-kick hit the side netting for Poland. Five minutes later, Robert Lewandowski skewed a shot wide, when he should have perhaps done better. Poland’s domination continued when Sebastien Boenisch’s shot from long-range had to be tipped round the post by Petr Cech. Milan Baros against the run-of-play, but he failed to connect after evading the offside trap. Pilar had an effort soon after from twenty yards, which was clutched at at the second attempt for Premyslaw Tyton.
A late Giorgios Karagounis goal in the first-half of Greece vs Russia saw both teams’ needing a win to qualify.
The second half did not start with a flurry of chance in a contrast to the first-half. David Limbersky had the first meaningful effort on the 56th minute, but the Czech Republic left-back’s effort hit the side netting. Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for: a mention for my team Barnet’s Underhill stadium, when they were talking about Slask Wroclaw’s old stadium in comparison to their new one. A goal finally did come, when another impressive Czech Petr Jiracek calmly slotted the ball home from close range to put the Czech Republic in front and gave them a big step towards qualification. Poland then started to pile on the pressure, but it looked seemingly unlikely that they would get the two goals they richly needed. They almost got one in the last minute though when Jakub Blaszczykowski (at least I won’t be spelling his name again!) had a shot destined for goal, but Jan Rezek’s brave block saw Poland denied; while Robert Lewandowski’s follow-up was cleared.
The game ended 1-0 to the Czech Republic, which saw them and Greece secure an unlikely passage to the quarter-finals. Poland only have themselves to blame though: in all of their games, they should have secured victory, but wasted chance after chance and were punished for it. With home advantage, a good team, an easy group and a proven goalscorer, they should have done better.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Petr Jiracek
BEST MOMENT: Jakub Blaszczykowski’s last minute shot being brilliantly diverted away by Jan Rezek. Simply stunning.
MATCH RATING: 7/10
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