A scorching strike from captain Jakub Blaszczykowski earned Poland a 1-1 draw with Russia, leaving Group A wide open.
Earlier this afternoon the Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1, so the final showdown between the Czechs and Poles should decide who’ll qualify, as they have three and two points respectively.
There was tension before the politically-charged Group A game with riot police intervening between rival fans, as a Russian Independence Day march was attacked in Warsaw, leading to 56 arrests and seven injured. Before kick-off, visiting fans had a huge provocative banner that read: ‘This is Russia.’
On the field, Russia were full of confidence after a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic and kept the same starting XI, whereas the co-hosts had drawn 1-1 with Greece and Dariusz Dudka replaced Maciej Rybus. Przemyslaw Tyton stepped in for the suspended Wojciech Szczesny.
Vyacheslav Malafeev needed an instinctive save with his foot when Sebastian Boenisch got a glancing header to a free kick in the opening minutes. A Robert Lewandowski chest and volley whistled over the bar, then Eugen Polanski had the ball in the net when flagged offside at the end of a free-flowing move.
For all the Polish pressure, it was Russia who opened the scoring from a set piece. Andrey Arshavin curled in a free kick for the head of Alan Dzagoev from six yards across Tyton, his third goal of the tournament.
Russia had penalty appeals just before half-time for a push, but the officials awarded a free kick against Dzagoev instead.
Straight after the restart Lewandowski burst through the middle of the defence to go clear, but Malafeev did enough to steer him wide for a corner. The goalkeeper again came flying out to block on a one-on-one with Lewandowski.
Poland did eventually snatch an equaliser in style, as captain Jakub Blaszczykowski unleashed an absolute screamer that flew into the far top corner from the edge of the box to conclude a rapid counter-attack.
Dzagoev threatened another brace, but Tyton was equal to the finish. Moments later at the other end a pull-back from the by-line found Polanski to test Malafeev from point-blank range.
Ludovic Obraniak’s counter-attack was too weak to beat Malafeev, while Yuri Zhirkov stumbled in the box for Russia. Obraniak was furious with his Coach in stoppages, as he was substituted when preparing to take a free kick from a dangerous position.
Poland 1-1 Russia
Scorers: Dzagoev 37 (R), Blaszczykowski 57 (P)
Poland: Tyton; Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch; Dudka (Mierzejewski 73), Polanski (Matuszczyk 84); Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak (Brozek 93); Lewandowski
Russia: Malafeev; Anyukov, A Berezutski, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Shirokov, Denisov, Zyryanov; Dzagoev (Izmailov 79), Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 70), Arshavin
Ref: Stark (Ger)
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