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February 26 2020
Russia hold co-host Poland to 1-1 draw
13 June 2012

Russia boosted their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stages of Euro 2012 by holding Poland to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday, despite a gutsy performance from the co-hosts during a fast-paced encounter at Warsaw’s National Stadium.

Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev opened the scoring in the 37th minute with a deadly header off an Andrey Arshavin free-kick, but Poland clinched the equalizer in the 57th with captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, author of one of the best goals seen at the Euro 2012 tournament so far.

The result left Russia at the top of group A with four points from two games, while the Czech Republic are now second with three points after defeating Greece 2-1 earlier in the day.

Poland must now defeat the Czechs on Saturday to qualify, while Russia will only need a draw from their clash with bottom-of-the-group Greece to go through to the knock-out stages.

“It’s true that when you score an equalizing goal like that it gives really good energy to the team,” Blaszczykowski said after the match.

“We’re still in contention with two points and if we win our final game we’re through. We’ll fight until the end,” the Polish captain added.

The buildup to the game was marred by clashes between fans from both sides and the police, with at least 56 people arrested and another 10 injured in the Polish capital.

According to reports, Polish fans hurled stones and firecrackers as Russian fans walked to the game’s venue in a march marking a Russian national holiday.

Many Poles remain hostile towards Russia because of World War II and the Communist era, when Poland was effectively controlled by the Soviet Union.

Inside the capital’s National Stadium, Poland made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Greece on Friday. Goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton started in place of the suspended Wojciech Szczesny, while Dariusz Dudka was preferred to Maciej Rybus in midfield.

Russia named an unchanged side after their convincing 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic, with Aleksandr Kerzhakov retaining his place in the side despite spurning a series of chances in that match. Roman Pavyluchenko was therefore forced to satisfy himself with a place on the bench.

Egged on by a capacity crowd of 55,920, the home side appeared far more confident than in their opening match and put the Russians under pressure for much of the first half.

With both defences kept busy for the entire 90 minutes, the first chance of the game fell on Robert Lewandowski, but his dipping volley in the 11th flew just inches over the crossbar.

In the 17th, Eugen Polanski scored after some great one-touch passing by the Poles, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

In the 37th, however, Russia showed just how dangerous they can be, with Arshavin directing a free-kick inside the area for Dzagoev to head in.

Poland immediately responded with captain Blaszczykowski, but his rifle was well saved by Russian goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.

Just second into the second half, Lewandowski had a golden opportunity to equalize, but Malafeev kept his nerve and made sure the Borussia Dortmund striker could not be dangerous in front of goal.

Poland’s efforts were rewarded in the 57th: Blaszczykowski made a run on the right, turned in and beat Malafeev with a wonderful left-footer from 25 yards.

The home side could have gone ahead in the 68th, but Polanski had his low-flying finish from edge of six-yard box saved.

Russian coach Dick Advocaat brought on Pavlyuchenko in the 69th, but the red jerseys faded fast and were lucky to leave the stadium with a point.

“We played very open football in the second half, which gave the Poland players an opportunity to play on the counter, and they took advantage of that. We were a little bit tired and not able to apply the pressure we wanted,” Russian captain Arshavin conceded after the match.

 

 

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