Legia works hard to earn their first win

Legia celebrates win at Podbeskidzie (photo: Legia.com)

The very first half was more than just a confirmation of what Legia’s captain and soon-to-be Sport’s Director, Michał Żewłakow complained about in Friday’s papers. “There is nothing wrong with our form or fitness levels, Legia is struggling mentally,” was his claim and at foggy Podbeskidzie title contenders were rather toothless as only mistakes allowed them anywhere close Richard Zajac’s goal.

Dariusz Kubicki’s side came in with lots of confidence and hoped to continue their good two-match-long clean sheet run and prove that their battle to stay up is far from over. Pawela and Chmiel tested Kuciak in the opening half but most of the game was played in Podbeskidzie’s half as Legia huffed and puffed but could only produce little. Jędrzejczyk did more harm to himself than to Zajac with overhead kick and Ljuboja has seen his left-foot free kick going just wide.

Legia was slow, predictable and lacking the individual spark that Kosecki, Radović and Ljuboja were normally offering them in the first round of the season. Bereszyński, played again as a right-back in Żewłakow’s absence, did well playing high up the pitch but rarely produced anything more than just another option to play forward and pass back again. Kosecki was visible only when he switched to more central role and won couple of fouls in dangerous positions, also trying to claim the ball when it was played over the defence, only to see himself pushed onto the side by incoming Zajac.

The second half opened strongly for visitors as Saganowski pushed forward and fought himself enough space to create danger deep inside Podbeskidzie’s box but could only see as his tame effort goes past wide post. But he got his goal eventually, on an otherwise average night, when Kosecki took advantage of Zajac’s bad decision making in 53rd minute and linked with cross but his header could only hit the crossbar. Thankfully for Legia, there was Saganowski incoming as well and not even Telichowski’s clearance could not stop his rebound.

But that narrow lead satisfied Legia where it should not. Podbeskidzie pushed up even further, created danger and enjoyed their leveller. Demjan was denied by Kuciak on his first effort in 73rd minute, but then Wawrzyniak allowed low cross come in and home striker scored from tight angle with a clever, cheeky touch that surprised Astiz as much as Kuciak, who could only watch as shot goes over his head.

When all was set up for another Legia struggle, they did everything to neglect Żewłakow’s claims by throwing man forward and attack with fury. Kosecki was given the ball to his feet more often and substitute Dvalishvili’s movement offered more than Saganowski did all night. Legia needed just three minutes of their anger to claim three points as corner was poorly cleared, Wawrzyniak has taken the ball down, turned on his marker and saw his shot goes in off the post for an otherwise deserved winner.

Podbeskidzie tried again, but Legia controlled the game over chaotic attacks and the only moment of worry in late stages came when Cetković took advantage of Wawrzyniak’s poor pass and his long range effort was brilliantly saved by Kuciak. Radović should give Legia a third but decided for a poor lob over emphatic finish, while Dvalishvili tried to nick his premier league goal in but his effort was wide as well.

Legia have won but was still far from their possible best as moments of class were outnumbered by those of averageness. Ljuboja improved but moaned on couple occasions, while Kosecki went silent on too many times – Radović’s comeback was good news but he is still some way off his usual levels. Solidness will come, hopefully for Legia, but putting more pressure on their title race rivals will do for now. As for Podbeskidzie, their survival aim is far from over as Dariusz Kubicki improved form of his players and if they average four points each three games – as they did so far this spring – they will surely stay up. The last time thirty points were not enough to keep Ekstraklasa status was in 2003.

Podbeskidzie 1-2 (0-0) Legia Warsaw

Demjan 73′ – Saganowski 53′, Wawrzyniak 76′

Jagiellonia’s center-back Ugochukwu Ukah was at his recent self when he was caught ball watching as Zagłębie’s Boris Godal went past him and headed the ball in in dying seconds of an entertaining match in Lubin. Early Friday’s game was started brightly by hosts but referee was at fault allowing Papadopulos’ controlled the ball with his hand before shooting past Jakub Słowik to open the scoreline. But Jagiellonia answered six minutes from the half time, when a fine, collective move ended with Dani Quintana chipping the ball over Michał Gliwa.

A game of many chances – with most of them coming from unlucky Szymon Pawłowski, who rattled the crossbar and was match’s top performer all-round – ended deep into the added time, as Zagłębie moved to sixth place and continue their usual spring rise. Jagiellonia, on the other hand, looked shaky in defence but brilliant at going forward with Ebi Smolarek and Dani Quintana linking well at times, even if lacking the final product. With both sides having something to cheer on, the middle of the Ekstraklasa table gets flat as clubs surge to reach the 30-point mark meaning definite survival. Zagłębie, thanks as much to Godal as to Ukah, is one step closer.

Zagłębie Lubin 2-1 (1-1) Jagiellonia Białystok

Papadopulos 12′, Gondel 90′ – Quintana 39′

Highlights of both games can be found HERE

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