After three consecutive Ekstraklasa defeats, Górnik Zabrze boss Adam Nawałka took charge of his 100th competitive game at the club, and watched his side dominate Widzew Łódź – pushing them back into the hunt for one of the three European spots in the process. Their win put pressure on Widzew coach Radosław Mroczkowski, whose side is still to register a victory in the league since the opening day of December.
“We gained a very important three points” Nawałka told journalists in the post-game press conference. “After three defeats, it was a tough match. In such a game, we were expecting such a commitment – controlling the middle of the pitch, pressing, forcing the opponent to make mistakes”.
Whilst Widzew struggled out of the blocks, the home side seemed to be suffering no hangover from the international break as both Wojciech Łuczak and Mariusz Przybylski went close to opening the scoring within the twenty minutes. And with the visitors still struggling to match the pace of their hosts, it was former Auxerre and Lille striker Ireneusz Jeleń who finally managed to break the deadlock halfway through the first period. Played in wonderfully by midfielder Aleksander Kwiek, Jeleń hit a low drive across goal and into Maciej Krakowiak’s left-hand corner giving him his first goal for the Trójkolorowi.
Things got even better for Górnik barely five minutes later when a Kwiek free-kick bounced awkwardly in front of Krakowiak. Whilst the young keeper should have been able to keep the effort out comfortably, the goal was no more than the home side deserved, having dominated proceedings thus far.
When Widzew finally did finally get a chance to get back into the game just before the break, Marcin Kaczmarek blazed over the bar from two yards when it would have been easier to score.
Kaczmarek’s miss quickly spurred Mroczkowski into a couple of tactical substitutions before the start of the second period. After deciding to rest Bartłomiej Pawłowski and Mariusz Stępiński after their goalscoring performances for the U21 National Team, both were brought on to help bring Widzew back into the game. And just six minutes into the second period, his change was justified as former Warta Poznań star Pawłowski smashed home from eighteen yards, via the inside of the post, for his second Ekstraklasa goal.
Whilst Widzew had started the second half the brighter, it didn’t take long for Górnik to regain their dominance of the tie. A Mariusz Magiera long range effort dipped just wide of the post just two minutes later, before a goalmouth scramble should have seen Górnik re-establish their two goal lead – Michał Płotka blocking twice on the line.
However Górnik finally did get their third just after the hour mark when captain Adam Danch headed in his third of the season from a Magiera corner, and although the scoreline remained the same, it wasn’t through lack of effort – both Tomasz Zahorski and Mariusz Przybylski unable to extend the lead.
Attention in Zabrze now turns to next weekend’s clash with fellow European-chasers Śląsk Wrocław, where any winner will feel confident of pushing on for that all-important third-position and Europa League Qualifying spot.
Górnik Zabrze – Widzew Łódź 3:1 (2:0)
Jeleń 24′, Kwiek 30′, Danch 63′ – Pawłowski 50′
Górnik: Skorupski – Danch, Magiera, Kopacz, Olkowski – Kwiek, Przybylski, Mączyński, Łuczak (Zahorski 79′), Nakoulma (Iwan 79′) – Jeleń (Bonin 69′).
Widzew: Krakowiak – Broź, Gavrić. Phibel, Kramar (Pawłowski 39′) – Płotka, Abbes (Batrović 69′), Kaczmarek, Bartoszewicz (Stępiński 46′), Dudek – Okachi.
Yellow Cards: Magiera 10′ – Broź 53′