Controversy. Shocks. Goals. Ekstraklasa Matchday 22 was full of entertainment. With Legia managing to keep a hold of their lead at the top, and the relegation battle opening up to include a team other than Podbeskidzie and GKS Bełchatów, we take a look at the winners and losers of the weekend.
LOSER: Sebastian Małkowski
Two minutes… That’s all that Lechia Gdańsk’s 26 year-old keeper managed against Jagiellonia before a torn leg muscle forced him off the field. Now I know that in itself isn’t anything abnormal, but bear in mind that the game was Małkowski’s first of the season after surgery to reconstruct damaged ligaments.
The injury is the latest in a long line for Małkowski after spending time out of the side thanks to concussion and pulled muscles – just to name a few of his ailments. The keeper now faces another 10 weeks on the sidelines at the PGE Arena, meaning he will not take any further part in Lechia’s season.
WINNER: Jagiellonia Białystok
Tomasz Hajto’s men made the long trip to Gdańsk on the back of a three-game unbeaten run, and Sunday’s hard-fought 3-2 victory over Lechia moved them into the top-half. The victory led Hajto to proclaim that his side aren’t happy with a mid-table finish, and the European spots are still within their sights.
Whilst the notion may have seemed far-fetched a few weeks ago, three wins from four have seen them rocket up the table to seventh position – just four behind reigning champions Śląsk in third place.
With striker Tomasz Frankowski aiming to bag as many as possible before his impending retirement, and Dani Quintana, Dawid Plizga and now Ebi Smolarek chipping in with goals, they certainly have a chance of making Hajto’s dream become a reality.
LOSER: Górnik Zabrze
Whilst Jaga are making a late push for the coveted third European spot, 14-time champions Górnik are slowly relinquishing their chances of picking it up. Their late defeat to relegation-threatened Podbeskidzie – their fifth in seven Spring round games – has surely ruled Adam Nawałka’s men out as a side who can go on to claim their spot in the Europa League qualifiers. In fact, it’s nothing short of a miracle that despite their recent record they still only sit two points behind that third-place spot.
A win next week against Korona Kielce is badly needed for Górnik, as the following Sunday they head into an important Wielkie Derby Śląska against their great rivals Ruch Chorzów. Whilst failure to achieve that European spot would be disappointing, failure to beat the Niebiescy for their fifth successive meeting would be disastrous.
WINNER: Robert Demjan
Arguably the most effective and sought-after striker in the Ekstraklasa at the moment, Robert Demjan is almost single-handedly pulling Podbeskidzie towards Ekstraklasa safety. With seven goals in seven Spring Round games, it is understandable that he is attracting the interest of some top Ekstraklasa clubs, and has most recently been touted as a replacement for Marek Saganowski at Legia Warszawa.
Another of the clubs rumoured to be interested in the Slovakian striker is the one who he helped to down on Sunday. Demjan’s late strike lifted the Górale to within five points of safety, having picked up three wins and three draws since the return to action following the winter break. His goal in Zabrze takes him to eleven for the season, and he now sits just one behind Danijel Ljuboja at the top of the scoring charts.
LOSER: Sebastian Jarzębak
If you want to look at the biggest mistake of the Ekstraklasa weekend, you have no need to look towards the managers or players. Even the referee or his linesmen can avoid the blame to a certain extent. But goal-line assistant Sebastian Jarzębak? Well, lets just say he may find himself on the officials’ scrapheap soon.
In arguably the biggest game of the weekend, between two great rivals and the biggest clubs of the last 20 years, Wisła Kraków and Legia Warszawa, Jarzębak failed to notice that Artur Jędrzejczyk’s cross had already passed the goal-line – despite the fact that he was less than two yards away!
Jędzrejczyk’s cross was met by Georgian striker Vladimir Dvalishvili, who gave the visitors the lead – infuriating the home side. With the goal allowed to stand, it’s almost certain that Jarzębak won’t be welcomed back to Reymonta 22 with open arms. However it won’t be soon – he’s been suspended for two games…
WINNER: Ruch Chorzów
It was only a couple of weeks ago where Jacek Zieliński’s side were unable to buy a win for love nor money. But now with ten points from their last six league games, it’s looking as though Ruch Chorzów could be safe in the Ekstraklasa for another season.
After their surprise 3-2 win against Zagłębie looked to be a turning point for the Niebiescy, a 3-1 loss to their relegation rivals Podbeskidzie seemed to pull them straight back down again. However the weekend’s trip to Bełchatów not only widened the gap between the two clubs, but also climbed Ruch into 13th place ahead of Pogoń Szczecin.
Whilst their upcoming games against Polonia and Górnik would have been daunting in autumn, the two sides are off-form at the moment. If there ever was a good time to play against the pair – who both sit in the top 5 – it would be now.
LOSER: GKS Bełchatów
Whilst they started Spring in surprisingly good form – unbeaten in their opening five of spring – they have tailed off quickly. Now with back-to-back defeats against Korona and Ruch, GKS look certain to face relegation before June’s final round arrives.
Even though the task looked to be too much for the Brunatni to undertake, whilst they were still unbeaten and yet to concede a goal in 2013, there was always a feeling that Bełchatów could achieve the almost-impossible and claw back the massive defecit. But now that Lithuanian stopper Emilijus Zubas has been beaten four times in two games, normal service seems to have been resumed.
MATCHDAY 22 RESULTS
Pogoń Szczecin 1-1 Widzew Łódź
Zagłębie Lubin 2-1 Korona Kielce
GKS Bełchatów 0-3 Ruch Chorzów
Polonia Warszawa 2-2 Śląsk Wrocław
Wisła Kraków 1-2 Legia Warszawa
Górnik Zabrze 0-1 Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biała
Lechia Gdańsk 2-3 Jagiellonia Białystok
Piast Gliwice 0-3 Lech Poznań
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Jakub Słowik (Jagiellonia)
Artur Jędrzejczyk (Legia)
Hubert Wołąkiewicz (Lech)
Marcin Kamiński (Lech)
Marek Szyndrowski (Ruch)
Aleksander Tonev (Lech)
Kasper Hamalainen (Lech)
Dani Quintana (Jagiellonia)
Jacek Kiełb (Polonia)
Robert Demjan (Podbeskidzie)
Maciej Jankowski (Ruch)