by Ryan Hubbard
Poland stormed to the top of Group D with a second-half super show, which saw Georgian boss Temuri Ketsbaia’s reign end with a heavy defeat.
Goals from Kamil Glik, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Sebastian Mila and Arkadiusz Milik – all coming after the break – not only maintained the Białe-Orły’s unbeaten record, but leaves them three points ahead of the chasing pack after the first four games.
Adam Nawałka made a single change to the side which drew with Scotland last month, with Śląsk Wrocław midfielder Mila coming in for Waldemar Sobota. There were also four changes for the Georgians, with Ketsbaia opting for a defensive formation to try to combat Poland’s attacking duo of Milik and Robert Lewandowski.
During the first period though, Poland’s biggest threat came from winger Kamil Grosicki, who was denied on a handful of occasions. After Milik smashed an effort onto the crossbar, Grosicki calmly collected the rebound before his own thunderbolt was kept out by Giorgio Loria’s left-hand post. The keeper himself saved brilliantly a few minutes later to keep-out Grosicki’s low drive, while the Stade Rennes man put a curling effort inches wide just before the break.
While Poland were more threatening in front of goal, the home side were not as defensive as they had looked on paper. With Grosicki, Milik and Mila afforded space to get forward, the defensive pairing of Krzysztof Mączyński and Grzegorz Krychowiak were overrun for periods of the first half, as the Georgian midfield found themselves in good positions, only for the final ball to be wasted.
However they did breach the Poland back line on occasions, with captain Kankava shooting wide after good work out wide; and with the visiting defence unable to properly clear a free-kick, Kobakhidze blazed over from just a few yards.
Whatever Nawałka told his team during the half-time break seemed to have the desired effect – and quickly too, as the Poles came out with attacking vigour. Loria was on hand to thwart another Grosicki effort, and with the ball eventually working its way to Lewandowski, the OFI Crete stopper found himself called into action again to block a bicycle kick from the Bayern hitman.
There was nothing that the keeper could do from the resulting corner though, as Mila’s deep cross was headed back into the centre by Krychowiak. Torino captain Kamil Glik was perfectly positioned to divert the ball goalwards, with Georgian captain Kankava booked for his effort to keep the ball out of the net with his hand.
Going behind spurred Ketsbaia into making changes, however Poland simply turned the screw further; and twenty minutes later their lead was doubled.
With a floated free-kick outside the area, Glik returned the favour by flicking the ball in Krychowiak’s direction. As the defence appealed for an offside that was never coming, the number eight tapped home from close range – his first ever senior international goal.
Before Georgian keeper Loria had even had time to catch breath, he was picking the ball from the back of his net once again. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Mila’s trusted left foot left the keeper clutching at thin air as a curled effort sailed over him.
With an unassailable lead, Poland relaxed as the game petered out, but still had chances to add to their lead. Lewandowski was played in, and unselfishly attempted to square to substitute Maciej Rybus, however the Terek Grozny midfielder was just beaten to the cross. Milik hit the woodwork minutes later as an attempted clearance was blocked, only for the Ajax star to see his deflection bounce off of the top of the bar.
20-year-old Milik did however get his name on the scoresheet in injury time, as Lewandowski drew out defenders before playing a neat cross to his team-mate. Milik had time to compose himself before tapping home his third in four games, rounding off an impressive victory.
The result in Glasgow may not have gone Poland’s way, but with home games against Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar remaining, as well as visits to Ireland and Scotland, qualification is very much in Polish hands.
Victory in Dublin in Spring will go a long way to add to their hopes of reaching Euro 2016. If they can achieve it, even the most hardened pessimist will have confidence that this Polish side can achieve its goal.
Georgia – Poland 0:4 (0:0)
Glik 51′, Krychowiak 71′, Mila 73′, Milik 90+2′
Loria – Lobzhanidze, Kverkvelia, Khubutia, Grigalava – Daushvili, Kashia – Ananidze (Okriashvili 59′), Kankava, Kobakhidze (Dzalamidze 88′) – Mchedlidze (Chanturia 68′).
Szczęsny – Piszczek, Szukała, Glik, Jędrzejczyk – Mączyński (Jodłowiec 66′), Krychowiak – Grosicki (Rybus 69′), Mila, (Linetty 86′) Milik – Lewandowski.
Kankana 52′, Lobzhanidze 56′ – Glik 79′, Jodłowiec 83′, Linetty 90+1′