Poland 4:0 Georgia
Another hurdle has been jumped by Adam Nawałka’s Poland team, with Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Georgia edging them one step closer to the 2016 European Championships. But while post-game narratives will indicate an easy victory, and with Nawałka’s press conference giving the impression that everything was in control; the truth is that, for large parts, it was anything but.
Before Robert Lewandowski took the game by its throat heading into injury time, Poland’s slender one-goal lead could have been cancelled-out had Giorgi Navalovski’s second-half thunderbolt been an inch further to the left. Although they could, and perhaps should have been beyond reach by half-time, wastefulness very nearly cost Poland two of their three points.
Put through on goal twice, Kamil Grosicki failed to hit the target. Łukasz Szukała also blazed high-and-wide from just a few yards away. Lewandowski was denied on three occasions – once by Aleksandr Amisulashvili on the line after rounding Giorgi Loria, and twice by the keeper himself: one of which from just five yards out. For large periods there was a resounding sense that Poland’s lack of both killer instinct and, mostly luck, would come back to haunt them.
When Arkadiusz Milik did finally put the Biało-Czewoni a goal-to-the-good just after the hour mark, it too had come seconds after yet more wastefulness: Milik’s corner, like many of the crosses from Grosicki and Sławomir Peszko, failed to beat even the first man. Luckily for Poland the ball was headed-out for yet another corner; from which the Ajax star played a short one-two with Krzysztof Mączyński, before accurately curling over both defence and Loria, into the back of the net.
The goal spurred the crowd, who otherwise had been steadily growing frustrated, into life; and with the introduction of Jakub Błaszczykowski – his first appearance for the national team in twenty months – just minutes later, the noise turned up a notch.
It was the Georgians though who seemed to be boosted; as they piled on pressure, with Poland prepared to sit back and soak it up. This however was a tactic which nearly backfired when Navalovski’s run wasn’t tracked, and he fired a rocket which deflected off of Fabiański’s left-hand upright. By the time the ball arrived back with the full-back, he had strayed into an offside position.
As Poland looked to be content with holding on for the narrow victory, Lewandowski set about improving his own personal tally with great effect. With just a minute left on the clock, the Bayern hitman timed his run perfectly to latch onto Arek Milik’s pass; before comfortable slotting past Loria.
Just a minute later it was Błaszczykowski’s run which evaded the offside trap and drew Loria from his goal. With the keeper in no-man’s land, Kuba lobbed the ball into the centre, where the onrushing Lewandowski needed to just out-jump two defenders to head into the net.
Finally, with the Belarussian referee looking to signal for full-time, Milik once again became provider for his strike partner; playing a long-ball forward. With one touch to control, Lewy sealed the 4-0 result – and his hat-trick – with the final kick of the game.
Now on fourteen points from their six games, and remaining top of the Group D standings, Poland’s progression to Euro 2016 remains in their own hands. With Scotland and Ireland sharing points in Dublin, the gap between Poland and Scotland is now three points, while the Irish are two points further behind.
If the Germans do as is expected of them, and they win every game, then a point in Glasgow and a win against Ireland in Warsaw will be enough to secure second place. However six points in September’s double-header against Germany and Gibraltar could put them on course to top the group.
Poland 4:0 Georgia (0:0)
Milik 61′, Lewandowski 89′, 90+1′, 90+2′.
Fabiański – Piszczek, Pazdan (Komorowski 90+2′), Szukała, Rybus – Grosicki (Jodłowiec 80′), Krychowiak, Mączyński, Peszko (Błaszczykowski 64′) – Lewandowski, Milik.
Loria – Lobzhanidze, Kashia, Amisulasvili, Dvali, Navalovski – Okriashvili (Daushvili 46′), Ananidze, Kobakhidze (Tskhadadzhe 76′), Kazaishvili – Vatsadze (Chanturia 63′).
Georgia coach Kakhaber Tskhadhadze:
“My players played well for 80 minutes, but they forget that the game lasts for 90… I am full of praise for our rivals. Shortly after the final whistle I went over to the coach [Nawałka] and congratulated him on your victory. I told him what I will repeat to you now: You are a machine. This team has a future. Each player on the field knows what to do. You can see great progress in the game of the Polish national team”.
Poland coach Adam Nawałka
“Robert played an excellent match. In the first half he didn’t use two of his opportunities, but you have to remember that he was guarded effectively by the defenders. After the break he had more freedom, and proved his value”.
On the team’s preparation:
“We did a great job before the game. Georgia did not surprise us at all. Compared to the match in the autumn, we have made progress. We play better. It shows. The whole team presented themselves very well. My players deserve praise. From the very beginning we were convinced that we would win this match.