A resilient Górnik Zabrze side held on with ten men for the final ten minutes, leaving Legia Warsaw coach Henning Berg’s final act in charge of the club to surrender a ten-point gap from Piast Gliwice, and the top spot which they so desperately crave.
With Stanislav Cherchesov arriving in Warsaw to sign a two-year deal just hours before kick-off in Górny Śląsk, the result will have had no bearing on the decision to dismiss the Norwegian; yet Berg’s final match in charge of the Wojskowi was left down to his summer signing Nemanja Nikolić to bail them out in a frantic first half which contained all four goals.
Both coaches had made two changes to the sides which drew 1-1 with Lech Poznań and Termalica Bruk-Bet Nieciecza respectively: Górnik switching Adam Dźwigała and Mariusz Przybylski for Radosław Sobolewski and Bartosz Kopacz, and Legia’s Rafał Makowski and Tomasz Jodłowiec replacing Dominik Furman and Stojan Vranjes. Leszek Ojrzyński’s attempt to deploy a five-man back-line in an attempt to thwart Legia’s effective front line looked to be working early on as they soaked up pressure before attempting to get the ball forward to their frontmen.
Defending their newly-opened north stand, and cheered on by their largest crowd in over four years, it took just five minutes for Górnik to get off the mark. A deep Aleksander Kwiek corner found the head of captain Adam Danch; and when his defensive partner Oleksandr Shevelyukhin flicked a header goalwards, Dusan Kuciak was left helpless.
The goal spurred the already-raucous home crowd into life, but an early drinks break gave the visitors time to regroup. With less than twenty minutes on the clock they had found a way back into the game as Łukasz Broź was brought down in the box by Łukasz Madej, and with no hesitation Hungarian international Nikolić sent Kasprzik the wrong way for his 11th goal of the season.
Górnik though quickly gained the upper-hand, and were almost back in front after a Maciej Korzym shot was deflected wide. Just two minutes later though,Michał Kucharczyk was given a telling-off for bringing down Madej in the corner; and from the resulting Kwiek free-kick, Legia were unable to clear, and Radosław Sobolewski – at 38 years and 264 days, extending his record as Górnik’s oldest scorer – fired into the roof of the net from just a few yards.
Again though, the Górnik goal only served to fire-up the visitors, and Nikolić should have levelled soon after with a close range header over Kasprzik’s goal. Just five minutes later though, the Hungarian doubled his tally: latching onto a long forward ball by Jakub Rźezniczak to fire low past the Górnik stopper from just inside the box.
Just before the break the ineffective Kucharczyk was withdrawn for Ivan Trickovski, and the Macedonian midfielder was able to show much more during the second half. But despite finding himself in good opportunities, he struggled to hit the target. With fifteen minutes left, his cross towards Nikolić also caused the home side problems, although Kasprzik was just able divert the ball away from his head with the goal beckoning.
Górnik replaced striker Korzym with left-sided Mariusz Magiera, in an attempt to shore-up the midfield which Legia had begun to dominate; but two quick bookings for Aleksander Kwiek – after 76- and 80-minutes – placed them in a precarious position for the final ten. Legia then proceeded to pound the home goal through Ondrej Duda three-times, and Trickovski twice, but were thwarted by both the in-form Kasprzik, and the stubborn Górnik back-line.
“Well we have to see” said Berg in the post-match press-conference, when asked whether it would be his last game in charge of the club. “There has been a lot of speculation: Russian coach, Polish coach; but it is not for me to decide. I don’t know anything.”
Within hours the axe had fallen; and now preparing to start life under Cherchesov, there is much work and improvement needed if Legia wish to consider themselves title-challengers.
Górnik Zabrze – Legia Warszawa 2:2 (2:2)
Shevelyukhin 5′, Sobolewski 31′ – Nikolić (p) 20′, 39′
Grzegorz Kasprzik – Pavel Vidanov, Bartosz Kopacz, Adam Danch (c), Oleksandr Shevelyukhin, Rafał Kosznik – Radosław Sobolewski (Mariusz Przybylski 74′), Aleksander Kwiek – Roman Gergel, Łukasz Madej (Armin Cerimagić 77′) – Maciej Korzym (Mariusz Magiera 58′).
Coach: Leszek Ojrzyński
Dusan Kuciak – Łukasz Broź, Jakub Rzeźniczak (c), Michał Pazdan, Tomasz Brzyski – Guilherme (Ondrej Duda 58′), Rafał Makowski (Stojan Vranjes 80′), Tomasz Jodłowiec, Michał Kucharczyk (Ivan Trickovski 43′) – Aleksander Prijović, Nemanja Nikolić.
Coach: Henning Berg
Vidanov – 37′, Kwiek 76′, 80′, Kasprzik 89′ – Guilherme 26′
Tomasz Musiał (Kraków)