A riotous performance saw Poland hit five goals for the third time under Adam Nawałka, as Finland were put to the sword with a comprehensive 5-0 victory in Wrocław, in the Poles’ final game before their Euro 2016 warm-ups in June.
First-half goals from Kamil Grosicki, Paweł Wszołek and Filip Starzyński put the game practically beyond doubt before the break, while Grosicki and Wszołek struck again to cap-off a hugely difficult evening for Hans Backe’s Finnish side.
As the second game of the international break, coach Adam Nawałka was comfortable enough to experiment with his line-up, giving the opportunity to test some of his fringe players ahead of selecting his Euro 2016 squad in May. As a result, Nawałka made seven changes to the side which edged past Serbia on Wednesday night, with only Kamil Glik, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Grosicki and Arkadiusz Milik retaining their places. The Selekcjoner also opted to start third-choice keeper Artur Boruc, while naming five Ekstraklasa players in his starting eleven: Artur Jędrzejczyk, Michał Pazdan, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Bartosz Kapustka and Starzyński.
Right from the get-go, it was one-way traffic, as Poland looked for a more comprehensive performance than the one which fans in Poznań were treated to three days previously. Although early breaks may have been a little inaccurate, the correct intentions were there, with Kapustka, Starzyński and Wszołek all looking to get involved.
That all changed in the 18th minute – and dramatically too. Good movement on the right side from Jędrzejczyk resulted in an accurate cross towards Grosicki. The Stade Rennes winger didn’t hesitate, and took his shot on the turn. Finnish keeper Lukas Hradecky didn’t stand a chance as it rolled right into the corner of the goal, taking a deflection off of his right-hand upright.
Before fans had even finished celebrating, 1-0 became 2-0. An inch-perfect pass from the centre of midfield by Starzyński found the advancing Grosicki on the left-hand side. This time turning provider, his ball across the face of the goal avoided all except for Hellas Verona winger Paweł Wszołek, who couldn’t miss from just a few yards.
For a short period the Poles felt comfortable enough to step-off the gas, allowing their back-line to freely pass the ball around, yet they still came close to adding a third when Milik’s shot deflected to the off-balance Jędrzejczyk, who couldn’t react in time to direct the ball goalwards.
The Wrocławianin fans didn’t however have to wait long for the third – this time Wszołek turning assistant. His cut-back found Starzyński on the edge of the box, who then took one touch to control on the turn, another to free himself from the defender, and a third to curl beautifully past the helpless Hradecky.
Grosicki soon when close to adding a fourth as his cross evaded all before striking the outside of the post. Meanwhile at the opposite end, just before the break the Finns were allowed their first real chance on goal by a poor Jędrzejczyk back-pass; and although Boruc tackled well at the feet of Pohjanpalo, Pazdan was forced to block Hetemaj’s shot on the line.
Clearly pleased with the performance, Nawałka made just two changes at the break – opting to share the goalkeeping workload with the introduction of Przemek Tytoń, while Krychowiak was again rested after recently returning from injury, with Jodłowiec once more taking his place.
Despite the changes, service resumed much as it had in the first period, with the Poles’ high pressing causing problems for the Finnish back line. Both Wszołek and Kapustka earned chances, but were unable to convert. Before the Wrocław crowd had time to calm into the second half, the introduction of Robert Lewandowski in place of Milik raised the roof once more; and within five minutes, the lead was extended.
Wszołek grabbed his second of the game with a comfortable finish from just a few yards, however much of the praise should be directed to those involved in the build-up – notably Messrs Grosicki and Starzyński. The almost-telepathic understanding between them ensured that Starzyński’s through-ball was well-weighted for the speeding Grosicki, before his cross was deflected into the path of the loosely-marked Wszołek.
Although Finland began to muster a few attacks soon after, they were easily dealt with; and once again the best chances fell Poland’s way. After Wszołek earned a free-kick on the edge of the box, Lewandowski took control around the ball, only to see his free-kick smash against the underside of the crossbar.
But as the Finns tired, Poland’s aggression continued, and they were rewarded with a fifth as the game entered its final stages. Substitute centre-back Bartosz Salamon hit what had originally looked like a speculative 50-yard punt upfield, but actually turned-out to be a perfectly-weighted ball to the tireless Grosicki. With one touch he beat the defender, and with another the goalkeeper, rounding-off a satisfying international break for the White Eagles.
Poland – Finland 5:0 (3:0) – Friendly Match, Stadion Wrocław, Wrocław
Grosicki 18′, 85′; Wszołek 20′, 67′; Starzyński 32′;
Poland: Artur Boruc (Przemysław Tytoń 46′) – Artur Jędrzejczyk, Kamil Glik (c), Michał Pazdan, Jakub Wawrzyniak – Paweł Wszołek (Jakub Błaszczykowski 86′), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Tomasz Jodłowiec 46′), Bartosz Kapustka (Bartosz Salamon 79′), Filip Starzyński (Piotr Zieliński 67′), Kamil Grosicki – Arkadiusz Milik (Robert Lewandowski 63′)
Finland: Lukas Hradecky – Kari Arkivuo, Paulus Arajuuri, Joona Toivio, Jere Uronen – Alexander Ring (Janne Saksela 82′), Tim Sparv (c), Perparim Hetemaj (Robin Lod 46′) – Roman Eremenko (Thomas Lam 78′), Kasper Hamalainen (Rasmus Schuller 46′) – Joel Pohjanpalo (Teemu Pukki 62′)
Yellow Cards: Glik 43′ – Arkivuo 81′
Artur Boruc – 6: Comfortable when called upon – which was very rarely. A good saving tackle after Jędrzejczyk’s sloppy pass.
Artur Jędrzejczyk – 7: Very good at helping the attack. Involved in a couple of the goals. One slight misplaced pass could have cost Poland a goal before the break though.
Kamil Glik – 7: His comfortable, solid self. Booked for a poor tackle on Hamalainen.
Michał Pazdan – 7: Staked a claim for not only a seat on the plane to France, but a spot in the starting line-up. Good awareness to save on the line late in the first half.
Jakub Wawrzyniak – 6.5: Solid, and never really troubled. With Grosicki in front, he was never really required to be involved in attack.
Paweł Wszołek – 8.5: Two well-taken goals, and also an assist. Never looked out of place, and has now surely earned a spot in the Euro 2016 squad.
Grzegorz Krychowiak – 5: Not as involved as he could have been. Outshone by those around him.
Bartosz Kapustka – 7: Eager to get involved, and once again didn’t look out of place – even if he did ocassionally hold onto the ball for too long.
Filip Starzyński – 8.5: Great range of passing. Started the movements for both of Wszołek‘s goals, and scored a beauty himself.
Kamil Grosicki – 8.5 (STAR MAN): Fantastic movement, great in attack, and unlucky to be denied a hat-trick by the post. A guaranteed starter in the summer.
Arkadiusz Milik – 5: Isolated on his own up-front. Struggled to make an impact on the game.
Przemysław Tytoń – 6: Like Boruc, rarely tested; but when he was there were no mistakes.
Tomasz Jodłowiec – 6: Did his job no worse than the more-established Krychowiak. Happy to get involved both in attack and defence.
Robert Lewandowski – 6: Like Milik struggled to get involved whilst on his own, but was willing to drop deeper. Unlucky with his free-kick.
Piotr Zieliński – 6: Did his chances for the summer no harm, but didn’t have much time to get involved.
Bartosz Salamon – 7: Never caused a problem in defence, but deserves plenty of praise for his fifty-yard assist for Grosicki’s second.
Jakub Błaszczykowski -: Too late to make an impact.