Cristiano Ronaldo News

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Euro Qual Group A Report: Poland Shock Portugal

Costinha’s admission that Poland were favourites was borne out at the Slaski stadium, Chorzow, as the hosts raked in all three points. Poland took full advantage of a total absence of concentration in the initial stages of the match by a Portugal who only came back to grab a consolation in injury time...

Poland took an early lead as Lewandowski cut through a sleepy Selecção defense before unleashing an initial shot that Ricardo managed to block but not hold and Smolarek (8 min) was pitiless as he walloped the leftover past the Sporting Lisbon keeper.

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to respond but mistimed his arrival as Deco crossed into the hosts’ area, but it was Poland who went two ahead as Benfica’s Ricardo Rocha missed an interception, Costinha didn'tcover and an alert Rasiak launched Smolarek (18 min) to bag his brace and leave Scolari’s men reeling, the Coach fuming on the sidelines.

Things weren’t going Portugal’s way as Simão flirted with a red card and Ricardo had to intervene as the Poles launched forward in search of an even bigger advantage. In fact the hosts were unlucky as a shot slammed off the Lusitanian post.

Simão had a good chance ten minutes from the break but the team was visibly misfiring on all levels and Scolari seemed unable to whip his men into some sort of order – either defensive or offensive. The first half ended with delight on the terraces and abject humiliation on the faces of the Portuguese players.

Tiago came on for Costinha as Scolari tried to inject more offensive fury into his mushy midfield, Portugal pushing forth and Nuno Gomes missing his chance in a muddle in the Polish box. The hosts took full advantage of the Swiss cheese holes that opened up in the Portuguese ranks and forced Ricardo into a good save.

Nuno Gomes put a Simão cross wide as Portugal looked exasperated and impotent to bring back their best work. Luckily Poland were not as accurate as in the first half and Carvalho and Rocha were more alert as the prospect of a goalfest loomed over the Selecção players.

Sporting Lisbon’s goalgetting right winger Nani was brought on for Petit with twenty minutes to go as Scolari put all his chips on more firepower up front. Nevertheless it was Poland that dominated the attacking. Maniche came on for an exhausted and irritated Deco as the game reached crunch time.

Cristiano Ronaldo was left grimacing after failing to convert a Nani assist, banging it into the side netting as three minutes of extra time were added by the German ref. Immediately afterwards Nuno Gomes (91 min) clawed one back after Maniche set up Simão on the right, the Benfica Captain slapping across an assist for his Luz team-mate to net.

Unfortunately it was a case of too little too late and Poland sealed their first home win – after a defeat to Finland and a draw with Serbia – much to Portuguese chagrin. Scolari will have to make do with three points from the two Euro 2008 games instead of the four he aimed for, but Portugal still have a game in hand.

Poland can celebrate a morale-boosting win, the early brace scored by Smolarek being providential in dismantling Scolari’s men’s confidence in getting either a draw or a win, but never a sour defeat. Nevertheless it’s hardly a disastrous result for Portugal whereas it’s a real lifeline for the Red-and-whites.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark, Germany

Linesmen: Harry Ehing, Volker Wezel (GER)

Venue: Slaski stadium, Chorzow (Poland)

POLAND (2): Kowalewski; Bronowicki, Golanski, Bak and Lewandowski; Blaszczykowski, Smolarek, Sobolewski and Radomski; Zurawski and Rasiak.
Coach: Leo Beenhakker.

Subs: Boruc, Lagiweka, Wasilewski, Krzynowek, Kazmierczak, Matusiak and Frankowski.

PORTUGAL(1): Ricardo; Miguel, Ricardo Carvalho, Ricardo Rocha and Nuno Valente; Costinha and Petit; Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco and Simão; Nuno Gomes.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Subs: Quim, Paulo Ferreira, Caneira, José António, Tiago, Maniche and Nani.


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