Spectacular goal gives Poles night to remember
By Mitch Phillips
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's 1-1 draw with Russia on Tuesday will soon become a mere Euro 2012 footnote but for everyone crammed into to national stadium and millions more watching on TV it was an occasion that will live long in the memory.
Indelibly seared into the collective Polish memory will be the stunning left-footed drive by captain Jakub Blaszczykowski that cancelled out Alan Dzagoyev's 37th-minute header which had looked set to send the Russians through with two wins out of two in Group A.
Captain "Kuba" ensured that what always looked the tightest of groups will go to the final round of fixtures when, after a length-of-the field counter-attack, he cut in from the right and unleashed a spectacular shot into the top corner that would have lifted the stadium roof, had it not been left open this time.
The goal was worthy of the deafening roar that greeted it and raised Polish spirits after the gloom that had settled on the capital hours earlier following clashes between rival fans and police that left at least 10 people injured and led to around 100 arrests.
The politically-charged fixture had always been marked as the most likely to produce trouble and it duly arrived as local fans took exception to thousands of Russian fans joining a set-piece march towards the stadium on their Independence Day.
Thankfully there was no hint of trouble inside the stadium, where supporters sat side by side segregated by no more than a row of empty seats. Instead it was handshakes all round after a breathless match ended with honors even.
Russia remain in the driving seat in the group with four points, going into their final match against Greece. The Czech Republic, who beat Greece 2-1 earlier on Tuesday have three points, Poland two and the Greeks one. A point for Russia would be enough to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals but Poland have to beat the Czechs to advance. Continued...