14 October 2014 23:21
Poland failed to build on a famous victory over Germany as they battled hard for a 2-2 draw with Scotland in Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier.
The home fans had barely finished celebrating Saturday’s famous 2-0 triumph over their world champion neighbours when Krzysztof Maczynski fired in off the right-hand post after 12 minutes, prolonging the feel-good factor at the Stadion Narodowy.
However, Shaun Maloney brought Adam Nawalka’s men back down to earth with a bump when he equalised with a neat finish from 12 yards.
After Poland had looked the more likely to find the net in the early part of the second period, Steven Naismith got the deftest of touches to a James Morrison free-kick to put Scotland ahead.
But it was the home side who had the final word, with Arkadiusz Milik – a thorn in the side of the Scottish defence throughout the second half – firing in a superb left-footed effort in the 76th minute to ensure a share of the spoils.
The result sees Poland remain top of Group D on goal difference ahead of the Republic of Ireland, who drew 1-1 with Germany.
Gordon Strachan made two changes to the Scotland side that earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Georgia, with Gordon Greer and Steven Whittaker coming in for Grant Hanley and Andrew Robertson, while Ikechi Anya won his race to be fit for the clash.
Poland brought Artur Jedrzejczyk, Waldemar Sobota and Maczynski in for Jakub Wawrzyniak, Maciej Rybus and the injured Tomasz Jedlowiec, and one of those changes paid dividends as the hosts broke the deadlock in the 12th minute.
Maczynski pounced on an Alan Hutton error, as the Scotland defender failed to clear, to send a low effort in off the right-hand post.
That joy was shortlived, however, as Steven Fletcher found Anya with a wonderful angled long ball over the top before the Watford man squared it to Maloney, who guided home from a central position in the penalty area, with marker Lukasz Szukala in no man’s land.
Sobota caused alarm in the Scottish defence in the 24th minute when he narrowly failed to get his head to a dangerous cross from the left, but there was considerably less panic at the other end when Fletcher dragged an optimistic effort well wide of the target.
Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall carelessly dashed off his line seven minutes before the break, leaving Whittaker to make a vital interception after Sobota had evaded Hutton to almost tee up Milik for a simple finish.
The home side made a bright start to the second half, with Milik hooking over from an early corner before Scott Brown cut out a Kamil Grosicki cross after the attacker had made a marauding run down the right.
But it was Scotland who made the breakthrough when Naismith diverted Morrison’s free-kick just inside the right-hand upright from close-range three minutes before the hour.
Poland continued to look the most threatening after Naismith’s strike, with Milik heading onto the roof of the net from a cross, before then seeing a low ball from the left roll agonisingly out of the reach of a poised Robert Lewandowski.
Maloney forced Wojciech Szczesny to push over his crossbar with a powerful effort in the 75th minute, but Milik finally got his reward a minute later.
Played in brilliantly by Jedrzejczyk, the 20-year-old – scorer of Poland’s first goal against the Germans on Saturday – sent a sublime first-time left-footed strike beyond a helpless Marshall.
The goalkeeper was alert to the danger soon afterwards when Lewandowski tried his luck from a similar position, before Grzegorz Krychowiak headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
Sebastian Mila – who scored the other against Germany – hit the post late on, but Scotland held on for an important and hard-fought point.