Euro 2016 qualifying: Poland's euphoria dampened by Scottish resistance
Poland`s fairytale triumph over Germany was quickly overtaken by a touch of anti-climax in Warsaw on Tuesday as they found themselves held to a 2-2 draw by Scotland in a pulsating Euro 2016 qualifier.
Warsaw: Poland`s fairytale triumph over Germany was quickly overtaken by a touch of anti-climax in Warsaw on Tuesday as they found themselves held to a 2-2 draw by Scotland in a pulsating Euro 2016 qualifier.
A pumped up crowd had expected more of the same from their new heroes in the National Stadium following the historic 2-0 win over the world champions but had to watch them come from behind to earn a point with a 76th minute goal from Arkadiusz Milik.
In the dying minutes, Poland poured forward and another memorable triumph looked on the cards as Kamil Grosicki hit the post and Robert Lewandowski forced a terrific save from David Marshall.
Yet Scotland, who had won a friendly in this same stadium in March, held on stoutly, once again looking like a rejuvenated side under Gordon Strachan`s stewardship.
The manner in which they rebounded from the early setback of Krzysztof Maczynski`s 11th minute goal, scoring twice through Shaun Maloney and Steven Naismith and counter-attacking with some pace and guile in such a febrile atmosphere bodes well for the rest of their campaign in the now delicately-poised Group D.
"Told you it was the hardest group," said Strachan. "And we must cope with the level of stress."
The Scotland manager admitted he felt a little disappointed that his side had only ended with the one point but added: "I`m pleased with a lot of things and I think it was a terrific game."
His Polish counterpart Adam Nawalka was also struck by the competitive nature of the group. "It seems to be very difficult and each game is an another war," he said.
The stadium, still buzzing from the Germany game, was quickly back in full voice after an uncharacteristically sloppy piece of defending from Alan Hutton gifted Poland the lead.
Instead of a full blooded clearance, the Aston Villa full back feebly prodded the ball straight to the feet of Maczynski, whose shot struck the base of the post and rolled into the net.
Within seven minutes, Scotland were back on terms after a superbly-worked goal.
The excellent Steven Fletcher spun with back to goal to deliver a lovely crossfield ball to Ikechi Anya on the left edge of the Polish box and his pinpoint cross brought a finely-delivered sidefoot finish from Wigan`s Maloney.
Scotland did not look overawed, repelling Poland`s tame attacks and looking dangerous on the counter.
After the break though, Poland began more threateningly and it felt a surprise when James Morrison pumped forward a wickedly testing free-kick, only for Naismith to sneak in from the back post in the 57th minute and find the slightest flick to beat Wojciech Szczesny.
Poland redoubled their efforts and after creating some decent chances, there was no argument about the quality of their equaliser as Milik smashed the ball home after being fed by Artur Jedrzejczyk`s lovely pass inside Hutton.