Penalty Pain – Euro 2008

Soccer ball over blue sky

The Poles could do nothing right in an appalling first period that had thousands of Poland fans groaning into their beer in pubs across the country.

Nobody was denying at half-time that Roger’s goal was a mile offside – he was goalside of the last man, never mind the second last.

But, as has become familiar with Beenhakker’s side, somehow they found their way. Austria barely got out of their half for 20 minutes after the interval, and Marek Saganowski, Guerreiro and Ebi Smolarek several times looked like helping the Poles steal a second.

In truth, this is not a great Polish team.

They were overawed for 40 minutes here and it seems unlikely that they can deal with a Croatian side who made monkeys out of Germany an hour earlier.

But they are nothing if not workmanlike and on balance deserved the win here. Lewandowski and Dariusz Dudka are a hard, fast wall in the middle of the park, while Boruc has yet to make a mistake at this World Cup and saved the Poles after two hairline offside decisions had played in Austrian forwards in the first 20 minutes.

The lack of a second goal here, however, may hurt. If Austria fail to hold Germany, Poland must beat an excellent Croatian side comprehensively to advance. A tall order.

New Warsaw Express