The Puchar returns to Częstochowa!

Marek Papszun’s miracle in Częstochowa shows no sign of stopping, after an enthralling 9-0 minutes at Warsaw’s Stadion Narodowy. In defeating Lech Poznań 3-1, his Raków Częstochowa side secured a second successive Puchar Polski title!

With both finalists still challenging for the Ekstraklasa title, the match at the national stadium was always going to be seen as one which could decide both trophies. Raków – currently ahead of Lech by virtue of their head-to-head record – started in a manner which suggested they wished to control the game from the outset.

Marek Papszun’s instructions worked. After only six minutes they were ahead: Vladimirs Gutkovskis receiving a ball over the top, cutting inside, and firing past Mickey van der Hart in the Lech goal.

After an early periodopf strangulation, Lech did manage to finally assert themselves around the half-an-hour mark, and were perhaps unlucky not to level through Jakub Kamiński, due to some strong defending.

But before Lech could register on the scoresheet, they were dealt another blow. Giving the ball away cheaply, the Kolejorz found themselves on the back foot; and when Ivi Lopez fed an onrushing Mateusz Wdowiak, there looked only one outcome. One-on-one with van der Hart, he fired comfortably past the keeper – his second cup final goal, having scored the winner for Cracovia against Lechia Gdańsk, two years earlier.

Raków’s failure to extend their lead further, through Sorescu before the break, gave Lech a chance to emerge after half-time still with the game not totally out of their reach. With a slight sense of nervousness the Czerwono-niebiescy defence failed to deal with a small amount of pressure, and Dawid Kownacki’s volley was diverted into the net by Joao Amaral; reducing the deficit with plenty of time remaining on the clock.

Through the final half-an-hour, both sides flicked back-and-forth between periods of pressure and submission, and could have swung the game their way. Zoran Arsenić headed just wide for Raków, whilst on a few occasions, Mikael Ishak warned the holders that the trophy wasn’t theirs just yet.

Yet, with fourteen minutes remaining, the game’s star player, Ivi López, gave Raków a lead which they would not surrender. The Spaniard combined with Fran Tudor around the Lech box, and the ex-Levante striker tucked under the legs of a defender and out of the reach of van der Hart.

López’s substitution just a few minutes later saw him receive a thunderous ovation from the Raków fans in the south stand; and even the dismissal of his replacement Jakub Arak, only three minutes after his introduction for a terrible foul, couldn’t spoil their day.

The second successive Puchar Polski victory seems merely to be just another chapter in an incredible spell for the relatively small club from Częstochowa, and a manager which has become regarded as one of the most revered in Polish football.

Since Marek Papszun’s appointment in 2016, Raków have been promoted from the II Liga (third tier) to the Ekstraklasa, and finished as runners-up in only their second season back in the top flight. He has now lifted the Puchar Polski twice, as well as this season’s Superpuchar; and faces a final three league games to try to secure the club a first-ever Polish championship ahead of their defeated rivals Lech.

Lech Poznań – Raków Częstochowa 1-3 (0-2)

Joao Amaral 52′ – Vladislavs Gutkovskis 6′, Mateusz Wdowiak 36′, Ivi López 76′

Lech: Mickey van der Hart – Joel Pereira (Joao Amaral 46′), Lubomir Satka, Antonio Milić, Pedro Rebocho – Radosław Murawski (Pedro Tiba 73′), Jesper Karlstrom (Nika Kvekveskiri 84′) – Michał Skoras, Dawid Kownacki (Adriel Ba Loua 73′), Jakub Kamiński (Filip Marchwiński 76′) – Mikael Ishak.

Raków: Kacper Trelowski – Fran Tudor, Tomas Petrasek, Zoran Arsenić – Deian Sorescu (Wiktor Długosz 46′), Giannis Papanikolaou, Ben Lederman, Patryk Kun – Mateusz Wdowiak (Andrzej Niewulis 72′), Vladislavs Gutkovskis (Sebastian Musiolik 72′), Ivi López (Jakub Arak 83′).

Yellow cards: Pedro Rebocho 57′. Michał Skoras 62′, Antonio Milić 89′ – Mateusz Wdowiak 43′.

Red card: Jakub Arak 86′


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