Two-goal lead thrown away, but Poland hang on for a point

(photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

A five-minute lapse in concentration saw Poland throw away a two-goal lead in Rotterdam on Saturday evening. Czesław Michniewicz’s second string then needed to rely on some stoic defending and a stroke of luck to earn a point against their Dutch hosts.

A Memphis Depay missed penalty, followed by an injury time wonder save from Łukasz Skorupski earned a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands.

Following their 6-1 hammering in Brussels, Czesław Michniewicz named a much-changed line-up just across the border in Rotterdam. Kamil Glik, Tymoteusz Puchacz and Szymon Żurkowski all dropped to the bench, while Bartłomiej Drągowski and Robert Lewandowski were left out of the squad altogether. The coach opting to rotate his gargantuan squad as much as possible, with yet another game on the horizon.

In their places, Skorupski was selected as the third goalkeeper in three games; Matty Cash, Przemysław Frankowski, Nicola Zalewski and Krzysztof Piątek made their first starts of the international gathering; and there was an international debut given to Jakub Kiwior at centre-back. There were also returns to the starting eleven for Jacek Góralski and Bartosz Bereszyński.

While the Polish fans were clearly winning the battle in the stands, early exchanges saw the Dutchmen look the more threatening. Skorupski was tested on several occasions, and the impressive debutant Kiwior made a handful of strong challenges as the visiting defence came under pressure.

But, like against Belgium, it was the Poles who took the lead just before the twenty-minute mark. A searching cross-field ball from Zalewski found the marauding Matty Cash; and when Daley Blind gave him time to advance towards the box, the Villa man created enough space to get his right-footed shot away, which settled in the far corner of Mark Flekken’s net. A maiden international goal that was celebrated with gusto by the Slough-born wing-back.

As did the Belgians, the Oranje also used the opening goal to spur them into action; however, several chances were wasted. Both Davy Klaassen and Jurrien Timber failed to hit the target from close range, while a flick of Góralski’s shin was enough to distract Denzel Dumfries in front of goal. Despite large spells camped inside the Polish half, the Białe-Orły back line remained resilient enough to prevent the hosts from cutting through before the break.

The Poles then got off to a flying start in the second period. Within four minutes, Piotr Zieliński had doubled the visitors’ lead; Piątek beating the offside trap, and through on goal with Zieliński, he played in the Napoli midfielder for a simple tap-in.

But, within five minutes, the Polish lead had evaporated.

First, Blind played a cross which was fired home by Davy Klaassen. Then, straight from the kick-off, Ake played a searching ball over the top to Bergwijn; he laid it to Depay, who flicked on to the advancing Dumfries. The Inter player’s deflected strike looked to initially have been chalked off for offside in the build-up, but after a long delay VAR eventually overruled the assistant.

Netherlands continued to pummel the Polish goal for the remainder of the match, and in the closing minutes of regulation time were handed their golden chance to complete their turnaround. Depay’s header tested the quick reactions of Skorupski; and when his impressive save rebounded off of the knuckles of goalscorer Cash, VAR once again was called into action – this time in favour of the hosts. Depay himself took the penalty in the 91st minute, and smashed his effort off of the post – despite having sent the Bologna custodian the wrong way.

Finally, with the seven added minutes running out, the impressive Skorupski won Poland their point with another strong save – again from the head of the Barcelona frontman.

The point – and the Poles’ best result against the Dutch since 1992 – keeps Michniewicz’s side third in their Nations League group, level on four points with Tuesday’s opponents Belgium.

Netherlands – Poland 2:2 (0:1)

Matty Cash 19′, Piotr Zieliński 49′ – Davy Klaassen 51, Denzel Dumfries 56′

Netherlands: Mark Flekken – Jurrien Timber (Jordan Teze 65′), Stefan De Vrij, Nathan Ake – Denzel Dumfries, Steven Berghuis (Teun Koopmeiners 65′), Davy Klaassen (Cody Gakpo 65′), Frenkie De Jong, Daley Blind – Steven Bergwijn (Wout Weghorst 77′), Memphis Depay.

Poland: Łukasz Skorupski – Matty Cash, Jan Bednarek, Jakub Kiwior, Bartosz Bereszyński – Przemysław Frankowski (Kamil Glik 84′), Jacek Góralski (Szymon Żurkowski 58′), Grzegorz Krychowiak, Nicola Zalewski – Piotr Zieliński – Krzysztof Piątek.

Yellow Cards: Krychowiak, Bednarek, Skorupski, Zieliński, Żurkowski – Berghuis, Bergwijn, De Jong


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