Football: European Championship knockout for Poland despite Lewandowski’s return

Football: European Championship knockout for Poland despite Lewandowski’s return
Football: European Championship knockout for Poland despite Lewandowski’s return

The superstar was substituted on, but his team was unable to score a point. Things got even worse for the Poles that evening.

Poland’s superstar Robert Lewandowski put his hands on his hips in disappointment after the second defeat in the second game of the European Football Championship and stared into space for a long time. A few hours later, his team’s elimination from Group D was official.

After the 0-0 draw between France and the Netherlands in Leipzig this evening, Lewandowski and his team can no longer jump into one of the top three places that would allow them to reach the knockout round.

The Poles themselves had previously lost their match against Austria in Berlin 1:3 (1:1). The superstar, who came on after an hour and made a lightning comeback after recovering from a torn muscle, could not prevent the defeat.

“I Am From Austria” was the song the Austrian fans sang to Rainhard Fendrich’s classic after the game. Coach Ralf Rangnick cheered energetically. The Alpine republic now has a good chance of reaching the round of 16.

Austrians defy the pressure

Gernot Trauner put Austria in the lead in the 9th minute with the fastest goal scored by the Alpine Republic at the European Championships. Former Hertha player Krzysztof Piatek, who was allowed to play in the starting eleven instead of Lewandowski, equalized after half an hour at his old stomping ground. When Lewandowski was on the field, Leipzig’s Christoph Baumgartner (66th) and captain Marko Arnautović (78th, penalty) secured the Austrians’ victory.

“There was a lot of pressure today,” said Baumgartner, who was named player of the match. “I think that when we are at our maximum, it is very difficult to play against us and we have to manage that. Now we have to get ourselves into top physical shape so that we can hold our own and then we can annoy and beat the Dutch.”

70 minutes before kick-off, the somewhat surprising news leaked out that Lewandowski was not fit enough to start. The most recent statements from those in charge had suggested that the 35-year-old ex-Bayern player could start in the final European Championship test against Turkey eleven days after tearing a muscle fiber in his thigh.

Lewandowski gives tips on the bench

For Austria’s coach Ralf Rangnick, this apparently did not change anything tactically. “We didn’t talk about it at all,” said the German coach on ARD shortly before kick-off. He wanted to stay true to his aggressive style of play despite the 0-1 defeat in the opening match against France: “Our best breaker is our counter-pressing.”

And that’s exactly how Rangnick’s team started. The Austrians, led by record international player Marko Arnautović, attacked the Poles aggressively in their half and followed up consistently when they took the lead. After a cross from the eye-catching Mainz player Phillipp Mwene, the advancing defender Trauner headed the ball into the corner. Lewandowski looked worried on the bench and later whispered something in the assistant coach’s ear.

The 0:1 was a wake-up call for the Poles. They were now better able to free themselves from the constant pressure of their opponents and also had notable chances. The equalizer by Piatek from close range was absolutely deserved. The attacker celebrated his goal with his pistol celebration, which he had shown far too rarely in the Hertha jersey at the Olympic Stadium. Lewandowski also celebrated on the sidelines.

Lewandowski substitution causes cheers

The Austrians, who had been so dominant at the start, suddenly became unsettled. There was a wealth of experience on the pitch, with an average age of 28 years and 217 days, according to data provider Opta, Austria’s oldest starting lineup in a European Championship finals match. Marcel Sabitzer did make a few more impressions at the end of the first half. But Poland had a great chance to take the lead with a free kick from substitute captain Piotr Zielinski, which ÖFB goalkeeper Patrick Pentz saved.

Rangnick reacted and brought on Patrick Wimmer from Wolfsburg, a more offensive midfielder, for Florian Grillitsch from TSG Hoffenheim. But initially there was little attacking action on either side. In addition, goalscorer Trauner had to leave the field in the 59th minute due to injury.

The substitution of superstar Lewandowski caused huge cheers among the approximately 35,000 Polish fans. In one of his first actions, the captain received a yellow card for using his elbow in an aerial challenge with Freiburg’s Philipp Lienhart.

But things got even worse for the former Munich player. After Baumgartner fell behind again, the Poles increased the pressure and looked for their top star, especially with long balls. The decision in Austria’s favor came after an early ball win and a foul by Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on Sabitzer in the penalty area.

Source: Stern

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