Warsaw city centre was an interesting place to be last night. After another lacklustre performance of excruciatingly bad proportions which saw Poland get a draw against hosts Austria, the denizens of Warsaw were surprisingly chirpy singing “Nothing’s happened, nothing’s happened, we still love you Poland”. The 1-1 draw effectively spells the end of the line for both teams as fellow group members Croatia and Germany look likely to progress into the next round.
Poland were dismal in the first half which saw an eager Austria encamped in Poland’s half, battering Polish defences like an irate storm. Poland have goalkeeper Artur Boruc to thank that they didn’t go into half-time 3-0 or 4-0 down. As it happens, they did have Boruc, as well as lucky charm Roger Guerrero who popped up like a Brazilian magician to bag Poland’s first ever goal at the European Championships. Poland went into the break leading 1-0 but never truly deserved it.
Second Half Woes
Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker no doubt gave his players a roasting at half-time and the Poles came out looking more value for their money but Austria were hardly going to give up. Both teams had their chances but every Polish fan would admit that Poland have not yet turned up for the tournament and look a sorry shadow of the team that qualified for the Championships. Ebi Smolarek, Dariusz Dudka and Mariusz Lewandowski who have been so influential in previous games looked lost and ill at ease with the ball. It was end-to-end stuff but both teams looked feeble.
Kick in the Balls
With 90 minutes on the clock Poland looked to have secured a surprise victory but when evil English referee Howard Webb awarded a highly spurious penalty to Austria in the 93rd minute 40 million Polish hearts sunk. Goodness knows what he was thinking and it was without doubt one of the poorest decisions Webb has made in his footballing career, but that is the stuff football is made of and Poland can hardly blame the referee for a terrible performance throughout.
Bye Bye Leo?
The worry now is that the Polish Football Association (PZPN) will make a knee-jerk decision and sack Leo Beenhakker for a pretty dreadful showing at Euro2008, although I think it more likely that Beenhakker will resign. That would spell disaster for the Polish side which has recently managed to pick itself up, dust itself down and begin to play with a better mentality despite Euro2008. On the other hand, Leo Beenhakker is still the only manager at Euro2008 NEVER to have won a game during either the World Cup or European Championships.