Scotland take a point in Warsaw


Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Scotland had to settle for a 2-2 European Championship qualifying draw in Warsaw after coming from behind to threaten a famous win against a Poland side fresh from victory over world champions Germany.

The Poles looked set to build on their historic triumph when Krzysztof Maczynski fired them into an 11th-minute lead following a mistake by Alan Hutton.

But Shaun Maloney finished off an excellent move seven minutes later and Scotland took a second-half lead when Steven Naismith flicked home James Morrison’s long free-kick.

However, Arkadiusz Milik atoned for some earlier misses when he fired home with 14 minutes left after Hutton was caught out again.

Scotland were ultimately grateful for the Group D point after surviving a late barrage that saw Kamil Grosicki hit the post.

Although the Scots had more than their fair share of possession, Poland carved out the bulk of the chances.

The point makes it a good week’s work for Gordon Strachan, who sprung a pre-match surprise when he brought in Steven Whittaker at left-back to replace Andrew Robertson, who had impressed in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Georgia.

With Ikechi Anya overcoming a calf strain, that meant two changes as Gordon Greer came in as expected for Grant Hanley, who suffered a knee injury at Ibrox.

Greer had played in a 1-0 friendly win in this same Stadion Narodowy in March, when the hosts were without star man Robert Lewandowski.

Scotland started well on this occasion but the Poles, who made three changes, accepted a gift to take the lead.

Hutton had time and space to deal with a misplaced pass on the edge of his box but he took a heavy touch and gifted a free shot to Maczynski, who fired in off the post from inside the ‘D’.

But Scotland did not allow the hosts to continue their momentum and equalised with a goal of supreme quality.

Steven Fletcher opened Poland up with a brilliant crossfield ball to Anya, who killed it instantly and cut the ball back for Maloney. The Wigan player side-footed a first-time finish from 12 yards which just squeezed past the hand of the diving Wojciech Szczesny.

Scotland survived some nervy moments just after the equaliser. David Marshall fumbled both an ambitious strike from Grosicki and the midfielder’s resulting corner, before Waldemar Sobota just failed to connect with a dangerous ball across the face of goal that had Whittaker scrambling.

But Strachan’s men looked composed on the ball inside the Polish half and kept possession for decent spells without creating any more first-half chances.

They were almost caught out before the break though when Hutton was beaten by a ball inside him. Subota slipped the ball past the onrushing Marshall and towards Lewandowski but Greer managed to clear.

Milik missed two good chances in the opening two minutes of the second half, first miskicking after good skill inside the box from Lukasz Piszczek and then steering the ball over following Kamil Glik’s header.

The visitors survived another scare when Scott Brown cleared a near-post cross after Grosicki appeared to foul Anya when the Watford winger initially foiled a counter-attack.

The Poles had stepped up a gear and looked dangerous on every attack but they were stunned in the 57th minute after Maloney won a free-kick 10 yards inside the Poland half.

Morrison floated the ball towards the back post and Naismith peeled off Piszczek before getting the deftest of touches to guide it just inside the post from six yards.

The unmarked Milik headed over from similar range and Lewandowski was inches away from getting his toe on the end of his strike partner’s low cross as the Poles hit back.

Strachan brought on Darren Fletcher and Derby striker Chris Martin for Naismith and Steven Fletcher with 20 minutes left.

Manchester United midfielder Fletcher started a sweeping move that ended with Szczesny pushing over Maloney’s powerful strike following an Anya cross.

But Poland were soon level. Left-back Artur Jedrzejczyk brought down a crossfield ball and played a pass inside Hutton for Milik to run on to and fire an angled drive past Marshall.

Lewandowski then produced some brilliant skill in a similar position but Marshall dived to push his drive wide.

Grzegorz Krychowiak headed wide from a corner seconds later and Poland ramped up the pressure.

But the Scots had luck on their side after substitute Sebastian Mila opened them up with a brilliant dribble and pass. Grosicki took the ball round Marshall but hit the post and Mila fired the rebound wide.

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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