Germany shoot down gutsy Poles 1-0
Neuville rifled a late winner in injury time to give hosts 2nd successive win. Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | GamesUpdated: Jun 15, 2006 03:01 IST
Germany grabbed a late winner to defeat gutsy Poland 1-0 thanks to an Oliver Neuville goal in injury time in a tense, bruising Group A encounter on Wednesday.
The hosts, looking for a second successive win, had a series of chances and hit the bar twice through Miroslav Klose and captain Michael Ballack in a desperate late attempt to score.
Just when it looked as if they would have to settle for a draw Neuville popped up in the area to score the winner and leave Germany top of the group with six points from two wins.
Poland, who played the last 15 minutes with 10 men, battled gamely against their near neighbours but were left heartbroken by Germany's last-gasp goal.
The Poles, who succumbed weakly 2-0 to Ecuador in their opener, battled manfully but never looked like scoring and with one group game left face another first round exit. It was a World Cup occasion to savour as the two sets of fans in the 65,000 capacity stadium produced a wall of noise.
Poland, who had not beaten their neighbours and fierce rivals in 14 attempts spanning 85 years, snapped into the tackle at every opportunity in a high-paced opening.
However Germany had much the better of the first half.
Miroslav Klose, who scored twice in Germany's 4-2 victory over Costa Rica in the tournament's opening match, should have had his third when he glanced a header just wide from a Philipp Lahm cross after 21 minutes. Lukas Podolski, like Klose Polish-born, then put the ball in exactly the same place in first half injury time after another Lahm cross and the chance went begging.
Poland, desperate to avoid a second successive first round exit, showed plenty of aggression but there was a lack of quality about their attacks and they rarely threatened.
After a low-key start, Ballack, who missed the first game with a calf strain, gradually began to exert an influence with his probing passes forcing the Poles to defend ever more desperately. It became even tougher for them in the last 15 minutes when Radoslaw Sobolewski was sent off for a second booking.
Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc made two outstanding saves to deny Lahm and Neuville in a furious finale.
But he could nothing to keep out Neuville's smartly taken goal that gave Germany their first tournament win over European opposition since beating Czech Republic in the Euro 96 final.
First Published: Jun 15, 2006 03:01 IST