Inspired Austria get a big win over Poland | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Inspired Austria get a big win over Poland

Jun 22, 2024 12:05 AM IST

Austria defeated Poland 3-1 to keep their hopes alive of reaching the Round of 16 in the European Championships.

Two goals of sublime skill and beauty looked enough to earn Austria a win in an entertaining Group D match against Poland on Friday when, as a cherry on top, a third was added to seal the deal beyond any doubt.

Austria's Marko Arnautovic , center, is embraced by teammates after scoring a goal during a Group D match against Poland.(AP)
Austria's Marko Arnautovic , center, is embraced by teammates after scoring a goal during a Group D match against Poland.(AP)

Austria started the match very well and took complete control of the proceedings even before Poland could find their feet. This early pressure intensified even further when Austrian centre-half Gernot Trauner nodded home, after just nine minutes, from eight yards out with a header of rare quality.

He contorted his body and angled it into the top left-hand of Wojciech Szczesny’s goal. As far as starts go, it couldn’t have got better. It was also Austria’s fastest ever goal at the Euros, and fastest at a major tournament since the 1954 World Cup.

But the Poles slowly warmed up to the task at hand and in the 30th minute had reward for intent with a composed Kryzsztof Piatek placing it past Patrick Pentz in the Austria goal.

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Both teams went into half-time level at 1-1 but Austria once again were the team that came out looking like they wanted the win more. All-time leading scorer Robert Lewandowski was introduced by Poland in the second half, but it didn’t really have much of an impact on the game.

Christoph Baumgartner gave Austria the lead again in the 66th minute thanks to a lovely Marko Arnautovic dummy. He ran onto the through ball, sent the keeper the wrong way before finishing in style.

It was an example of what Arnautovic can bring to the table — a little touch of magic. But then a little later, we saw the other side of the maverick who picked up a yellow for just randomly shoving an opposition player aside.

The goal, however, seemed to have made Austria even more pacy and Poland were simply unable to keep up. If 2-1 still felt a little unsafe, Sabitzer earned a penalty for his side when he was brought down by Szczesny, who caught him on the ankle as he dived at his feet.

Arnautovic sent Szczesney the wrong way, slotting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, to make it 3-1 and seal their first win of the tournament.

Coach Ralf Rangnick, who stayed with the team despite interest from Bayern Munich, got his tactics right and Austria’s mixture of hard running, fast transitions and high pressing proved to be too much for Poland.

Austria had been impressive in the first game (against France) as well but with heavyweights France and Netherlands also part of the group, this was a match they absolutely had to win and they did that with a performance that should hold them in good stead no matter the opposition.

Either way, the final group game will be crucial for them but for now, they have earned the right to dream of making it to the Round of 16.

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