Milan Skriniar strike earns Slovakia victory over 10-man Poland

Milan Skriniar scored the winner as Slovakia stunned Poland (AP)
19:08pm, Mon 14 Jun 2021
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Milan Skriniar struck a superb winner as Slovakia stunned 10-man Poland 2-1 in their Euro 2020 opener in St Petersburg.

The Inter Milan defender netted after 69 minutes soon after Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak had been sent off for a second bookable offence in a tight Group E contest.

Prior to that dismissal, Poland had been in the ascendancy after Karol Linetty cancelled out a first-half Slovakia strike that was credited as a Wojciech Szczesny own goal.

Russia Poland Slovakia Euro 2020 Soccer (AP)

Slovakia enjoyed the better of the first half and they went ahead after 18 minutes when Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny got the final touch after a clever run and strike on to the post from Robert Mak.

With Marek Hamsik and Ondrej Duda confidently spraying passes around the field, Slovakia grew in confidence after Poland failed to make any of their good early possession count.

Poland were given a warning when Duda cut inside from the left and shot into the side-netting.

The opener came from a similar route as Mak also cut inside, forced Kamil Jozwiak to back off and then nutmegged Piotr Zielinski. He fired in a low shot which took a slight deflection off Kamil Glik, struck the base of the near post and rebounded in off Szczesny.

That own goal maintained the former Arsenal keeper’s unfortunate sequence in the opening matches of European Championships, having been sent off in 2012 and injured in 2016.

Poland tried to respond with Maciej Rybus having a shot blocked, but Slovakia threatened more, with Juraj Kucka sending a dipping shot just over and then heading at Szczesny.

Poland ended the first half well, but Slovakia keeper Martin Dubravka was not tested as Krychowiak, Zielinski and Robert Lewandowski all missed the target.

Slovakia eventually succumbed as Poland equalised at the start of the second period.

Showing more urgency after a team talk from coach Paulo Sousa, the Poles broke with speed and cut open the Slovak defence with some slick passing. Rybus picked out Linetty from the byline and the Torino midfielder turned in from close range.

Grzegorz Krychowiak's second yellow card proved costly for Poland (AP)

Poland stepped up the pressure, with Linetty shooting at Dubravka, Glik heading over and Lewandowski hitting a free-kick into the wall.

But the balance of the game changed again just after the hour when Krychowiak received a second yellow card for fouling Jakub Hromada.

Slovakia took advantage of their extra man and soon reclaimed the lead following a corner. Skriniar did superbly to stretch and bring the ball down, turn and score with a sweetly-struck low shot.

Poland applied considerable late pressure in search of a second equaliser, but Tymoteusz Puchacz, Lewandowski and Jan Bednarek all missed the target when well placed.

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