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Poland vs Northern Ireland a few quick thoughts

  • Northern Ireland’s first major tournament appearance in 30 years was highly anticipated but after all the anticipation the performance on the pitch yesterday evening would have fallen somewhat short
  • Poland dominated the game from the start and deservedly came away with a win and also their first European Championships victory in 7 attempts
  • Credit must go to Michael O’Neill’s side for a spirited defensive display but it was always going to be a big ask to perform like that for 90 minutes
  • Jonny Evans and Robert Lewandowski had a great ongoing duel throughout the game and it must be said that Evans was equal to everything that the Bayern Munich Striker threw at him
  • It was almost 8 at the back at times for Northern Ireland in the first half but in fairness it was resolute and it was foiling everything that Poland threw at them
  • The best chance of the half came from Bartosz Kaputska’s volley, it looked to be arrowing into the net before a magnificent save from Michael McGovern tipped it over the frame of the goal
  • After going into the break at 0-0 the edict from Michael O’ Neill would have been to his players to set yourselves up again for another 45 minutes of this and hope to hit Poland on the counter attack
  • The first 10-15 minutes of the second half were going to be crucial, if they could frustrate Poland even more then the game would then start to open up
  • But O’Neill’s plan fell flat just 6 minutes after the break when Poland finally broke the deadlock
  • Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik’s goal was the difference
  • Milik slotted in after being picked out by Fiorentina’s Jakub Blaszczykowski
  • It was a well worked move with Millik’s effort going through the legs of Craig Cathcart and out of the reach of McGovern’s gloves
  • O’Neill then had to go for it in terms of getting an equaliser
  • Shane Ferguson was bought off in place of Connor Washington, with Washington now supporting the lone figure of Kyle Lafferty up front
  • Lafferty had very little in the game with only an adventurous bicycle kick being any chance of note
  • Try as they might Northern Ireland tried to surge forward but Poland were never really troubled and saw the game out to open their tournament account
  • Was it stage fright for Northern Ireland, did the occasion get the better of them
  • But they won’t have too much time to dwell on things as next up it’s Ukraine where they are going to have to pick up at least a point
  • While Poland take on their old enemies Germany which is always an interesting clash
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