Poland – Sweden
Tables as per morning of October 25 1989:
(It must be remembered that only the two best runners-up from these three groups will qualify for Italy ’90)
1 Denmark 5 3 2 0 14-3 8
2 Romania 5 3 1 1 7-4 7
3 Bulgaria 5 1 1 3 6-7 3
4 Greece 5 0 2 3 2-15 2
1 Holland 5 3 2 0 5-2 8
2 West Germany 5 2 3 0 11-2 7
3 Finland 5 1 1 3 4-13 3
4 Wales 5 0 2 3 3-6 2
Poland had only been able to draw at home to England two weeks earlier, and this meant they were left without even a theoretical chance to reach next year’s World Cup. They still had to travel to Albania for the final match of the group, but here they were able to gain only their second win of the qualifiers, and in doing so they could assist either Romania or Sweden’s near neighbours Denmark, who were both staring down the barrel of a gun in group 1: with the match between Romania and Denmark still to come, it did look unlikely that both of these would qualify for the World Cup. In fact, only a home win for the Polish could present such an alternative, as this would leave the Swedes on eight points. An interesting scenario could be if Sweden got beat 1-0 in Chorzów, followed by a 0-0 draw between Romania and Denmark. This would leave the Romanians and the Swedes equal on points and on goal difference. What then, FIFA? As the table shows, the West Germans are also in need of points in their final match, but they are at home to Wales, and will be expected to win. Holland would have Finland visiting in their final match. Therefore, one could not rely on the second team in this group finishing on anything less than nine points.
Poland’s manager, Andrzej Strejlau, had picked three players for the match against England that had not participated in any of their previous three matches under Wojciech Łazarek, though only one of these had come from his former club Legia: sweeper Kaczmarek. Mr Strejlau will not have felt the need to change much about his team, as their performance against the English only two weeks earlier, especially during a dominant first half, had been good. This meant that two players would have started all of Poland’s five qualifying matches to date: forward K Warzycha and today’s captain Wdowcyk. The manager obviously saw the latter as the player most fit to wear the armband. Wdowczyk is a tall, imposing left-sided defender also capable of playing a bit, and he’s possibly been the most consistent performer in a team which has sadly not been able to challenge for a qualification berth. They had been without the service of 24 year old midfielder Rudy, whose only appearance during the qualifiers had come in the opening match at home to Albania. After moving abroad to play for Köln in the West German Bundesliga, it was rumoured that his heart was no longer with the national team. So his absence could well have been just as much the manager’s decision not to pick him. Yet Poland seemed to cry out for a Spielführer. Mr Strejlau could only hope that Tarasiewicz would continue the promise he had shown during the first half against England. However, the midfielder based in Switzerland also had a bit of a reputation for being a volatile character, and so he did appear to be a dubious player to rest your strategy on.
Sweden had shipped ten goals in two summer friendlies against Denmark and France, and had been looking a bit shaky going into their final three qualifying matches. However, they had looked solid enough when playing out their scoreless draw against the English, and then they did what had been expected of them and won against Albania, despite going behind early on. They realized they could take nothing for granted, even if a defeat didn’t necessarily have to put them out of contention for a World Cup place, but a draw would guarantee Mr Nordin’s men passage through to the tournament in Italy, which would be their first World Cup participation since the games in Argentina in ’78.
Only 17 days had passed since the win against the lowly Albanians, and the manager again felt the need to make changes to his wide men in midfield. Both of these positions had seemed to cause Mr Nordin some concern throughout the qualifiers, and whereas Gren and Limpar had been playing right and left respectively against Albania, he would return to Engqvist and J Nilsson for the visit to southern Poland. They were the two who had started in the home match against the English, and left flank J Nilsson would indeed be making his fifth starting appearance out of six. Engqvist had come on and notched the third and final goal in their last outing. He was probably seen as a more secure bet than the more attacking Gren, whilst it remains unclear as to why the manager had picked J Nilsson ahead of Limpar, who had shown some promise against Albania. Other than that Sweden were identical, with one cosmetic difference only: Thern had reverted to the number 7 shirt, with Ingesson back to 8, like had been seen against the English. They had swapped for the visit of Albania. There was no space at all for Strömberg, whilst another central midfielder, Everton’s Stefan Rehn, once again was an omission. Oddly, Strömberg had only made two starting appearances during the qualification. Ingesson would start his third successive match, something which clearly showed the faith that Mr Nordin had in the tall IFK Gothenburg midfielder.
Referee was 36 year old East German Wieland Ziller, making his international debut. Even if he did not have to travel very far, it did seem like a tall order to officiate in a match which would decide World Cup fates.
7-3-7 read their head to head. The Swedish had obviously won their previous encounter, when that late, late goal by substitute Niclas Larsson gave them the elusive 2-1 goal in Stockholm back in May. On Polish soil, the visitors had not won since a 6-2 (!) win back in 1925, some 64 years earlier.
|1 Jarosław Bako||25||Zagłębie Lubin|
|2 Piotr Czachowski||22||Stal Mielec|
|3 Zbigniew Kaczmarek||27||Legia Warszawa|
|4 Dariusz Wdowczyk (c)||27||Legia Warszwaw|
|5 Robert Warzycha||sub 68′||26||Górnik Zabrze|
|6 Janusz Nawrocki||sub 83′||28||Katowice|
|7 Ryszard Tarasiewicz||27||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|8 Roman Kosecki||23||Legia Warszawa|
|9 Krzysztof Warzycha||24||Ruch Chorzów|
|10 Dariusz Dziekanowski||27||Celtic|
|11 Jacek Ziober||23||ŁKS Łódź|
|12 Janusz Jojko||29||Katowice|
|13 Janusz Góra||on 83′||26||Śląsk Wrocław|
|14 Juliusz Kruszankin||24||Legia Warszawa|
|15 Dariusz Kubicki||on 68′||26||Legia Warszawa|
|16 Piotr Soczyński||22||Olimpia Poznań|
|1 Thomas Ravelli||30||IFK Göteborg|
|2 Roland Nilsson||25||IFK Göteborg|
|3 Glenn Hysén (c)||29||Liverpool|
|4 Peter Larsson||28||Ajax|
|5 Roger Ljung||23||Young Boys|
|6 Leif Engqvist||27||Malmö FF|
|7 Jonas Thern||22||Benfica|
|8 Klas Ingesson||sub 71′||21||IFK Göteborg|
|9 Joakim Nilsson||23||Malmö FF|
|10 Johnny Ekström||sub 82′||24||Cannes|
|11 Mats Magnusson||36′||26||Benfica|
|12 Sven Andersson||26||Örgryte|
|13 Stefan Schwarz||20||Malmö FF|
|14 Niclas Nylén Larsson||on 71′||23||Malmö FF|
|15 Anders Limpar||24||Cremonese|
|16 Stefan Lindqvist||on 82′||22||Halmstad|
The home side grouped like they had done against the English in their previous outing, with individual player instructions much the same as well. However, Czachowski was not quite so attacking as he had been in Poland’s previous match, and he left the attacking bit to other players. The home side’s forward three were originally positioned as seen on the tactics board, but they would also swap places whenever it suited them, although Dziekanowski would predominantly be seen down the middle, and again he would offer himself somewhat deep in the build-up of attacks.
For Sweden, the four defenders focused mainly on defending, even if either full-back did venture across the halfway line from time to time. One particular tactical feature which had been seen for the Swedish in the home tie against the Polish, was the right-sided midfielder’s desire to come inside. This time it was Engqvist who was not afraid to abandon his original territory in order to aid Thern and Ingesson in the central areas, leaving space for R Nilsson to attack the right flank. He only did so sparingly, as Mr Nordin felt a cautious approach was more appropriate in a seemingly difficult away fixture. However, there were periods of six-seven minutes in both halves where Engqvist and Ingesson had swapped places. In the second half, this period would last until Ingesson was replaced by N Larsson, a much more natural wide-midfielder than both Engqvist and Ingesson. Ingesson had again originally been prefered as Thern’s partner in central midfield, and what the tall blonde brings to the Swedish side is deep runs from midfield. This helps create an unbalance in the opponents’ defence, something which they were hoping the two strikers could take advantage of. Sweden were also keen to exploit the individual trickery from left-sided midfielder J Nilsson, and he was involved a lot in their play throughout the game.
Both sides made full use of their substitution opportunities, with Kubicki replacing R Warzycha in a straight swap along the right hand side of midfield, whereas debutant Góra came on for Nawrocki, though he took over for Ziober on the left hand side of midfield, with the Polish number 11 moving inside and into the position left vacant by Nawrocki in central midfield. For the away team, N Larsson came on for Ingesson, prompting a more permanent move in field by original right flank Engqvist, with N Larsson himself taking the flank role. Lindqvist was a straight replacement for Ekström.
Kick-off was Sweden’s, as Magnusson played the ball to his forward partner Ekström. The visitors were aware that there’s a lot of pace in this Polish side. From the off, Sweden had a wish to slow the game down, and certainly not give away any breaks that could lead to dangerous counters. Mr Nordin, the Swedish manager, had been in Chorzów himself two weeks earlier to witness first hand what Poland under Mr Strejlau were about, and he did have great belief in himself and his team that they could do what was needed from them to win. The Swedish were also aware that Poland liked to build from the back, and that in particular the left-sided of their three central defenders, captain Wdowczyk, liked to knock the ball into space. Nordin had deployed Ekström to try and take out this option, thus preventing the Polish forwards to get into the space behind the Swedish defence. Poland also are blistering quick when breaking through Tarasiewicz, so it would be another important feature in the visitors’ game to try and deny him space. It was also a well known fact internationally that Tarasiewicz had a tendency to drift out of games if he became displeased, so the Swedish central midfield duo of Thern and Ingesson realized what they had to do.
The Polish formation is unorthodox and it may take opponents some time to settle and realize how to best deal with them. However, the Swedes hold little fear, and in the early stages of the game they even try to take the game to the hosts. They are trying to use possession as a means to defend, or perhaps to avoid having to do unnecessary defending. Sweden will try to look for J Nilsson down the left hand side, as the outright winger has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, even if his pace is not extraordinary, at least not at international level. That, though, is a big feature of striker Ekstöm’s game, and so there is early evidence that the taller, slower Magnusson tries to feed him through the middle. The Polish defence is aware of the danger. Playing Ekström in is also difficult as long as the Polish are operating with a deep sweeper, something which is another trademark of their tactics, both under Łazarek and now under Strejlau.
Sweden had conceded a lot of goals in their two summer friendlies against Denmark and France, something which had not solely been down to the goalkeeper and defence. The midfielders had not been aware enough in their defensive responsibilities. Mr Nordin will certainly have addressed this, and there had been a great improvement against the English on home soil. They had scrapped the flamboyant Strömberg much due to his lack of defensive workrate, as running is what you would get all day long from both Thern and in particular Ingesson. Also, there was the wise inclusion of Engqvist on the right hand side. Having a preference to play in a central position with his club side Malmö, the Swedish number 6 can do a lot of cover work even from his wide position. Engqvist was instrumental in denying the Poles quick breaks and space. He would also assist in field and not solely along his right hand side. At times the Swedish resembled more a team in a 4-3-3 formation rather than 4-4-2, as J Nilsson could be seen as a third forward; Engqvist as a third central midfielder. This would, however, break with proud Swedish footballing traditions. Sweden is one of Europe’s most arch-typical 4-4-2 countries.
Before the ten minute mark, little is happening in front of either goal, although they have had each their foray into enemy territory. The Polish had attacked down their left hand side with Ziober and K Warzycha combining, and as the latter was played into space, his cross from the left side of the penalty area eluded everyone and reached his namesake R Warzycha on the opposite side. As the right-sided midfielder played the ball back into the area, Nawrocki could only mishit his shot and the Swedish could clear the ball away. It was, however, an insight into what the home side were about, and so the visitors had to realize what to expect. At the other end, Sweden are awarded a free-kick 26-27 yards out, and as the ball is lifted into the penalty area, Bako, who does have a tendency to punch the ball when coming out, can only reach free-kick taker Thern when he palms the ball clear, but to the goalkeeper’s relief the Swedish midfield engine can not connect cleanly and his effort sails wide. Set-pieces had been important for the Swedes in the opposite fixture; this was a reminder to the Polish that they had to be alert to this danger yet again.
As there is not a lot going their way in an attacking sense in the early exchanges, the Polish are using their familiar forward dynamics to try and unsettle the Swedish defence. Kosecki, set up to play to the right of centre among the three forwards, comes across to the left hand side to try and overload this area, and perhaps create openings for others. Kosecki is another who is able to run at pace with the ball at his feet, and he does possess tempo enough to cause danger to an opponent. Against a compact defence he is less of a threat. K Warzycha, who might be a frequent goalscorer at domestic level, has not yet been able to reproduce that at international level, but he is yet another player capable of running at pace with the ball at his feet. He is also not afraid to have a go from any distance, and can hit the ball equally well with both feet, though perhaps not always with the precision of Tarasiewicz. Dziekanowski, the central of the three strikers, had from time to time against England come deep to try and participate in the build-up of attacks, and though this is not as apparent against the Swedish as in their last outing, it would happen here too.
In Stockholm, Sweden had learnt about Tarasiewicz’ ability to strike with power and precision from a set-piece. So even when Poland were awarded a free-kick from wide of their penalty area, some 25 yards out, they were aware of what could come. Tarasiewicz did indeed have a go, but it never posed any danger to the goalkeeper this time around, as the ball made a high bounce before it fell into the arms of Ravelli. However, what came next, before 13 minutes had been played, was worse from a Swedish point of view. They had relaxed as they had tried to counter-attack the Polish themselves, but Ekström had wandered offside to the left. Quick perception by R Warzycha caught the Swedish defence square, and he was able to knock the ball in behind Ljung for Kosecki to chase. Outpacing the Swedish left-back, Kosecki burst into the area and had a strike at goal from an angle. Ravelli had to make a save with his right foot. Poland had wasted a great opportunity to go ahead, but Kosecki’s penultimate touch had probably taken him half a yard too far wide. It brought the crowd back to life, and after a somewhat subdued start to the game, it was what the home side needed to spur them on. Despite not having a lot to play for, there were signs that Poland could well give Sweden a match here.
Being a generally taller and possibly more physical side than their counterparts, Sweden could also be seen taking route one: A long punt up field by Ravelli would try to find the head of Magnusson, who again would look for either his forward compatriot or one of the midfielders, and Engqvist, despite his somewhat defensive nature, was excellent in getting into shooting positions. However, he would typically misfire. Engqvist would have three or four attempts in each of the three qualifying matches that he participated in. It had brought a goal in the dying seconds against Albania at home, although his goal then had been less of an opportunistic strike, more a controlled finish from inside the area.
Little is happening in front of either goal. The teams are cancelling each other out. The home side does not play with the same level of urgency as had been seen against the English, but it was understandable given the fact that they could no longer qualify for the World Cup. Sweden were giving a relatively cautious approach, which could be seen as wise under the circumstances. And Kosecki’s earlier burst through had caused them a scare. However, this warning sign had also made them very aware that they had to remain on their toes at all times, and so they kept plugging away in midfield, closing down space for Tarasiewicz. Czachowski had been able to get forward a good few times against the English, but this time around he did not pose much of an attacking threat. It was yet another feature in the Polish tactics that the visiting team were very alert to. The next strike on target will come from Sweden, when Ljung plays a short free-kick for Thern to have a go from all of 35 yards. Bako can make a comfortable save.
Around the half hour mark, Mr Nordin decides to let Ingesson and Engqvist swap positions, meaning that the former will go wide right. His trademark is strong runs into the opponents’ penalty area, and he had already made a couple of those. On one such occasion he had tried to bring the ball down via his chest to have a shot, but Polish sweeper Kaczmarek had been there to boot the ball away. Perhaps Nordin’s thought was that he would now have such runs from a territory that had not been expected by the home side? Or was he not completely satisfied with what Ingesson had done in a defensive capacity? If the latter was the fact, then he will have shaken his head as Ingesson tried to bring the ball out of defence to the right of his own penalty area. Kosecki nipped in to take it off him, but the long-haired forward’s subsequent shot was an easy effort to deal with for Ravelli. Perhaps Ingesson’s lack of experience at international level was beginning to show. Kosecki was so far the main Polish threat.
On 33 minutes comes the moment that will change the complexion of the match. Ljung throws the ball in for J Nilsson on the Swedish left hand side, some 12 yards from the byline. The Malmö winger shows off his excellent close control and manages to wriggle past R Warzycha with some delicate trickery, and next he leaves Kaczmarek for dead to proceed towards the byline. As he tries to pass 45 degrees back to Ekström, Bako gets in the way, but can only fumble the ball into the striker’s path. Ekström gets a shot away, even if it is not hit by any sort of power. He has managed to place it well, though, and this prompts Tarasiewicz to make a dive to fist the ball away from the goalline to prevent a certain Swedish goal. The referee has perhaps been somewhat shielded from having a clear view, but must have understood from the movements that Tarasiewicz had used his hand, just like the Swedish players were claiming. He gets a confirmation from his linesman on the far side and awards Sweden the penalty. Centre half Larsson dispatches with aplomb low to Bako’s left. It is a great strike for 1-0 to the visitors. Hysén has turned away and dares not watch as his central defensive colleague for many years shoots, but he understands from Ravelli’s reaction that Larsson has struck home.
If the Polish are not looking dejected, the visitors’ goal hardly inspires them. However, K Warzycha tries to break from midfield and play in Dziekanowski for the striker to advance past Hysén. As K Warzycha’s just released the ball, Magnusson tackles him from behind, and even if Dziekanowski is able to come away from Hysén with the ball at his feet, the whistle has gone for the referee to dish out a yellow card for the Swedish striker. Magnusson’s just proved that tackling is not the typical art work of a forward. Also by this time, Mr Nordin has let Ingesson and Engqvist swap positions yet again, making them appear in their respective starting positions. As play resumes, it oddly does so not through a Polish free-kick, but a Swedish one just outside of their own penalty area.
The final few minutes of the first half are quite frantic, and both sides have attempts on goal. However, it is the visitors who come the closest to increasing their lead rather than Poland equalizing. After Ekström’s had a turn and a low shot from just over 20 yards comfortably saved by Bako and K Warzycha fired well over from close range at an angle, J Nilsson is given time and space to lift a cross into the area, where Magnusson has got in behind Wdowczyk’s back to find himself completely unmarked. From six yards out he can only direct his header tamely straight at Bako. Perhaps the Benfica forward had too much time to think before connecting with the ball. Then this is often the kind of finish that you will get. At the other end R Warzycha has a left-footed effort deflected wide for a right wing corner, while Sweden are unsuccesfully trying to clear their lines in time added on for stoppages. Of all people it is Hysén who tries to advance and play the ball forward with a short pass for Engqvist, but it is cut out by Wdowczyk who plays it out for K Warzycha to cross from the left, and with no less than five Polish players to aim at, he finds Kosecki’s head at the back post. His header goes tamely wide, and with Ravelli furious, the visitors can finally breathe a sigh of relief and enter the dressing rooms a goal to the good.
After a hectic finale to the first period, it should be in the interest of the visitors to calm proceedings down; to see the game fall back into a pattern where the pace of the Polish is kept under control. Neither manager has felt the need to make any changes at half time, and why would they? Both teams had their moments during an eventful opening half, but Sweden have the all important goal. They will want to defend their lead with whatever means they have. Not that they’re likely to be too cynical; that is really not a feature of Scandinavian mentality. Yet Mr Nordin is likely to be aware that the longer they can prevent a Polish equalizer, the greater is the opportunity that they may nick a second goal on the counter.
It is the home side that bring the game back into action when they kick off through Kosecki and K Warzycha. Soon it becomes apparent that the Polish do not quite have the same level of threat as could be seen in moments towards the end of the first half. Players whom one feels should stand out and take responsibility seem to be in the passenger’s seat: Where’s Tarasiewicz at the start of the second half? He can be such an inspiration and a driving force when he’s on song. When things are not going for him, he is more likely to obstruct his own team’s chances of getting back into the game. Tarasiewicz seems to be anonymous in the early proceedings when Poland need him the most. It is left-sided midfielder Ziober who steps up to take responsibility, and he gives the usually steady R Nilsson a few hairy moments, although there’s little end product to his trickery. At the other end, Sweden are seen knocking long balls forward for Magnusson to flick on for either Ekström or indeed the industrious Engqvist, who thrives on cutting inside from his right-handed midfield role. Neither goalkeeper is tested early on, apart from when Ravelli almost makes a meal of a Ziober cross.
In the more withdrawn role in the centre of the home side’s midfield sits Nawrocki. The Katowice star has come into the side after Strejlau took over as manager, and he is doing his best to minimize the shouts for Matysik, who is plying his trade with Auxerre in the French top flight. Nawrocki had looked solid against the English, and even if he has been less visible this time around, he is looking sound again. It does look like Nawrocki has a desire for Poland to turn the game around, and he tries to inspire his comrades to have the same mentality. Yet there are too many home players who look dejected. Tarasiewicz has been mentioned, but K Warzycha is another one who looks to be hiding. And even if Dziekanowski is dropping off the Swedish central defenders to try and participate in the build-ups of Polish attacks, his efforts are mainly inefficient. From the back, there is also not much assistance from neither sweeper Kaczmarek nor Wdowczyk or the previously inspirational Czachowski. Along the Swedish left hand side, J Nilsson is doing a lot of backtracking and helping out his left-back Ljung. R Warzycha does not have much luck along his right hand side. Kosecki does not stop running, but is also incapable of posing much of a threat against Ravelli’s goal. It is difficult during the opening 15 minutes to see where an equalizer could come from. These developments are exactly what Sweden would have wanted when reappearing for the second half.
15 minutes into the second half comes the second Swedish goal. Polish central defender Czachowski has tried to advance into the visitors’ penalty area, but had been halted by Ingesson, who then plays a pass up to Ekström on the halfway line. The pacey forward takes the ball past Kaczmarek, whose efforts to stop him are half-hearted at best, advances in big strides towards Bako’s penalty area, nutmegs Wdowczyk, before he slides the ball past the ‘keeper. It is an excellent individual goal for the striker who’s endured a difficult couple of seasons both in West Germany and currently in France. He’s hardly been prolific as a goalscorer with the national team over the last couple of years either, but this is his second of the qualifiers; his first had been the winner in Albania. There’s joy in the visiting camp as Sweden now are well on their way to winning the group and for participation in next year’s World Cup.
Moments later Magnusson receives the ball in a wide right position. He checks to see what options are available to him, and he can see his forward partner Ekström making a run into the penalty area, and as Nawrocki stops backtracking, the man who’s just scored the 2-0 goal gets on the end of Magnusson’s well-timed cross. However, the Cannes striker can not make a clean connection and the ball drifts harmlessly wide of Bako’s goal. It could so easily have been a third goal for the visitors and the definitive end to Polish resistance. The home side live to fight another day, but do they have what it takes to get back in this game? The first 17 minutes of the second half has not suggested that they do. There are players who need to come out of hibernation. They’re just carrying too many passengers.
Sweden again let Engqvist and Ingesson swap positions, and with the former working in a central midfield tandem with the energetic Thern, the visitors do not seem any easier to break down. All of a sudden Tarasiewicz has space and time in the centre of the pitch to direct a pass out to the left, where Dziekanowski’s made a run. The centre forward spots R Warzycha who’s making a fine run inside, feeds him the ball, and the wide right midfielder hits a left-footed effort. However, it is again way off target. What seemed promising for a few seconds ended in nothing. And the Polish players hardly seem to care. Time for a substitution or two, Mr Strejlau? Before anything happens on that front, though, there’s another couple of moments with Polish endeavour, and the earlier invisible Tarasiewicz had been instrumental in both. First he sends Kosecki away down the right hand side, although his cross will only reach Engqvist, but Dziekanowski makes a good effort in winning the ball back from Hysén, and Tarasiewicz and K Warzycha combine to set up Ziober for a left-foot shot from just outside the area. However, his low effort is safely gathered by Ravelli without too much trouble.
Tarasiewicz has all of a sudden found a new lease of life. He’s come a bit deeper and thus freed himself from the attention of the Swedish midfielders, creating space for himself for distributing some fine passes. This has also coincided with the positional swap between Engqvist and Ingesson, and perhaps the decision to leave Ingesson out wide had not been so fruitful after all? Another fine through pass by the Polish playmaker lets R Warzycha in between Ljung and Hysén, and he gets into a good position and fires a shot which just goes wide of the upright. It was probably the best Polish move of the second half, and could this mini-revival continue? Not for R Warzycha, as he would immediately be replaced by Kubicki. It seemed an odd decision considering how busy the Górnik wide man had been in the last few minutes.
The change in personnel seems to take the spark out of the Polish revival. Sweden will again control the game and slow the pace down, letting the clock work in their favour. The visitors would make a change themselves when taking off Ingesson, who had been playing out wide for the last six-seven minutes, for N Larsson, who had scored the winner against the Polish in the home tie. The latter is a natural wide player, and Engqvist, who had started on the right hand side of midfield, was pleased to see the game out in his favoured central position alongside Thern.
With the sting completely taken out of the game, Mr Strejlau decides to make a second substitution. If his first had seemed a strange time to replace R Warzycha, then it seemed baffling to withdraw Nawrocki from his central midfield position and bring on a debutant: 26 year old Góra from Śląsk Wrocław was his replacement. Góra is a wide player, so it meant in practice that Ziober would come into Nawrocki’s central role, with the substitute slotting into Ziober’s left-sided berth. Certainly, there were other players who would have deserved to be substituted ahead of Nawrocki, even if he had not dominated midfield. At least he had showed a bit of spirit, something which was lacking from the performances of others. The Swedish too make their final substitution at the same time, with Lindqvist replacing Ekström up front for the remainder of the match.
Sweden see the game out. Poland are not imaginative enough to create any concern for the away team. There’s a skied finish from the bleak K Warzycha, whilst Magnusson should have done better at the other end when Thern leads a counter-attack and feeds him with a clever pass that splits the home defence. Magnusson’s touch is awful, and the ball trickles in to Bako. Not that it mattered much. Time was almost up, and a third goal would not have changed anything for either team. Sweden were winning the group; Poland were since long out of the reckoning. There were only 28 seconds of added time when the steady East German referee blew his whistle one final time.
The Polish could play without any pressure as they had little to play for, but they were up against a team with a game plan and a great desire to win. Poland were never able to reach the same level of performance as they had shown against England, as Sweden were able to take the sting out of the game and leave the home players frustrated. It was a thoroughly professional job by the Scandinavians, who went ahead when Tarasiewicz acted as a goalkeeper to save Ekström’s goalbound effort. P Larsson’s penalty was very well struck under pressure. And after the break the visiting team hardly had any pressure to soak up, apart from a small spell midway through the half. But when Mr Strejlau took off R Warzycha, there was nothing left of the Polish resistance. By this time Ekström had added a second with a fine individual effort, and Sweden played down the clock and saw the game out very professionally. Their win was a well deserved one.
1 Bako 6.6
not to blame for either goal. Comes out well to thwart Magnusson right at the end. One dodgy first half moment from a J Nilsson corner
2 Czachowski 6.5
impressive against the English, a lot less so here. Not given the opportunity to go forward, apart from his one moment when losing possession near the Swedish penalty area which brings about the counter for 2-0. Has trouble with Ekström’s pace
3 Kaczmarek 6.6
sweeps. Does some cover work for the two central defenders. Plays a couple of long passes to little effect. Quicker than he appears? Too easily left in his trail by Ekström for the second Swedish goal
4 Wdowczyk 6.6
not a commanding display, and was rarely given time to lift forward into space. Too easily nutmegged for Ekström’s goal
5 R Warzycha 6.6
largely anonymous along his right hand side, but does come to life in the five minutes before he’s taken off, so his substitution is a bit bemusing
(15 Kubicki –
his introduction coincides with Polish efforts subsiding. Largely anonymous after coming on)
6 Nawrocki 6.8
one of few Polish players who gave his all throughout, and so probably didn’t deserve to be taken off. Passing not always accurate, but tigerish in his approach and won a few midfield battles
(13 Góra –
hardly touches the ball down his left flank after coming on for his debut)
7 Tarasiewicz 6.5
apart from a five minute spell midway through the second half, this is a bleak performance by the Polish playmaker. Had come deeper to give himself more time on the ball in that short spell, but other than that seems careless and nonchalant. A couple of first half shots, but neither threatened Ravelli
8 Kosecki 6.8
has no lack of want, but quality is not always there. Does keep the Swedish defenders on their toes, and has a fine moment when running in behind Ljung for his first half effort. Not a big goal threat though
9 K Warzycha 6.3
hardly a lot of movement off the ball, and a few wayward shots. At times appears uninterested and energyless. Does not utilize his pace anywhere near enough
10 Dziekanowski 6.5
ineffectual performance, never a match for the Swedish central defenders in the air. Drops deep at times to participate in build-up of attacks, but does not pose a goal threat
11 Ziober 6.8
one of the better home players with his endeavour. Uses his fleet-footed technique to decent effect against R Nilsson, but is without end product. Came in centrally for the final ten minutes or so
1 T Ravelli 6.8
only has one proper save to make, which is when Kosecki’s through within the opening quarter of an hour. Other than that gives his defenders an option and keeps calm. Commands his area, though flapping at an early second half cross from Ziober
2 R Nilsson 6.7
surprisingly a few difficult moments against the unpredictable Ziober, and gave away a needless corner in the second half. Tried to keep things simple, but not his best international
3 Hysén 6.9
did not need to be as commanding this time around. Always dominant when the Polish played it high, and he was almost unchallenged in the air, though it wasn’t often this particular expertise was demanded
4 P Larsson 7.1
such a cool penalty, and also a tower of strength at the back. Clearly instructed not to make runs out of position this time around, something which suited him. No nonsense
5 Ljung 6.9
is unaware when Kosecki has his opportunity in the first half, but other than that in relative control down his side. Often faced with Kosecki, who is a tricky opponent. Links up well with J Nilsson
6 Engqvist 7.1
again has a lot of shots (four), but neither troubling Bako. Excellent cover work, and is also solid when called into the middle of the pitch. Gave a good account of himself
7 Thern 7.0
tireless worker. Excellent pass to play Magnusson in right at the death. Keeps Sweden tick in the middle of the park
8 Ingesson 6.7
strong in challenges, does make a couple of trademark deep runs, but is not too efficient in this particular match. Brought off in a tactical switch
(14 N Larsson –
mostly focused on defensive work after coming on, and efficiently clears the ball on a couple of occasions)
9 J Nilsson 7.2
wonderful skills to get past two men and create the penalty situation, and also put a big shift in defensively to aid Ljung. His lack of pace prevents him from getting to the byline on occasions, so has a tendency to drift inside instead
10 Ekström 7.2
it is difficult to look beyond his contribution for both goals, but apart from getting the penalty and scoring the solo goal he did little to impress, although he did a job as the first line of defence. Mightily tired towards the end, which brought about the substitution
(16 Lindqvist –
there’s not a lot of punch left in the game when he’s brought on, so he’s mainly concentrating on giving chase to the Polish defenders)
11 Magnusson 6.8
when sought in the air he does well, but is not a big threat along the ground. Like Ekström he did not give the home side’s defenders peace on the ball, and he had a nice moment when he waited in his forward partner’s run shortly after 2-0. Could have scored a third right at the death, but did not collect Thern’s intelligent pass well at all