Euro 2020: Slovakia upset 10-men Poland in Group E opener

Slovakia Poland Euro 2020
Slovakia’s Milan Skriniar celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates.
Pool via REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Poland might have one of the most prolific strikers to ever play the game in Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who scored 48 goals in 40 matches this season, but on the international stage, it’s just not enough.

The country’s nightmare on the international stage continues after a dreadful showing at the 2018 World Cup, dropping its Group E opener at Euro 2020 2-1 to Slovakia on Monday.

Milan Skriniar fired home the winner in the 69th minute to lift Slovakia to victory just moments after Poland was reduced to 10 men when defender Grzegorz Krychowiak accrued his second yellow card of the match.

Robert Mak fired Slovakia in front 18 minutes in, though it was classified as an own goal off the Polish goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny.

The winger who plays in the Hungarian league with Ferencváros danced down the left wing, meandering through two defenders, including a nutmeg, before bounding down the left end line and firing a shot from a difficult angle. His shot beat Szczesny and rang off the post before bouncing off the keeper’s back and past the goal line to put Slovakia ahead.

Poland’s probing didn’t generate many chances as Lewandowski was largely held in check to just one half-chance on the volley that skittered wide just moments before halftime. He had just 22 touches in the first half, which was the lowest among all Poland players.

The favorites quickly rectified things in the second half, needing just 33 seconds to equalize as a cutback pass from Maciej Rybus found Karol Linetty, whose deflected shot rolled timidly into the back of the net.

The striker playing for Torino in Serie A nearly put Poland ahead five minutes later as he got on the end of another cross in the box, but his first-time effort rolled right into the grateful arms of Martin Dubravaka.

But Poland lost control with their hopes taking a massive hit in the 62nd minute when Krychowiak picked up his second yellow card of the match after catching the foot of Jakub Hromada and was dismissed, relegating the white and reds to 10 men for the final half-hour.

Just seven minutes after Krychowiak’s dismissal, Slovakia went back in front off a corner when Skriniar — who plays for Serie A champions, Inter Milan — flagged down a glancing clear at the top of the box and rifled home a right-footed effort into the bottom-left corner of the goal.