Poland grab vital draw

PA Sport
Jakub Blaszczykowski fires home a stunning equaliser for Poland against Russia
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Jakub Blaszczykowski fires home a stunning equaliser for Poland against Russia

Jakub Blaszczykowski's 58th-minute equaliser salvaged a crucial point from a 1-1 draw for co-hosts Poland and scuppered Russia's hopes of becoming the first team to book their place in the Euro 2012 knockout stages.

Alan Dzagoev had fired the Russians in front in the 38th minute as they looked to build on their superb opening win over the Czech Republic by making mathematically certain of reaching the last eight.

But roared on by a predominantly Polish crowd in Warsaw's National Stadium, the Poles boosted their own hopes of progression from Group A when captain Blaszczykowski blazed his leveller past Vyacheslav Malafeev from 20 yards.

It was a richly-deserved point for the Poles, who were frustrated in their opening draw with Greece, but set a stunning pace in the first period and repelled the majority of the impressive Russian advances.

Poland had the ball in the net in the 19th minute when Robert Lewandowski played in Eugen Polanski who drilled a low shot beyond Malafeev but was correctly pulled up for straying offside.

Russia's best spell of the match resulted in the opening goal in the 38th minute as Andrey Arshavin delivered a superb free-kick from the left flank and Dzagoev flashed home a header past Przemyslaw Tyton.

Poland almost responded immediately, with Blaszczykowski's powerful drive beaten away by Malafeev, but the Russians were beginning to play with the same kind of confident swagger evident in their opening group win.

But Russia ended the half well on top, with Dzagoev and Yuri Zhirkov both having close-range chances and the goalscorer unlucky not to earn a penalty in first-half injury-time after being pushed over in the box.

Ludovic Obraniak and Damien Perquis both came close early in the second half before the Russians threatened with a swift counter in the 50th minute, Aleksandr Kerzhakov's dangerous run eventually intercepted by Dariusz Dudka.

Blaszczykowski sparked jubilation in the 58th minute when he got on the end of a Polish breakaway down the right and cut inside to sent a superb left-foot drive beyond Malafeev and into the corner of the net.

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