After an rousing opening game in Group A between Germany & Costa Rica, there were high hopes of a similar affair here. A mainly Polish crowd was in noisy attendance hoping for a winning start to their World Cup tournament, while Ecuador were hoping to be stubborn, and spoil the party.
There was a very cautious opening spell to the game, and as both sides tried to settle into their rhythm chances were few and far between. Valencia dragged a shot wide for Ecuador followed by a 30 yard strike from his compatriot Castillo after 11 minutes which was on target and well struck, but did not unduly worry Boruc in the Poles net.
Poland’s midfield now seemed to take a grip of the game and enjoyed lengthy spells of possession, with Kryznowek an eager runner down the left giving De la Cruz a torrid time. The Aston Villa full back was not having one of his better games.
Plenty of good Polish build up play seemed to meet with a solid back four of Ecuador who definitely appeared to relish the challenge. Each time a Polish attack reached an area of danger it fizzled out, usually as a result of Hurtado’s attentions. ecuador seemed to be content to play on the counter, and the pace and strength of Carlos Tenorio up front worried the less than spritely Bak & Jop on several occasions.
On 23 minutes Ecuador won a throw in on their right side, deep in Polish territory. The throw by De la Cruz was the first good thing he’d done all night & was flicked on at the near post by Delgado to Carlos Tenorio, who ghosted in at the back post to head home easily. A classic sucker punch.
Five minutes later Ecuador should have had a second when Tenorio anticipated another De la Cruz throw in to get to the bye line and drag back a great ball for the onrushing Delgado who blazed over.
Poland meanwhile were still maintaining possession, with Symkowiak & Sobolewski probing frequently, and Kryznowek still getting the better of his marker. Hurtado & increasingly Espinosa stood firm as Ecuadors central defence, well supported by Reasco.
The only real chance for Poland in the first half came right at the death when a great inswinging corner from Kryznowek passed straight through the area with Mora flapping nowhere near the ball.
Poland emerged for the second period with clear intent and immediately took control of possession again. The response from Ecuador was the same. Symkowiak & Smolarek began to enjoy decent possession, but were always harried by an increasingly defensive midfield, who were prepared to run themselves into the ground. Still Hurtado & Espinosa kept the Poland attack shackled, and any decent through balls were intercepted.
At the other end, Ecuador still possessed a threat on the counter whilst the Poles committed men forward. Kaviedes replaced Carlos Tenorio just after the hour, to give fresh legs up front while Sobolewski was replaced by a third striker in Jelen. Minutes later Hurtado was led off injured to be replaced by Guagua, and a Polish equaliser seemed to be on the cards.
The Polish still enjoyed all the possession but could not produce a telling strike. Symkowiak volleyd a corner wide in a nice set piece move, and Jelen looked lively but still the resistance held firm.
Ecuador on a rare sortie out of defence produced a second goal against all the play when Edwin Tenorio supplied a defence splitting pass for Kaviedes, who squared to Delgado for an easy tap in.
Coach Pavel Janas introduced Brozek as a last resort for Poland, who still continued to press. With 5 minutes left Jelen cut into the box from the right and lashed a left foot shot off the bar, followed in the final minute by a delightful curling effort from Brozek which struck the upright. Perhaps Poland should have started these two?
English Soccer at http://www.football-england.com.
Norbert Wartle writes for English Soccer website Football England and is covering all the matches from the World Cup – Germany 2006.
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