Poland skipper praises point and looks ahead


POLAND captain Jakub Blaszczykowski expressed his delight at scoring to rescue a valuable point against Russia and preserve Polish ambitions of advancing to the European Championship’s last eight.

Blaszczykowski scored the co-hosts goal during a sensational second-half after Alan Dzagoev scored in the 37th-minute to raise Russian hopes of topping Group A and improving upon their Euro 2008 performance.

Russia remain top with four points but Poland, with two, could yet overtake them with victory over Czech Republic if Russia fail to overcome Greece.

“When you score an equaliser like that, it gives really good energy to the team,” said Blaszczykowski. “Smuda got his tactics spot on, and we followed them through.

“We’re still in contention, and if we win our final game we’re through. We’ll fight until the end.

“If we have the attitude and get energy from the fans we can show them that we deserve their support.”

Dzagoev headed Russia in front from Andrey Arshavin’s in-swinging free-kick but as play became stretched, Blaszczykowski scored past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with a left-footed effort so powerful it made a weightlifter look weak.

Yet though the atmosphere inside the stadium was fierce as this tournament has known, the mood outside was considerably darker. Support of Russia’s Independence Day sparked anger among Polish extremists, provoking violent clashes between riot police and both sets of fans.