Three-goal Austria beat Poland who crash out after Dutch draw

Robert Lewandowski marked his arrival with a comprehensive defeat as Arnautovic wraps it up from the penalty spot

Marko Arnautovic of Austria celebrates scoring his team's third goal against Poland. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Group D: Poland 1 Austria 3

This game was supposed to be the moment when Robert Lewandowski marked his arrival but an ultimately comprehensive defeat to Austria means Poland’s stay at this tournament is over. The 0-0 draw between France and the Netherlands sealed their fate on Friay night.

Marko Arnautovic capped victory from the penalty spot after Wojciech Szczesny upended Marcel Sabitzer, giving them hope of qualifying from Group D when they meet the Netherlands here on Tuesday. On the eve of this game Szczesny told how Lewandowski’s presence would spook these opponents, but arguably Poland’s greatest export did not appear on the pitch until the hour and his impact was minimal at best, 11 forgettable touches.

A peculiar event, at least a lesser-spotted thing, happened with 24 minutes showing on the big screens on three sides of this stadium, the Marathon Gate at one end, once home to the Olympic flame, meaning a fourth is logistically tricky if not impossible. Austria led 1-0 and appeared in total control. Within seconds of kick-off Marcel Sabitzer earned a throw-in high down the left flank and, weirdly, Poland seemed startled by Austria’s thirst to press high and fast.

But then Lewandowski jumped out of his seat in the far left of Poland’s XXL dugout and fed his thoughts into a member of manager Michal Probierz’s backroom staff, who then relayed the message to another Polish coach. Whatever Lewandowski said, it seemed to have the desired effect. Piotr Zielinski saw a shot blocked a few minutes later and on the half-hour Poland equalised.


Perhaps it was inevitable that a striker, who has been a revelation at club level, scoring a hat-trick in his last domestic game but had to make do with willing his teammates on from the bench in defeat against the Netherlands, would make a dent. Only it was not Lewandowski but Krzysztof Piatek. Zielinski’s left-foot cross from the right caused problems and despite Gernot Trauner repelling Jan Bednarek’s shot on goal, Piatek feasted on the rebound, shuffling his feet before side-footing a shot into the corner past Patrick Pentz in the Austria goal. Poland’s supporters re-lit flares, turned up the volume and suddenly, despite a sluggish start, they had parity. Sabitzer flashed a shot wide of a post before the interval and earlier was crowded out as he moseyed towards goal.

“Zusammen unter Osterreich stehen,” was the message in block capitals on a banner unfurled by Austria fans before kick-off. Perhaps their lightning start stemmed from stomaching the team news, buoyed by Lewandowski only starting on the bench. They hounded Poland from the first whistle and it seemed inevitable that at some point they would gain a meaningful advantage. In the ninth minute Trauner, who replaced Kevin Danso in defence, scored a smart header.

Austria recycled the ball from a long throw and when Philipp Mwene swung in a cross from the left Trauner moved towards the front post to bury a powerful header inside the six-yard box. Rangnick tried his best to keep his emotions in check but could not resist a quick kerching, clenching his left fist in celebration like a man who had just won £50 on the premium bonds. Moments later Marko Arnautovic, promoted to the starting XI, swiped at goal in search of a second.

Level at the break, both managers recognised there was room for improvement. The Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder replaced Jakub Piotrowski and Patrick Wimmer came on for Florian Grillitsch, the latter’s first notable contribution a cynical challenge on Nicola Zalewski which earned him a booking from the Turkish referee, Halil Umut Meler.

Then Austria conceded another cheap free-kick. Poland were gaining momentum and then pulled out their trump card. Now it was Lewandowski taking instructions. The 35-year-old wiped sweat off his forehead with his left forearm and then it was time to enter, in place of Adam Buksa, who scored their goal against the Netherlands last Sunday. Poland’s noisy supporters bellowed Lewandowski’s name. The Barcelona striker had been in the box a matter of seconds when Stefan Posch hurriedly cleared for a corner.

It was another substitute who made the difference three minutes after entering. Alexander Prass, on for Mwene, skipped unchallenged down the left and then passed infield, his low diagonal ball seemingly for the captain Arnautovic.

Or so Poland presumed as Arnautovic, who seems to relish the role of showman – either that or pantomime villain – allowed the ball to whistle between his legs, magically sliding open the doors of the Austria defence. The ball was set perfectly for Baumgartner, who looked up, picked his spot and curled past Szczesny, who saved from Wimmer as Austria went for the jugular.

Baumgartner instantly made a beeline for Rangnick after scoring, giving his manager a bear hug while Lewandowski trudged back towards halfway.

Poland’s number nine had to do it all again when Arnautovic wrapped up victory from the penalty spot on 78 minutes, sending Szczesny the wrong way.

- Guardian