A second half strike from central defender Milan Skriniar gave Slovakia a 2-1 win over Poland in the opening fixture of Group E of Euro 2020 in Saint Petersburg on Monday night.
Slovakia took the lead by virtue of a Wojciech Szczesny own goal after 18 minutes. Poland equalised through Karol Linetty in the opening minute of the second half. Poland were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark following an innocuous second yellow card for Grzegorz Krychowiak before Skriniar netted the winning goal with 21 minutes to go.
Poland dominated the ball early on by moving the ball from side-to-side without creating any real clear cut chances.
Slovakia created the opening chance of the game after 14 minutes, as Ondrej Duda cut in from the left before unleashing an effort that brushed the side-netting of the Poland goal.
They took the lead four minutes later as Robert Mak did well to play the ball through the legs of Bereszynski before playing the ball off the post, off Szczesny and into the bottom corner to put the Slovaks ahead.
Poland’s first real chance came after 25 minutes when Kamil Joswiak played a ball across the box to Maciej Rybus who saw his effort from ten yards blocked and cleared by the Slovakian rear guard.
Peter Pekarik was a real threat down Slovakia’s right all night. After 33 minutes, Pekarik received the ball from Marek Hamsik before crossing for Kucka, who headed straight at Szczesny from close range.
Krychowiak had a half chance to equalise moments later when the midfielder got onto a loose ball following an error in the Slovakia defence, before shooting narrowly over from 25 yards.
Piotr Zielenski had a similar chance moments later, as he turned and shot safely wide from 20 yards after receiving the ball from the right wing.
Robert Lewandowski had his first chance of the game moments before the break, but he couldn’t make telling contact with the ball and as a result it drifted wide of Dubravka’s post.
Poland looked much sharper when they came out for the second half, and they equalised within moments of the re-start.
Rybus found his way to the end line before pulling the ball back for Linetty to level from close range.
A couple of minutes later Zielinski looked to put the Poles in front, as he cut in from the right before shooting wide with his left foot.
Slovakia had their first effort of the second half, as Haraslin cut in from the right before shooting narrowly wide of the far post from 20 yards.
Things took a turn for the worst for Poland just after the hour mark when Krychowiak was dismissed for a second yellow card after a foul on Hromada in the middle of the pitch.
The call was harsh and the midfielder was certainly unlucky to be dismissed from the field of play.
Having the extra man showed for Slovakia just seven minutes later as they retook the lead. Skriniar latched onto a second ball following Hamsik’s corner before shooting, powerfully past Szczesny.
Poland didn’t muster many chances to equalise until the last five minutes of the game, when substitute Tymoteusz Puchacz fired wide from the edge of the box after a corner was cleared.
Lewandowski had a golden chance to equalise with two minutes to go when the Bayern Munich man failed to make proper contact with a corner, and as a result his close range header drifted wide of the post.
Southampton defender Jan Bednarek also had a great chance to level in the dying embers, as he scuffed a shot from 15 yards before firing a follow up effort narrowly wide of the Slovakia goal.
Next up for Slovakia is a game with Sweden in Saint Petersburg on Friday afternoon. Poland face Spain in Seville on Saturday night.
Poland: Wojciech Szczesny; Kamil Glik, Bartosz Bereszynski, Jan Bednarek, Maciej Rybus (Tymoteusz Puchacz 74); Mateusz Klich (Jakub Moder 85), Grzegorz Krychowiak, Karol Linetty (Przemyslaw Frankowski 74); Kamil Jozwiak, Robert Lewandowski (c), Piotr Zielinski (Karol Swiderski 85).
Subs not used: Kacper Kozlowski , Tomasz Kedziora, Michal Helik , Lukasz Fabianski, Pawel Dawidowicz, Przemyslaw Placheta, Lucasz Skorupski, Jakub Swierczok.
Booked: Grzegorz Krychowiak (22 + 62).
Sent off: Grzegorz Krychowiak (62).
Slovakia: Martin Dubravka; Milan Skriniar, Lubo Satka, Peter Pekarik (Martin Koscelník 78), Tomas Hubocan; Juraj Kucka, Jakub Hromada (Patrik Hrosovsky 78), Marek Hamsik (c); Robert Mak (Tomas Suslov 87), Lukas Haraslín (Michal Duris 87), Ondrej Duda (Jan Gregus 90).
Subs not used: Vladimir Weiss, Denis Vavro, Marek Rodak, Stanislav Lobotka, Dusan Kuciak, David Hancko, Laszlo Benes.
Booked: Tomas Hubocan (20) .
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (Romania)
extratime.com Player of the Match: Peter Pekarik (Slovakia)