Poland 1-3 Austria: Marko Arnautovic seals tough defeat for Michal Probierz’s side who fall to rock bottom of Group D… despite Ralf Rangnick’s side scoring a controversial penalty

Poland 1-3 Austria: Marko Arnautovic seals tough defeat for Michal Probierz’s side who fall to rock bottom of Group D… despite Ralf Rangnick’s side scoring a controversial penalty

It was to Ralf Rangnick that striker Christopher Baumgartner ran after he had despatched the decisive second goal which creates the very realistic prospect that Austria will actually progress from this tournament’s Group of Death. There was something rather fitting about that.

Rangnick might have been shown the door at Manchester United and considered something of a control freak there, but since taking his leave in the winter of 2022, he has brought his ‘gegenpressing’ game to this small football nation and seen it take root.

‘He’s brought a new buzz in the country’, forward Nicolas Seiwald said in an interview with UEFA.com this week and that was certainly true last night, as the Austrians all-but eliminated Poland, who have no points and the French still left to play.

That decisive goal came minutes after Poland’s last roll of the dice – throwing on Robert Lewandowski just before the hour mark. But the talisman was booked within minutes for throwing an elbow and Austria promptly headed off in the other direction to win a game which had been deadlocked, and seemed destined to see two decent football nations eliminate each other.

Baumgartner, a willing exponent of the high intensity, quick start game, who scored after six seconds against Slovakia in February, struck the first decisive blow. He ran through, socks down, to despatch a shot past Wojciech Szczesny who dived the wrong way despite having full sight of a ball which was not deflected. A dummy sold by Marko Arnoutovic, who let the ball from the left run into Baumgartner’s path, was instrumental.

Marko Arnautovic (pictured) helped his side seal a 3-1 victory against Poland on Friday night

The former Stoke forward netting a penalty late in the second half to seal the victory for his side

The former Stoke forward netting a penalty late in the second half to seal the victory for his side

Gernot Trauner (pictured) fired Austria ahead inside the opening ten minutes with a header

Gernot Trauner (pictured) fired Austria ahead inside the opening ten minutes with a header

The score was settled 12 minutes later – Arnautovic despatching a penalty to Szczesny’s right after Jan Bednarek fecklessly missed a long punt and allowed Marcel Sabitzer to nip in ahead of him to run through on goal, leading the goalkeeper to bring him down.

It was the sweetest experience for Austria, tournament dark horses, who are unbeaten in 15 of their last 17 international matches, with the two defeats including France in their opening Euro 2024 game here, yet who wound up with both the French and the Dutch in their group.

With both sides facing tough third games – Poland face France next and Austria go up against the Netherlands – a win and points on the board were imperative here. The team that lost was almost certainly going home .

Rangnick was the manager who taught Jurgen Klopp what effective pressing really looks like when his newly promoted Hoffenheim side defeated the current Liverpool manager’s Dortmund 4-1 in September 2008. ‘We need to get to where they are now,’ a devastated Klopp said in the aftermath of that hammering. ‘Tactical behaviour is not like riding a bike, unfortunately. You have to practice, again and again.’ Austria’s players know all about that now.

With Poland dropping to the rock bottom of Group D, Robert Lewandowski's (centre) side are now on the cusp of being knocked out of the tournament

With Poland dropping to the rock bottom of Group D, Robert Lewandowski’s (centre) side are now on the cusp of being knocked out of the tournament

They start with very high energy these days – even their kick-off routine was organised to have them running at the Polish defence – and once again they scored early because of it.

After a precision half-volleyed cross from Phillip Mwene, who was exceptional in the first half hour, Gernot Trauner leapt to wrap his head, unchallenged, around a bullet header. The defence and goalkeeper might have done better but the finish was a thing of beauty.

Poland, enjoying a huge volume of support, began to look ragged at the back and there was a frisson when Lewandowski, still on the bench for what looks all the world like his last international tournament, got up out of his seat. He was simply heading up the bench to speak to someone else.

The question was whether Austria could maintain that momentum in the heat of a sultry Berlin evening and the Poles did begin to probe them. They equalised when a shot by Southampton’s Bedanek’s shot hit defender Phillip Lienhart and Krzysztok Piatek – on old turf here, as a former Hertha Belin player – pounced impressively, seizing control with first touch and burying it, right footed, with his second.

For a time, the Austrians spurned the opportunities they were carving out. Baumgartner squared when the goal was opening up for him on the couter-attack just before half. Bedanek did well to block from Sabitzer. But the breakthrough eventually came.

There was no way back for the Poles and Austria could have scored a fourth when Konrad Laimer went around the keeper and shot across the face of goal. This is some achievement for a country of nine million people – London’s population – against a nation of 38 million. They will probably be a third-placed qualifier for the knock-out stages. A team none of the bigger nations will relish.

 

More to follow… 


Source From: Football | Mail Online

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