Euro 2024: Austria beats Poland 3-1 in Berlin

Euro 2024: Austria beats Poland 3-1 in Berlin

Despite super-sub Robert Lewandowski, Poland’s elimination from the group stage of the European Football Championship is a foregone conclusion. Five days after their opening defeat against the Netherlands (1:2), the Poles also lost their crucial second group match on Friday in Berlin against Austria, coached by Ralf Rangnick, 1:3.

Lewandowski, who came on after an hour and made a lightning comeback after recovering from a torn muscle, could not prevent the defeat.

Lewandowski arrives, Austria scores

Gernot Trauner put Austria in the lead in the 9th minute with the Alpine Republic’s fastest goal at the European Championships. Former Hertha player Krzysztof Piatek, who was allowed to play in the starting eleven instead of Lewandowski, equalized after half an hour at his old stomping ground.

When Lewandowski was on the field, Leipzig’s Christoph Baumgartner (66th) and captain Marko Arnautovic (78th, penalty) scored to give the Austrians the win.

All of Austria “deserved” this victory, said Baumgartner, who fell into Rangnick’s arms after the 2-1 win. “He supported me every day, and at half-time he told me that he needed me,” said the RB Leipzig striker. “So this is also a thank you to him.” Rangnick himself later spoke of “the most important game since I became team manager here. We are very happy with the victory and also with the performance.”

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At the end of the group match next Tuesday against World Cup runner-up France (6 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the European Football Championship and on MagentaTV), even a win is not enough for the Poles to advance.

Because France did not lose in Leipzig on Friday evening, their exit from the tournament is already certain. The Austrians have the much better cards with three points on their account and the Netherlands as their last group opponent.

70 minutes before kick-off, the somewhat surprising news leaked out that Lewandowski was not fit enough to be in the starting eleven. The most recent statements from those in charge had suggested that the 35-year-old former Bayern player could start in the final European Championship test match against Turkey eleven days after tearing a muscle fiber in his thigh.

“The best breaker is our counter-pressing”

For Austria’s coach Ralf Rangnick, this apparently did not change anything tactically. “We didn’t talk about it at all,” said the German coach on ARD shortly before kick-off. He wanted to stay true to his aggressive style of play despite the 0-1 defeat in the opening match against France: “Our best breaker is our counter-pressing.”

And that’s exactly how Rangnick’s team started. The Austrians, led by record international player Marko Arnautovic, attacked the Poles aggressively in their half and continued to follow up consistently even after they took the lead.

After a cross from the eye-catching Mainz player Phillipp Mwene, the advancing defender Trauner headed the ball into the corner. Lewandowski looked worried on the bench and later whispered something in the assistant coach’s ear.

Piatek scores, Lewandowski celebrates

The 0:1 was a wake-up call for the Poles. They were now better able to free themselves from the constant pressure of their opponents and also had some notable chances. Piatek’s equaliser from close range was absolutely deserved. The attacker celebrated his goal with his pistol celebration, which he had shown far too rarely in the Hertha shirt at the Olympic Stadium. Lewandowski also celebrated on the sidelines.

The Austrians, who had been so dominant at the start, suddenly became unsettled. Despite the fact that there was a wealth of experience on the pitch, with an average age of 28 years and 217 days, Austria’s oldest starting lineup in a European Championship finals match, according to data provider Opta.

Marcel Sabitzer did make a few more impressions at the end of the first half, but Poland had the big chance to take the lead through a free kick by substitute captain Piotr Zielinski, which was saved by ÖFB goalkeeper Patrick Pentz.

Rangnick reacted and brought on Patrick Wimmer from Wolfsburg, a more offensive midfielder, for Florian Grillitsch from TSG Hoffenheim. But initially there was little attacking action on either side. In addition, goalscorer Trauner had to leave the field in the 59th minute due to injury.

The substitution of superstar Lewandowski caused huge cheers among the 35,000 Polish fans. In one of his first actions, the captain was shown the yellow card for using his elbow in an aerial challenge with Freiburg’s Philipp Lienhart.

But things got even worse for the former Munich player. After Baumgartner fell behind again, the Poles increased the pressure and looked for their top star, especially with long balls. The decision in Austria’s favor came after an early ball win and a foul by Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on Sabitzer in the penalty area.


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