In the end Poland's UEFA EURO 2012 dreams fizzled out like the thunderstorm which crackled and snapped around the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw during their final Group A game against the Czech Republic. As in their previous two matches, the co-hosts started with plenty of vim and vigour only to fade and run out of ideas once they had failed to make the breakthrough, losing 1-0 to finish fourth in the section.
In a nutshell
The lack of a killer touch cost Poland dear. They got off to a perfect start in the opening game against Greece through Robert Lewandowski's 17th-minute goal, but failed to build on their superiority and ended up dropping two points against a team who played most of the game with ten men. Against Russia they found themselves a goal behind having dominated the early stages of the game although Franciszek Smuda's side showed great character to salvage a draw against more powerful opponents. However, the same frailty was evident in the third game against the Czech Republic as a lack of ruthlessness emboldened opponents who had managed to weather the early storm.
The 1-1 draw against Russia in the second game was Poland's finest hour at UEFA EURO 2012, the highlight being captain Jakub Błaszczykowski's spectacular second-half equaliser which was one of the goals of the tournament. At the time the consensus suggested Poland could use this as a springboard to reach the quarter-finals; alas, it proved to be a false dawn.
Reserve goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń made the most of his opportunity, saving a penalty with his first touch having replaced the dismissed Wojciech Szczęsny in the opening game against Greece and then establishing himself as the first choice for the next two fixtures.
Hope for the future
None of the younger generation of players had much of an opportunity to shine at UEFA EURO 2012, but the experience of Borussia Dortmund trio Łukasz Piszczek, Błaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski will be invaluable in terms of nurturing the likes of Maciej Rybus and Rafał Wolski in future campaigns.
Two goals scored in three games tells its own story.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow but we didn't take advantage of the opportunities we created and lost the game."
Outgoing coach Franciszek Smuda sums up the campaign following Poland's 1-0 defeat against the Czech Republic.
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