A power cut at the Legia Stadium in Warsaw helped Euzebiusz Smolarek find his edge as his hat-trick against Kazakhstan pushed Poland towards UEFA EURO 2008™.
Leo Beenhakker's side further enhanced their hopes of reaching a first UEFA European Championship final tournament in a dramatic game in Warsaw, despite going in at the interval a goal down. However, a brief power cut early in the second half – which saw lights go out in the stadium – seemed to have a magical effect on the Group A leaders and Smolarek in particular.
'We played awfully'
The 26-year-old Real Racing Club Santander player scored three goals between the 56th and 66th minutes to leave Poland needing a win at home against Belgium in their next qualifier on 17 November to seal a place at UEFA EURO 2008™. "We played awfully in the first half," he conceded. "Nothing worked out for us while the Kazakhs had one attack and scored a goal.
"When the light goes off people usually go to sleep," he added with a smile. "We woke up. I don't know why it was so difficult for us in the first half but the most important thing is that we managed to turn the game around. It was an important step towards qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008™. We hope that we will make the final step in the next game against Belgium."
It proved to be a great evening for Poland as both Serbia and Finland were held to 0-0 draws to move further out of contention for a finals place. Beenhakker said: "We have seen once again that there are no weak teams in football nowadays. We played badly in the first half and much better in the second. I am happy with the result, especially given Serbia and Finland's draws."
'In great form'
The Dutchman added: "Smolarek is a player who can push the tempo and score a goal in every game. He is in great form and did a fantastic job." Forward Maciej Żurawkski, who came on at half-time, added: "I think we can be happy with this win although it was not a great game. We showed our character in the second half when we pushed forward and achieved our aim."
'Emotion and nerves'
"There was a lot of emotion and nerves," conceded winger Jacek Krzynówek. "We lacked accuracy and effectiveness in the first half but the goals were only a matter of time. We scored the first one and then the other goals came quickly. We are all very happy with the fact that qualification is close at hand." After playing at home against Belgium, Poland travel to Serbia on 21 November.
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