San Marino 0-2 Poland
Zbigniew Boniek had to wait 73 anxious minutes in his first competitive match in charge of Poland before his side scored against San Marino in this Group 4 encounter.
The Poles would add a second goal before the final whistle to open their EURO 2004™ qualifying campaign with a victory. For Boniek's side, the Sanmarinese provided stubborn opening opposition at the Serravalle stadium, but the Polish coach trusted his team to eventually find a way past San Marino goalkeeper Federico Gasperoni.
"I was never afraid of them, because our team was stronger, but I was worried that we would lose our concentration," Boniek said. "When you make so many shots on goal and nothing happens, players begin to become anxious because they feel the goal is unattainable in some way.
"The other result tonight in the group [Latvia drew 0-0 Sweden] teaches us that there are no easy matches in international football," he added. "Even though we were the stronger side, San Marino taught us that there are no walkovers in international football because, with their ultra-defensive tactics where half of the team defend, it is hard to break the deadlock. But once we scored once, we could have scored more."
Poland were eventually rewarded for their efforts in the 17 minutes from time when Pawel Kaczorowski shot past Gasperoni from nine metres when played in from Maciej Zurawski's excellent pass. Until then, Gasperoni had thwarted the Poles with some excellent reflex saves, but once the first goal was scored, the outcome was never in doubt and Mariusz Kukielka had time to head Poland's second from a corner two minutes from the end.