Euzebiusz Smolarek scored both of Poland's goals as they defeated Portugal 2-1 in Chorzow to leapfrog their opponents into fourth place in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group A.
The hosts fully deserved a victory which they earned thanks to a blistering start from Smolarek, the BV Borussia Dortmund forward striking twice inside the opening 18 minutes. A Nuno Gomes goal in added time was not enough to prevent Portugal's first defeat in their bid to qualify for the tournament in Austria and Switzerland and they now lie six points behind the leaders Serbia in fifth place, albeit with a game in hand.
Poland coach Leo Beenhakker named the same starting XI which beat Kazakhstan at the weekend, while Luiz Felipe Scolari only made one change to the Portugal team that confidently brushed aside Azerbaijan, Maniche dropping to the bench in favour of Petit. But it was the hosts who came out of the blocks faster, dominating the opening exchanges and enjoying the majority of the possession.
So it was no surprise when they broke the deadlock after only nine minutes. Smolarek picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area and calmly placed his effort past the diving Ricardo and into the back of the net. The goal seemed to stun the visitors, but worse was to come nine minutes later as Poland doubled their advantage - Smolarek dispatching his second following a perfect cross from the lively Grzegorz Rasiak.
Serbia on top
Portugal pushed in search of a reponse before the break, only for their efforts to end in frustration as Poland stood firm defensively. The home side looked the more likely scorers after the restart and Smolarek was unlucky not to claim a hat-trick after Ricardo turned his shot wide. Portugal's possession increased as time ticked by, but Nuno Gomes's conversion of Simão's centre was no consolation.