Malopolska 1-1 Central Slovakia A superb goalkeeping display from Peter Pernis denies the hosts.
By Jim Wirth in Brzesko
Honours were even in Brzesko as Polish hosts Malopolska and neighbours Central Slovakia drew 1-1 in their opening UEFA Regions' Cup Group A game.
Two goals in the space of two first-half minutes seemed to be the prelude for a feast of goals. In the end, however, it was Central Slovakia goalkeeper Peter Pernis who took the plaudits as he saved his team time-and-time again in front of a fine crowd in the sunny OKS Okocimski stadium.
In off the post
Pernis had been called into action as early as the second minute as he fended off a drive from Malopolska's Tomasz Swierkosz, and soon after he got down low to deny Lukasz Nocon from barely five metres. Although Central Slovakia looked dangerous in the following minutes, it was to be the hosts who opened the scoring as Pawel Brak's free-kick from the corner of the box curled in off Pernis's right-hand post via a deflection off Miroslav Laco.
Central Slovakia left-back Laco may have been disappointed not to have cleared Brak's shot off the line, but he made amends within a minute of the restart. As the Polish defence retreated, he hit a speculative shot from 25 metres which flew into the top corner of Krzysztof Szot's goal.
From then on the game was all about Pernis as he continually kept his side in contention. A superb double save in the 28th minute saw him fend off two shots from the edge of the box in succession. After 41 minutes, a looping ball bounced through his defence leaving Swierkosz through on goal, but the keeper got down at his feet to make another fine stop.
He denied the same player again five minutes into the second half, but the game was not one-way traffic. After 60 minutes, a cross from the dangerous Richard Privitzer found the head of Jozef Letrik but his header flashed wide. None the less, the powerful Poles looked to have the beating of the guileful Slovakians as the clock ticked down.
After 75 minutes, Malopolska should have had the winning goal. The ball came into Pernis's box from the right, avoided a crowd of players and found Rafal Bryl unmarked at the far post. However, with the goal gaping, he drove the ball across the goal and wide. Perhaps it was the bit of luck that the goalkeeper's performance deserved.