Poland 0-1 Belgium: Batshuayi header cements second spot for Red Devils
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Belgium survived a late Poland rally in Warsaw to earn their second win in Group A4 courtesy of Michy Batshuayi's first-half header.
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Belgium earned their second win of the campaign and moved three points clear of Poland in second place in Group A4 after Michy Batshuayi's header secured victory in Warsaw.
16' Batshuayi heads in Tielemans cross
30' Szymański shoots over crossbar
45' Zalewski goes close with shot
83' Szczęsny denies Trossard
90' Świderski header hits woodwork
Match in brief: Belgium survive scare to earn second win
Belgium dominated the ball for much of the first half in Warsaw, seeking openings against opponents with Robert Lewandowski restored as their spearhead.
Their pressure told in the 16th minute, Michy Batshuayi meeting a classy Youri Tielemans cross from the right with a powerful header beyond Wojciech Szczęsny.
Backed by a bouncing home crowd, Poland began to play a higher line, Lewandowski encouraging his team-mates to close the gap between midfield and attack.
They were rewarded with excellent chances for Sebastian Szymański and Nicola Zalewski, only for both players to shoot wide when well placed inside the penalty area.
Poland were urged on every time they attacked but Belgium looked comfortable after the break. With time ticking down, the visitors retained possession serenely, causing Czesław Michniewicz to change his midfield in an attempt to wrestle control of the ball.
In a frantic closing passage, Jacek Góralski flashed a first-time volley over the crossbar and Loïs Openda tested Szczęsny either side of Leandro Trossard going close for Belgium at the other end.
As the game entered added time, Karol Świderski headed Lewandowski's delightful cross against the woodwork, frustrating a crowd of almost 57,000. Belgium therefore held on, moving three points above Poland in second place and three behind section leaders the Netherlands.
Piotr Koźmiński, match reporter
Poland were far better than in their 6-1 defeat when these teams first met, but it was still not enough to earn a point. Belgium impressed with their ability to control the game and to adjust the pace of it as they wanted. The hosts were much better in the second half and could even have equalised, Świderski going close twice — but it was not to be.
Czesław Michniewicz, Poland coach: "There is no difference between our first and second games against Belgium because the result is the same: we did not get any points. But of course, we played differently tonight. We realised after the first game that we are not able to play open football against Belgium."
Karol Świderski, Poland striker: "We had some good chances in the final minutes of the game and I regret we did not convert them. It is a pity we lost as we have gone a long time without losing at home. But we are calm — there is lot of time yet before the World Cup finals and I am sure we will be ready."
Jakub Kiwior, Poland defender: "I am happy that I got a chance again, like in the game against Netherlands. I played well and guess I will get more chances. It is a pity we did not score tonight, despite having good opportunities in the dying minutes. One point would have been very precious for us."
Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach: "I am very satisfied after this game. We were able to control it; we did not allow Poland to create many chances. We had good possesion of the ball. I just regret that we did not score a second goal which would have killed the game earlier. But I am pleased with how we performed in defence."
Timothy Castagne, Belgium defender: "For sure, we must be more focused, because in the final minutes we put ourselves in trouble. If we allow opponents to press us more, it becomes dangerous. The important thing was to win and we did that. The overall result from these four games is not fully satisfactory. We sometimes lose points too easily."
Thorgan Hazard, Belgium midfielder: "We controlled the game in the first half, created some chances and scored. But in the final minutes we were in trouble. It's good for us that Simon [Mignolet] helped to save the result. To keep a clean sheet was something important."
- Belgium have scored in 48 consecutive international matches, last drawing a blank against France in the 2018 World Cup semi-final.
- Belgium have found the net in each of their last 16 UEFA Nations League matches.
- The Red Devils kept a clean sheet for only the second time in 11 games in the competition.
- They have lost one of their last 11 matches, winning seven.
- Batshuayi has now scored 25 times in 45 international appearances.
- Poland failed to score for the first time in 22 matches.
Poland: Szczęsny; Cash, Wieteska (Grosicki 84), Glik, Kiwior; Szymański (Klich 70), Żurkowski, Linetty (Góralski 84), Zalewski (Frankowski 57); Lewandowski, Zieliński (Świderski 57)
Belgium: Mignolet; Alderweireld, Dendoncker, Vertonghen; Castagne, Tielemans, Witsel (Vanaken 46), T Hazard (Foket 62); Mertens (De Ketelaere 80), Batshuayi (Openda 67), E Hazard (Trossard 67)
What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?
The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023 with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June.
The teams finishing fourth in the groups in League A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.