Three goals, a controversial penalty and a record-setting strike; the first half of the Euro 2016 qualifying Group D showdown between Poland and the Republic of Ireland had it all.
The Poles took a 13th-minute lead through Grzegorz Krychowiak, who sent this superb volley into the bottom corner after he was picked out on the edge of the box by a training-ground corner routine.
The Sevilla star was heavily linked with Arsenal by Sky Sports in the summer. Judging by this goal, he would have added real class and technique as well as much-needed bite to the Gunners’ midfield.
Ireland equalised within two minutes after being awarded a controversial penalty for a high foot against Shane Long, although Michal Pazdan’s challenge appeared to be outside of the area.
Jonathan Walters stepped up to slot the spot kick into the bottom corner. At the other end, Robert Lewandowski felt that he should have had a penalty of his own following a tangle with John O’Shea.
Lewandowski would have the last laugh though, as he headed Poland into a 2-1 half-time lead after good work from Krzysztof Maczynski. His 13th goal of the campaign is a record for Euro qualifying.
The prolific Bayern Munich striker’s 15th goal in his last six games makes Poland favourites to automatically reach France alongside Germany, who will top the group with victory over Georgia.
But all is not lost for Ireland, whose head-to-head record against the Poles means that any score draw from this scenario would be enough to secure them a top-two finish and consign Poland to the playoffs.
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