Jakub Blaszczykowski of Poland (L) and Ukraine.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ALI HAIDER

Poland reached the knock-out stages of the European Championship for the first time after clinching second place in Group C Tuesday thanks to Jakub Blaszczykowski's goal in a 1-0 defeat of bottom team Ukraine.

Poland - who have still not conceded a goal - will face Switzerland in the round of 16 in St Etienne on Saturday.

"We are very pleased to have won and to continue in the tournament," Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski said.

"We were hoping to finish first in the group but that was not to be. Even so, we are pleased to have reached the next round."

Poland finished with seven points, the same number as group winners Germany, who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in Paris and have a better goal difference than the Poles.

Northern Ireland were third with three points.

Meanwhile, hapless Ukraine finished bottom with zero points and not a single goal scored.

The game in Marseille was preceded by ugly incidents between the two sets of fans, with the police using tear gas to disperse them and making at least four arrests, according to news agency AFP.

Poland started brightly but star striker Robert Lewandowski - who has not managed a single shot on target in three games - missed an easy early chance.

Already eliminated Ukraine dominated the rest of the first half but lacked a cutting edge in attack.

The only goal came in the 54th minute, when substitute Blaszczykowski broke the deadlock with a delicious curling left-foot drive.

However, with Lewandowski in poor form, and with the Ukraine defence looking solid, more goals for Poland rarely looked a realistic possibility.

Their chance of overhauling Germany at the top of the group slipped away but qualification for the knock-out stages, having missed out in 2008 and when co-hosting the Euros in 2012, was all important.  

Meanwhile, Ukraine fared even worse than in 2012, when they were co-hosts with Poland and managed to pick up three points by beating Sweden.

They are the only team to have failed to score a goal after three matches.

Coach Mikhail Fomenko is due to step down and veteran captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is set to retire from international football, at the age of 37.

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