Third time lucky Poland beat Northern Ireland for first Euro victory

Poland proved three times lucky as they finally picked up their first victory at a continental tournament by beating defensive minded debutants Northern Ireland 1-0 in their Euro 2016 opener on Sunday.

Arkadiusz Milik tallied the game winner in the 51st minute for Poland, who had three draws and three losses in their previous two Euros appearances in 2008 and 2012.

Poland top Group C at the moment with three points ahead of the Germany v Ukraine match later Sunday.

Northern Ireland, who entered their first Euro game with a 12-game unbeaten streak, are last with zero points.

Poland made their Euro debut in 2008 with defeats against Germany and Croatia as well as a draw against Austria. As co-hosts in 2012, Poland managed draws against Greece and Russia and a loss versus Czech Republic.

Poland wasted no time in grabbing their first win in their first match at Euro 2016 - though it was not easy as the Northern Ireland defence proved a tough nut to crack.

Northern Ireland played a tight, hard-nosed defence and did not let Poland create any real chances in the first 29 minutes of the game despite the Poles controlling ball possession.

The Ajax forward Milik attempted a long range shot but Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern had no problem corralling it.

Milik was much more dangerous two minutes later but he could not put his left foot shot on target - with McGovern facing a difficult save if he had.

Poland remained the dominant team and McGovern, who plays for Scottish club Hamilton, made a strong save on Bartosz Kapustka's blast in the 39th minute to keep it scoreless.

Making sure their defence stood first, Northern Ireland could not mount any dangerous attacks and did not even have a shot attempt in the first half.

Just like Poland, Milik was a third time lucky individually, opening the scoring on his third good chance of the game in the 51st minute.

Jakub Blszczykowski passed in from the right side with Milik touching it once before striking his left-footer between two defenders and past McGovern.

The goal forced Northern Ireland to pull forward and look for an equaliser. And Northern Ireland coach Michael O'Neill added a second forward in the 65th minute by bringing on Conor Washington.

The move gave Northern Ireland more run of play but they never really challenged Poland keeper Wojciech Szczeny with just two shot attempts in the game.

Poland substitute Kamil Grosicki was close to doubling the advantage but hit the side netting with nine minutes to play.

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis got space right of goal but could not get his foot on a dangerous ball minutes later and Poland's Grzegorz Krychowiak just went wide right in the 87th minute.

Last update: Sun, 12/06/2016 - 21:40
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