Poland dispatch minnows Northern Ireland | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 12.06.2016
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Poland dispatch minnows Northern Ireland

Poland failed to impress but do enough to get past the underdogs from Northern Ireland 1-0. Despite the mismatch, the "white and green army" celebrated their team on its maiden run in Europe's football elite.

The inaugural match of group C pitted dark horses Poland, led by Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, against Northern Ireland, another country making its big tournament debut at Euro 2016.

As expected, the Poles went on the attack right from the start, but for the first half-hour they seemed not to know quite what to make of their opponents - a bit like a bulldog puzzled by a barking Chihuahua's refusal to step to one side.

Lewandowski, in particular, had troubled getting productively involved. Instead it was his strike partner Arkadiusz Milik who created the first golden opportunity of the match. But the Ajax Amsterdam blazed a pass by Dortmund's Lukasz Piszczek well over the bar from close range.

In minute 39, Bartoz Kaputska drew a good save from Michael McGovern, but otherwise Poland disappointed, and the teams went to the changing rooms with the match scoreless.

Frankreich Fußball-EM Polen vs. Nordirland in Nizza

Underdogs Northern Ireland can't complain about lack of support

That changed only six minutes after the restart, as Poland laid siege to Northern Ireland's goal. Jakub Blaszczykowski teeds up Milik, who broke the ice with a low hummer from 13 meters out.

With the favorites enjoying a massive advantage in possession and their opponents rarely getting a shot at goal, Poland shifted down a gear or two. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had to get down on the ground to clear the ball from an onrushing Conor Washington, but otherwise Poland were in complete control.

Piszczek and Szczesny created a spot of drama in injury time, when they collided with one another in the box, but a surprise draw was never really on the cards.

Still, the Northern Irish supporters will have won over a few hearts in Nice, indefatigably cheering on their team until the final whistle of its 1-0 defeat.

Northern Ireland will try to break their European Championship duck on Thursday against Ukraine in Lyon. Poland will face an exponentially sterner test when they go up against Germany in Saint-Denis.

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