Poland 2-3 Portugal
Portugal put on an impressive display in an action-packed game in Chorzów. The Poles took the lead early on through a Krzysztof Piatek header. However, goals from André Silva, a Kamil Glik own goal, and a brilliant Bernardo Silva effort put the Seleção ahead.
There was controversy after Rui Patrício was beaten by Jakub Błaszczykowski's superb shot but that goal ultimately didn't deny Portugal the victory in a polished performance in Poland.
Portugal were without Cristiano Ronaldo again but that no longer seems to be a hinderance for Fernando Santos' men. Winger Bruma was a late absentee due to illness so Santos elected to use his three Silvas in attack with Bernardo Silva, Rafa Silva, and André Silva forming the forward line.
On paper Poland looked a bigger threat than last opponents Italy, with the forward duo of Krzysztof Piatek, in impressive goal-scoring form, and Robert Lewandowski, making his 100th appearance for Poland, set to be a big test for Portugal’s defence.
It was a fast-paced and even game from the very beginning in front of a packed Silesian Stadium in Chorzów. André Silva almost put Portugal in the lead when his attempted heel flick of Mário Rui’s cross when just over Lukasz Fabianski’s goal.
Piatek puts Poland ahead
However it was the home side who took the lead in the 18th minute when Rafal Kurzawa’s corner went over the hands of Rui Patrício and Krzysztof Piatek rose highest to head home. The striker continued his superb goalscoring run, now scoring in his 6th consecutive game.
Portugal responded well and Rafa Silva had the ball in the net soon afterwards but only after an offside flag from the assistant referee.
There could be no doubt about another of the Silva’s next effort. Pizzi made a smart run behind the Poland defence. The Benfica man easily found André Silva to find the mark for Portugal yet again from close range.
Portugal’s right-hand side was producing some fantastic attacking football with João Cancelo, Pizzi, and Bernardo Silva all combining well.
Neves cuts Poland's defence apart
Despite the great work on the ground, Portugal took the lead with a beautiful pinpoint long pass from Rúben Neves to Rafa Silva. Rafa rounded Fabianski and was just about to place the ball into an empty net before Kamil Glik’s attempt to prevent the goal ended up in the back of the net. The goal gave Portugal a deserved lead just before half-time.
Portugal increased their advantage 7 minutes after the restart. It came from a superb flowing move that began with great play from Mário Rui and ended with some great individual play from Bernardo. The Manchester City man did well to find space for himself and Fabianski couldn’t stop his low effort from outside the box.
After the third goal Poland found a firm footing in the game and Portugal looked like they had lost their attacking impetus. In the 74th minute Pepe received a yellow card for a typically rash challenge meaning the defender will now miss Portugal’s trip to Milan to face Italy in November.
Poland almost pulled one back from a set piece again when Jan Bednarek headed inches wide from a freekick.
It was a warning that Portugal should have heeded. A few minutes later substitute Jakub Błaszczykowski rifled a shot past Patrício to set up a nervous finish for Portugal when it should have been comfortable. There was controversy however, as Kamil Grosicki had clearly run the ball out of play on in the build-up but without VAR in the UEFA Nations League the goal stood.
Renato Sanches could have sealed the game for Portugal in the 84th minute. André Silva put the resurgent Bayern Munich midfielder through on goal, he easily went past Fabianski but his effort was thwarted by a last second clearance off the goal line by a Polish defender.
Portugal had another great chance to seal the victory in stoppage time when André Silva drew Fabianski out of position. He pulled the ball back to Bruno Fernandes but the Sporting midfielder, who had entered the game just seconds before, skied his effort and the score remained 3-2 to Portugal at the final whistle.
This was an important and impressive victory in the Nations League that will add further confidence into a post-Ronaldo future for Portugal. The first 70 minutes in particular was some of the most entertaining football that the Seleção have played recently and based on the two previous games the future looks bright.
Next up for Portugal is a tricky fixture away to Italy, made even more difficult without the suspended Pepe commanding the defence but perhaps it will be the Italian defence that is more worried about the likes of Bernardo, Neves and André Silva.
by Richard Cole
Portugal: Rui Patrício; João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Mário Rui; William Carvalho, Rúben Neves, Pizzi (Renato Sanches, 75’); Bernardo Silva (Bruno Fernandes, 90’), André Silva, Rafa Silva (Danilo Pereira, 85’)
Poland: Lukasz Fabianski; Bartosz Bereszynski (Tomasz Kedziora, 46’), Kamil Glik, Jan Bednarek, Artur Jedrzejczyk; Piotr Zielinski, Grzeg Krychowiak, Mateusz Klich (Jakub Błaszczykowski, 63’), Rafal Kurzawa (Kamil Grosicki, 63’); Robert Lewandowski, Krzysztof Piatek
[1-0] Krzysztof Piatek, 18‘
[1-1] André Silva, 32’
[1-2] Kamil Glik (OG), 43’
[1-3] Bernardo Silva, 52’
[2-3] Jakub Błaszczykowski, 77’