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Poland kick off in fine fashion

 The Hawk |  2016-06-13 05:32:20.0  0  Comments

Poland kick off in fine fashion

Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik broke Northern Ireland hearts on Sunday after rifling home the only goal in their Euro 2016 Group C opener in Nice. Poland had never won a game before at the European Championship, with three draws and three losses over two appearances in 2008 and 2012 � the latter a tournament that they co-hosted with Ukraine. Now they can look forward to a spicy tie with neighbours Germany in the Stade de France on June 16 with eyes on a spot in the last 16. The result dents Northern Ireland�s pre-tournament hopes of qualifying from a tough group as one of the four best third-placed teams, with a win now essential against Ukraine in Lyon the same day. Adam Nawalka's side dominated the game but took time to break down a stubborn defence, Milik's strike early in the second half coming after several missed chances in the first. For Michael O'Neill's side, it was a disappointing end to their first ever European Championship match, and first major tournament appearance since the 1986 World Cup. They entered the game unbeaten in a record 12 matches, but although they held their more vaunted opponents scoreless until half-time, they ultimately paid for an over-defensive approach in the impressive Stadium Nice. From the off Poland dominated possession but struggled to penetrate close to goal against a back-four stoutly marshalled by Jonny Evans. With their star Robert Lewandowski bottled up by a dogged Northern Ireland defence and Milik misfiring on several occasions, it was a frustrating opening period for Poland. Top scorers in qualifying for Euro 2016, they managed just two shots on target in the first period. The first was on the half-hour when a left-footed drive by Milik from outside the box was easily parried by Michael McGovern. Then as a scrappy half drew to a close, Poland almost broke the deadlock when a left-foot snapshot by the lively Bartosz Kapustka from the edge of the area was superbly tipped over by McGovern. Northern Ireland, whose striker Kyle Lafferty was their only player in the opposing half for much of the game, soon paid for their defensive approach. Six minutes into the second period Milik made no mistake when firing through the legs of Craig Cathcart after Jakub Blaszczykowski found him unmarked on the edge of the area.

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