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Euro 2024: Austria win boosts last 16 hopes but Poland are out

By primenewsghana
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Two late goals gave Austria a hard-fought win that boosted their hopes of reaching the last 16 at Euro 2024, but Poland became the first nation to be knocked out.

This result, followed by France’s draw with the Netherlands later on Friday, meant Poland will finish bottom of Group D even if they win their final game.

After Austria and Poland had lost their opening matches, they both came to Berlin knowing that another defeat could spell the end of their tournament.

The high stakes gave the encounter the feel of a knockout tie, with both sets of fans creating a noisy atmosphere at the Olympiastadion, matched by a frenetic tempo on the pitch.

It was Austria who struck first, when Gernot Trauner rose at the near post to head home Phillipp Mwene’s cross.

Poland were struggling to get out of their own half at that point but quickly improved and began pushing for an equaliser.

It arrived after 30 minutes, when a cross from the right was not properly cleared, and although Jan Bednarek’s shot was blocked, Krzysztof Piatek was first to the rebound to fire low into the net.

Clear chances were at a premium after that, even when Poland’s talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski belatedly emerged off the bench, but as the game entered the final stages it was Austria who found the inspiration they needed.

Marko Arnautovic’s dummy allowed Christoph Baumgartner time and space to advance to the edge of the area, before he coolly slotted past Wojciech Szczesny.

Austria’s victory was sealed a few minutes later. With Poland pouring forward in search of an equaliser, Marcel Sabitzer ran clear and although he was brought down by Szczesny, Arnautovic converted the resulting penalty.

Poland the first team to go home

Arnautovic’s goal sparked wild celebrations from the Austria fans, who had seen their side narrowly beaten by France in their opening game but now travel to Dortmund on Tuesday to take on the Dutch with renewed hope they can still progress.

Poland, meanwhile, became the first of the 24 teams participating in Euro 2024 to be eliminated when the Netherlands failed to beat France in Leipzig.

Poland can still finish level on points with Austria, who are currently third, but in that situation the head-to-head record between the two will come into play.

This defeat means Poland only have pride to play for now, even if their record goalscorer Lewandowski is able to start their final match against France after recovering from his thigh injury.

Lewandowski was only brought off the bench for the final half an hour here and, although his introduction was greeted by a wild reaction from Poland fans in the stands, he was unable to have the desired impact in front of goal.

His team-mates could not supply him with a single chance to add to his tally of 82 international goals and instead it was the combustible Arnautovic, starting his first competitive game for Austria since September, who settled things.