A stunning second-half strike from captain Jakub Blaszczykowski earned Poland a share of the points in a fiercely contested encounter with Russia in Warsaw.

Continuing on from their fine performance against the Czech Republic, Russia took a deserved lead eight minutes from the end of the first-half through Alan Dzagoev's third goal of these European Championships. But Blaszczykowski's 57th minute goal was enough to give Poland a draw that they will feel their second-half endeavors fully warranted.

While Russia still top Group A and will only need to avoid defeat to Greece in their final match to progress, Poland must now beat the Czech Republic on Saturday in order to make the last eight.

The match kicked-off to an electric atmosphere inspired by the fierce rivalry between the two Eastern European nations that had been ramped up by clashes between the two sets of fans during a Russian march earlier in the day. An unveiling of a huge banner proclaiming This is Russia did little to calm matters.

The contest began in a manner befitting the atmosphere as the ball flowed end to end at high tempo. The first clear-cut chance fell Poland's way as Sebastian Boenisch forced a smart low save from Vyacheslav Malafeev with a header from Ludovic Obraniak's cross.

With Dariusz Dudka brought into the lineup at the expense of the more attack-minded Maciej Rybus, Poland at times struggled to provide able support for lone front man Robert Lewandowski. The Borussia Dortmund man almost forged an opening out of nothing, though, as he controlled a ball on the edge of the box before hitting a rasping volley that just sailed over the bar.

On one of the rare occasions where Poland did provide runners off of Lewandowski it very nearly paid dividends. The physically imposing number nine took possession on the edge of the box and played a clever ball through to find Eugen Polanski, who duly put the chance away, but replays showed that the referee's assistant was right to raise his offside flag.

As the half progressed Russia began to control proceedings with quick passing and plenty of willing movement, particularly from Alexander Kerzhakov. But following his profligacy against the Czech Republic, the forward continued his streak of misfortune in front of goal.

After being denied a penalty following a dangerously high boot from Damien Perquis, Kerzhkaov put a tame header wide of the post from Andrey Arshavin's cross.

It took until the 37th minute for Russia to get the goal that their play warranted ,with little surprise in the combination that provided it. From the left, Arshavin whipped in a free-kick that was just begging someone to get their head on the end of, and Dzagoev gleefuly obliged as he took advantage of some embarrassingly lapse Polish marking to flick a deft header past Przemyslaw Tyton.

When the second half got underway, both teams showed the same enthusiasm to get forward as they demonstrated at the beginning of the opening period. Lewandowski almost taking advantage as he twice got behind the Russian back line only to be denied the opportunity to get an effort in on goal.

Marked by Eugen Polanski given greater licence to move forward, Poland showed increased positivity in the second period. And it would not be long before they reaped the benfits as a goal of the highest order brought them level.

Blaszczykowski cut inside from the right, escaping the attentions of Yuri Zhirkov as he did so, before unleashing an unstoppable curling effort on his weaker left foot that blazed past Malafeev and into the far corner.

While nothing quite matched the quality of that effort, the match continued to be engaging right until the final whistle; Russia probing forward, with Poland consistently threatening on the counter attack.

Though Dzagoev came close to cementing his position as the tournament's top scorer, both sides were forced to settle for a draw that should leave neither overly disappointed.


Poland 1-1 Russia Highlights HD Euro2012 12.06... by eurorivals