Gerard Moreno’s missed penalty condemned Spain to a frustrating second draw of Euro 2020 as Robert Lewandowski earned Poland a 1-1 draw in Seville.
Alvaro Morata got Spain off to the perfect start with the opener on 25 minutes, vindicating Luis Enrique’s decision to start him after his catalogue of misses in their opening goalless draw with Sweden.
Lewandowski introduced himself to the tournament in style with an exquisite header early in the second half, as he became the first Poland player to score at three European Championships.
Spain were handed the chance to restore their lead just three minutes later when Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder was rather harshly penalised following a VAR review for stepping on Moreno, but having dusted himself down, the Villarreal striker was denied by the post.
The draw keeps Poland’s qualification hopes for the knockout stage alive, they remain bottom of Group E, a point and a place behind Spain, with it all to play for in the final group games.
Spain still seek first Euro 2020 win
Poland made the more positive start of the two sides in Seville. Piotr Zielinski saw an early appeal for a penalty turned down after receiving contact from Morata in the area, before Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich sent an effort dipping onto the roof of the Spanish net.
Gerard Moreno replaced Ferran Torres as Spain’s only change from the goalless draw against Sweden.
Brighton’s Jakub Moder, Tymoteusz Puchacz and Karol Swiderski were drafted into the Poland team after their opening-day defeat to Slovakia.
Dani Olmo fashioned Spain’s first attempt on goal shortly before the quarter-hour mark, though his effort was straight at Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Spain’s eagerness to pull the trigger resulted in the promising position their progressive play had created being wasted, but they were finally rewarded midway through the half.
Morata played on the shoulder of the Polish defence and ghosted in to turn Moreno’s wayward shot past Juventus team-mate Szczesny at close range. The offside flag went up immediately, but after spotting Bartosz Bereszynski had kept the Juventus forward onside, VAR intervened to reignite Spain celebrations.
One could have become two on 34 minutes but having wrapped a free-kick around the Poland wall, Moreno’s effort flashed inches wide of the post. Poland should have levelled a minute later, but Karol Swiderski inexcusably tried to convert Lewandowski’s cross with his foot rather than his head and hook their best opening over the bar.
Polish heads were in Polish hands for a second time before the half drew a close, with Swiderski rattling the post with a venomous left-footed drive, before Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon stayed big to prevent Lewandowski from converting the rebound.
Things could have got a lot worse had Moreno’s volley found the back of the Poland net instead of the side-netting on the stroke of half-time, but Poland reached the interval with just the one-goal deficit, and needed just nine minutes into the second period to restore parity.
Moder initiated a flowing Poland attack which culminated in Kamil Jozwiak floating a gorgeous cross into the area for talisman Lewandowski to steer home with a trademark towering header.
Poland’s were level for barely three minutes when referee Daniele Orsato was instructed to visit the pitchside monitor by VAR after Moreno went to ground until a challenge from Moder.
The Italian official pointed to the spot, but Spain failed to restore their lead as Moreno cannoned his spot-kick against the post and Morata bundled the rebound wide.
Poland’s attacking threat steadily diminished as Spain pushed for their first victory of the tournament, but despite having tonnes of possession, the hosts lacked the penetration.
Morata drew a fingertip save from Szczesny and Rodri’s rasping volley sailed into the arms of the Polish stopper as Spain applied late pressure, but Poland survived some nervy moments to get their first point on the board.
Slow starters Spain – Match stats
Spain have opened a Euros tournament with no wins from their opening two matches for the first time since the 1996 edition.
Poland have lost just one of their eight major tournament games in Spain (W3 D4 L1), with tonight’s game their first such fixture since playing seven times during the 1982 World Cup.
Following Gerard Moreno’s penalty miss, Spain have failed to score five of their last eight penalties (excluding shootouts) at the European Championships.
Spain have now drawn each of their last four matches at major tournaments (World Cups and Euros), their longest ever run of draws across those two competitions.
Álvaro Morata has scored four of Spain’s last five goals at European Championship finals; indeed, only Fernando Torres (five) has ever scored more goals in the competition for the nation.
Since his debut for the national side in October 2019, Gerard Moreno has been directly involved in nine goals for Spain (five goals, four assists), more than any other player for them in this time.
What the managers said…
Spain head coach Luis Enrique: “I have the greatest urge to watch and analyse the match. It hasn’t left us with the best feeling – perhaps we were the dominant team, but it wasn’t enough to force the victory. I liked how Poland played. They created clear chances. We probably tried too hard and overdid things instead of creating clear-cut opportunities. Missing the penalty was a pity because it was at an absolutely crucial moment.”
Poland head coach Paulo Sousa: “We knew that Spain have a lot of quality. They love to dominate and win challenges. The game was intense, and our substitutes helped us a lot. I encouraged the players to be more courageous in the second half. We saw a few leaders on the pitch – most of all Robert Lewandowski. He fought all over the pitch, won challenges, passed, ran a lot and was involved in almost every move. His energy was shared by everyone. If you have one of the best in the world who can work like that, it has a huge impact on the team.”