Tuesday, October 17

Result: Late penalty rescues hosts Poland in Under-21 European Championships

Hosts Poland score a stoppage-time penalty to earn a 2-2 draw with Sweden and keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Under-21 European Championships alive.

A stoppage-time penalty from Dawid Kownacki earned Poland a 2-2 draw against holders Sweden in the Under-21 European Championships this evening, keeping the host nation's semi-final hopes alive.

Poland had looked on course for an early exit in the group stages after squandering a one-goal lead for the second game in a row, with strikes from Carlos Strandberg and Jacob Une-Larsson cancelling out Lukasz Moneta's opener.

However, Kownacki popped up with the equaliser in the 91st minute to give Poland their first point of the tournament and leave them in with a slim chance of making it into the last four.

The hosts remain bottom of Group A, but victory over England on Thursday would see them finish on four points - which could be enough for a three-way tie for top spot and the only automatic place in the semi-finals.

Poland took the lead inside the very first minute of their opening game against Slovakia, and they were ahead early on again tonight when the two changes to the side from matchday one combined.

Kownacki returned from suspension and showed what Poland had been missing when he skipped past Dagerstol before pulling a low ball back for Moneta, who buried a clinical first-time finish into the bottom corner with aplomb.

The hosts went on to squander their lead in the opening game but, while that would be their fate again this evening, they continued their bright start to the contest when Mariusz Stepinski latched on to a through-ball inside the box, only to be denied by Anton Cajtoft.

Sweden's efforts to get themselves back into the match saw them pick up two yellow cards for diving inside the box, and it was Poland who were the next to come close again when Stepinski's knockdown was just too far in front of Przemyslaw Frankowski for him to hook it on target.

Sweden almost levelled things up shortly before the half-hour mark when Strandberg capitalised on a defensive mix-up to find himself with a shooting opportunity, but he could only place a tame finish straight at the keeper.

Pawel Cibicki, who switched allegiances from Poland to Sweden last year, then fired an ambitious volley wide of the target before the holders did finally restore parity with nine minutes remaining of the first half.

Some good football from the Swedes created a shooting chance for Alexander Fransson, and Jakub Wrabel in the Poland goal could only push that effort into the path of Strandberg, who converted the rebound with a stooping header from close range.

Melker Hallberg then mistimed a header having lost his marker from a corner in the middle of the area, but Poland failed to heed that warning and Sweden's second goal came from a similar route just one minute later.

This time it was Une-Larsson who rose unchallenged in the box, and his header was timed to perfection as he glanced the ball past Wrabel to make it two goals in the space of just five minutes.

Poland went into half time knowing that they would crash out of the competition if nothing changed in the second 45 minutes, and they set about looking to avoid that with Stepinski and Karol Linetty forcing two saves from Cajtoft in quick succession.

Sweden almost hammered another nail into the hosts' coffin with a little over 20 minutes remaining when Hallberg tried his luck from range, unleashing a dipping and swerving strike which rippled the top of the netting on its way over the top.

Gustav Engvall then forced a routine stop from Wrabel as Sweden went in search of a two-goal cushion, but it was Poland who applied the late pressure and Cajtoft was forced into two saves to deny Kownacki and Linetty in quick succession before Jaroslaw Niezgoda failed to make the most of a presentable chance from the resulting corner.

There was to be late drama after all, though, as having dished out three yellow cards for simulation in the same penalty area, the referee finally pointed to the spot in the 90th minute when Dagerstal dragged his man to the ground.

Kownacki stepped up to take the pressure spot kick, but coolly sent the keeper the wrong way and tucked his finish into the bottom corner to give the hosts a slim lifeline.

A draw is not an ideal result for either side, but all four teams in Group A could now finish in the one guaranteed semi-final spot heading into the final day on Thursday, with England currently leading the way ahead of Slovakia on three points, Sweden on two and Poland on one.

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