Poland struck twice on the break to stun wasteful World Cup winners Germany 2-0 on Saturday, earning their first ever victory over their illustrious neighbours and taking control of Euro 2016 qualifying Group D.
Arkadiusz Milik put them ahead with a well-timed header in the 51st minute and Sebastian Mila added another late in the game to hand the hosts a memorable victory against bitter rivals Germany after 18 previous failed attempts.
The feat was even more impressive given Germany had not lost an away qualifier for either the World Cup or Euros since 1998. “In such games a squad gains its identity,” Poland coach Adam Nawalka told reporters. “I hope this will be the beginning of a new road for the national team. We made a small step, but let’s not be too euphoric. We play Scotland on Tuesday and this is our focus now.”
Poland, who had scored once in their previous six competitive meetings and had lost 12 of 18 games against either Germany or West Germany, now go top of Group D on six points, as many as Ireland. They are now unbeaten in their last seven European Championship qualifiers, equalling their all-time record. Germany are third on three points after two games.
Wearing the black and red striped tops they had last worn during their 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final in July, Germany had control of the game but were wasteful with their chances.
“Obviously we are very disappointed,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “But I can’t say much about the team. The only thing is that we were a bit sloppy with our chances in the first half. Also in the second half we played well and created chances but Poland scored with their first dangerous ball. Our game execution was good. Our finishing wasn’t.”
The Germans, playing in the stadium where they lost 2-1 to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-final, were made to work hard against a solid Polish backline in front of a fiery 57,000 crowd. Towering central defenders Kamil Glik and Lukasz Szukala also made sure to eliminate any aerial threat from Mats Hummels, playing his first game for Germany since the World Cup final.
The visitors, missing half a dozen starters including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marco Reus, had their best chance in the 38th minute when Mario Goetze floated a cross to the far post but winger Karim Bellarabi, on his debut, fired wired.
They gradually wore the Poles down and towards the end of the first half found more and more space down the wings to feed the ball into the box. They carved out several more good chances but neither Thomas Mueller twice nor Bellarabi could find the back of the net.
The hosts, who had hardly ventured out of their own half in the first period, broke the deadlock five minutes after the restart with Milik heading in a pinpoint Lukasz Piszczek cross. Manuel Neuer made a half-hearted attempt to come out of his goal but his late start saw Milik’s glancing header fly past him.