Poland, Portugal play out stalemate
© AFP

UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts Poland and qualifiers Portugal were unable to deliver a thriller for fans, drawing 0-0 in what was billed as one of the most important friendlies of the Poles' tournament preparation campaign.

Home supporters expecting a flood of goals at the first-ever game in Poland's new National Stadium, venue on 8 June of the opening match of EURO 2012, were sorely disappointed.

While the Poles' defence looked improved compared with previous outings, they showed up attacking weaknesses. They clearly missed injured star striker Robert Lewandowski, who has been riding high with his German club Borussia Dortmund.

Portugal, who were forced to earn their EURO 2012 berth via the play-offs, also displayed a lack of finesse, failing to build on their dominance of possession and a string of free-kicks and corners.

In a repeat of their battles in the English Premier League, Manchester United winger Nani sparred with Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, firing a shot which the Pole saved easily in the third minute, and following up with two less convincing efforts over the half.

Keepers on top
Poland, meanwhile, deployed French-born attacking midfielder Ludovic Obraniak up front, but he shot wide in the 13th minute. Attacking from the right, Portugal captain and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to beat an alert Szczesny in the 38th minute, as he punched the ball clear and then saved the corner with ease.

There was heartache for Lewandowski's striking understudy Ireneusz Jelen a minute before half-time as he powered towards what seemed an open goal before being put off stride as Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio plunged into his path. In stoppage time, Nani shot wide.

The second half saw the hosts up the pace, with Obraniak latching onto a cross from Lukasz Piszczek but firing over the bar in the 48th minute, before beating a string of defenders three minutes later only to see Patricio save his shot.

A flurry of substitutions failed to inject sufficient energy into the game, until Poland brought on Adrian Mierzejewski ten minutes from time. Five minutes later the home crowd held their breath as he crossed to fellow substitute Slawomir Peszko, only to see the latter's strike saved.

Mierzejewski, of Turkey's Trabzonspor, attacked again a minute later and then, after winning a free-kick, beat the Portuguese wall but it was saved easily by Patricio.