KEIR RADNEDGE in NICE: Poland finally secured their first victory in the finals of the European Championship albeit only by a single goal against a Northern Ireland side who made them work hard for a little piece of national football history.
Their hopes of turning the tide, after a poor showing as co-hosts with Ukraine four years ago, rested firmly on the shoulders of Bayern Munich top scorer Robert Lewandowski. But in fact it was Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax Amsterdam who made the difference with a 51st-minute strike.
Poland had other chances but never a floodtide and the dogged Irish packed their penalty area with green shirts whenever they came under pressure.
On the halfhour Grzegorz Krychowiak sailed down the right and Milik sidestepped the Irish defence before shoting wastefully over the bar. Then the lively 19-year-old Bartosz Kapustka demonstrated neat control of his own before unleashing a powerful shot which keeper Michael McGovern turned over the bar.
Northern Ireland reached the interval slowly but that interruption to concentration proved fatal.
Six minutes after the restart Jakub Blaszczykowski cut down the right and squred and this time Milik took all the time he needed to stride forward, tall aim and fire home.
Purther Polish chances fell to Milik and Krychowiak again but the Irish never managed to even test Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny.