KEIR RADNEDGE in MARSEILLE: Poland coach Adam Nawalka, however disappointed he was feeling, put a brave, positive face on his team’s shootout defeat by Portugal in the Euro 2016 quarter-final.
Poland lost 5-3 on spot-kicks following a 1-1 extra-time draw after Jakub Blaszczykowski had their fourth kick saved by Portugal keeper Rui Patricio.
Defeat was all the more disappointing in that Poland had a place in the semi-finals at their mercy after Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring inside the first two minutes. A slight deflection of midfieldr Grzegorz Krychowiak contributed to Portugal’s first-half equaliser by Renato Sanches.
After that Portugal domination possession but failed to breach Poland’s well-organised defence.
Nawalka said: “To lose on penalties was a great disappointment for us. The players put a lot of heart into it. They deserve praise for this match and the whole tournament.
“But there was some optimistic signs: We didn’t lose a match; we were knocked out only on penalties; we had our chances; and we brought a lot of joy to our fans. We’re sad now but that’s normal. We can be happy with what we have achieved. The players did an amazing job. We can take away far more positives than negatives.”
Nawalka had particular praise the all-round contribition of centre-forward Ribert Lewandowski even though the Bayern Munich centre-forward left his shooting boots in Bavaria and scored only once on the finals.
“Robert Lewandowski is someone I can only praise,” said Nawalka. “This tournament as a team was very good and also for him. He is an integral part of this team. I am very happy with the way he acted and behaved.”
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