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    Wednesday, March 30, 2022

    Lewandowski and Zielinski Fire Poland to Qatar

    Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski fired in second-half goals as Poland booked their place at the World Cup finals in Qatar with a 2-0 win over Sweden in an electrifying playoff tie.

    Poland battled to contain a Sweden side bristling with youthful attacking vigour, but in the end they capitalised on the visitors’ mistakes thanks to the experience of Lewandowski and his teammates.

    After surviving a shaky opening, Sweden quickly grew into the game and Emil Forsberg should have given them the lead, but Wojciech Szczesny pulled off the first of a string of fine saves to turn the ball behind for a corner in the 19th minute.

    The home side also struggled with Dejan Kulusevski, the winger twice going close before the game turned on a clumsy mistake by Jesper Karlström. The Sweden midfielder mistimed a challenge in the box early in the second half and ended up bundling the Poland substitute Grzegorz Krychowiak to the ground, with referee Daniele Orsato immediately pointing to the spot.

    Up stepped Poland captain Lewandowski and he sent Robin Olsen the wrong way before confidently striking his low spot-kick into the net for his 75th international goal.

    Sweden threw caution to the wind and poured forward, with Szczesny getting down smartly to deny Forsberg again, before Victor Lindelöf sent the resulting corner fractionally wide with a glancing header.

    Just as Sweden looked to be on the verge of scoring, a mix-up between Kristoffer Olsson and Marcus Danielson allowed Zielinski to score as he curled the ball into the net at the near post in the 73rd minute.

    The Swedes brought their record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the bench for the final 10 minutes but the Polish defence held firm in front of a capacity crowd to book their spot in the World Cup finals.

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