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Beefed-up Poles edge Slovakia in Euro warm-up

26 May 2012 18:47:05

Beefed-up Poles edge Slovakia in Euro warm-up

French-born Damien Perquis scored his first goal for Poland on Saturday as the beefed-up Euro 2012 hosts beat Slovakia 1-0 during a pre-tournament friendly.

Perquis blasted a header past Slovakia and Dundee United keeper Dusan Pernis in the 30th minute.

The Poles harried their opponents' defence in both halves, with a string of strikes either saved by Pernis or shot wide.

Slovakia had few chances to level the score, though their captain, Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik, forced Poland and Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny into a lunging save minutes from half time.

"I've proved that I'm part of this team," said 28-year-old Sochaux defender Perquis, who like a handful of other players with foreign ties has faced repeated criticism from Polish nationalists since winning his first cap last September.

Eligible for Polish nationality due to family roots, Perquis was allowed under FIFA rules to don a Poland shirt because he had never played beyond under-21 level for France.

Perquis has said he will answer his adversaries on the pitch, where he is highly rated by team-mates, notably Szczesny who sings his praises.

Szczesny was among a string of Poland stars in action against Slovakia, with manager Franciszek Smuda also opting to play his Borussia Dortmund trio of striker Robert Lewandowski, midfielder Kuba Blaszczykowski and defender Lukasz Piszczek.

On Tuesday, when Poland beat Euro 2012 non-qualifiers Latvia 1-0 in a friendly in Klagenfurt, Smuda chose to rest his big names who had just wrapped up their club seasons and deploy a handful of understudies.

They included Szczesny's club and country substitute Lukasz Fabianski, whose hopes for a role at Euro 2012 were dashed on Saturday when it was announced that a shoulder injury will keep him out of the squad.

With the stars absent, Hannover striker Artur Sobiech on Tuesday had marked his first appearance since 2010 with his debut international goal.

But despite their back to back friendly wins, Poland will have their work cut out at the tournament proper, with resilient opponents Greece, the Czech Republic and Russia in their group.

Having failed to reach the 2010 World Cup, and with an automatic hosts' berth at Euro 2012, Poland will have gone 968 days without a competitive match by the time they kick off the tournament, hosted with neighbouring Ukraine, on June 8 in Warsaw.

Slovakia made it to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup but suffered a dip in form that saw them fail to qualify for Euro 2012.


AFP

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