Stefan Tarkovic praised his Slovakia side for their efforts in “neutralising” Robert Lewandowski during a shock 2-1 Euro 2020 win over Poland.
Slovakia claimed only their second European Championship victory as an independent nation thanks to Milan Skriniar’s 69th-minute winner in St Petersburg on Monday.
An own goal from Wojciech Szczesny, which followed great work from Robert Mak, gave Slovakia a first-half lead that was cancelled out 32 seconds into the second half by Karol Linetty.
But Grzegorz Krychowiak’s red card turned the game back in Slovakia’s favour and Skriniar’s third goal in his last four games for Slovakia secured the three points.
Key to Slovakia’s success was Lewandowski’s lack of influence. He had the fewest touches of any Poland outfield player in the first half (22) and finished with 39. None of his five shots hit the target, meaning he has still not scored in a major tournament since Euro 2016.
Asked about how they shut down a striker who broke Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga record with 41 goals in the 2020-21 season, Tarkovic told a media conference: “I think the whole team played very well, we prepared for Poland’s attack very responsibly and of course Lewandowski plays a decisive role in the final third.
“Skriniar did not personally mark Lewandowski, but the duels with him and other players such as Peter Pekarik and Lubomir Satka, I’m really happy they managed to neutralise such a great player as Lewandowski.
“After this win, there will be even more pressure to make it from the group. For me it wasn’t really about the result, it was about showing what we are capable of. We will enjoy this win but tomorrow we are starting to prepare for Sweden.
“This means a lot for me, I think it means a lot for all the people that have prepared together with us, the coaching staff, everyone around the team.
“We spent three weeks together and we had time to focus on the things we wanted to concentrate on. There are still two difficult games for us but what’s really good is that the co-operation is working and the players want to show the country of Slovakia and the fans that they want to fight for Slovakia.”
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