Retroscarf - Scotland v Poland
Next Thursday, we should be looking forward to a World Cup playoff Semi Final.
Understandably, Ukraine have other things on their mind and we will, hopefully, look forward to welcoming them to Hampden in June.
In the meantime, we welcome Poland to the National Stadium for only the fifth time. A friendly match is not what either side were hoping for, though the Poles do have a playoff final to look forward to against Sweden or Czech Republic five days later, but for both sides it’s a chance to show solidarity to our war stricken friends in Ukraine and prepare for bigger tests to come.
Remarkably, Scotland are chasing their first victory over Poland on home soil. Here’s how the previous four encounters turned out.
4 May 1960: Scotland 2-3 Poland, friendly
The first of two Hampden clashes in the sixties served up a five goal classic. Krzysztof Baszkiewicz opened the scoring before Denis Law levelled things up midway through the first half.
Five minutes later, Lucjan Brychczy restored Poland’s lead, which they kept until half time. Two minutes after the restart, Ian St John equalised for Scotland but Ernest Pohl struck on the hour mark to give the Poles victory.
13 October 1965: Scotland 1-2 Poland, World Cup ’66 qualifier
A crowd in excess of 100,000 crammed onto the terraces at the National Stadium in anticipation that Scotland could take a huge step towards qualification for the World Cup in England. Billy McNeill pounced on a goalkeeping error to put the home side in front on 13 minutes, and were looking good for victory going into the closing moments.
However, Pohl equalised with five minutes remaining, and the Scots were dealt a double blow when Jerzy Sadek made room at the edge of the area before firing past Bill Brown to give Poland victory. Neither side would make it to the World Cup Finals as Italy won the group.
19 May 1990: Scotland 1-1 Poland, friendly
It was billed as the farewell match before Scotland jetted off to Italia ’90, and Scotland were seeking a morale boosting victory against a Polish side staying at home whilst we went to the World Cup.
Mo Johnston headed home from an Ally McCoist cross two minutes from half time to give Scotland the lead. Poland then levelled things up on 59 minutes when Gary Gillespie attempted to deal with a hopeful long ball, but inexplicably lobbed it over Andy Goram and the ball dipped underneath the cross bar for one of the most bizarre own goals in the Mens National Team’s history. Scotland’s bad luck would continue in Italy a few weeks later of course.
8 October 2015: Scotland 2-2 Poland, Euro 2016 qualifier
Scotland went into this game knowing it was last chance saloon for their hopes of reaching the Euros in France, especially after a dismal result in Georgia the previous month.
Things did not start well when Robert Lewandowski scored after just three minutes, and the Poles bossed most of the first half. An unexpected lifeline was provided right on half time when Matt Ritchie conjured up by far his best moment in a Scotland shirt with a beautifully curled left foot shot into the top corner to bring Scotland level.
On 62 minutes, things got even better when Steven Fletcher curled home a fine first time effort past Fabianski to put Scotland in front and gave us hope that a playoff place was in reach again.
However, news of Shane Long’s goal to give Ireland an unexpected lead over World Champions Germany stunned Hampden into silence, and our misery was compounded when Lewandowski scrambled home a last minute equaliser to give the Poles a share of the spoils. Poland and Ireland went to France, whilst Scotland were cursing their luck yet again.