Lewandowski helps send Poland to Qatar with ‘most difficult’ penalty

Soccer Football — World Cup — UEFA Qualifiers — Path B Playoff Final — Poland v Sweden — Silesian Stadium, Chorzow, Poland — March 29, 2022 Poland’s Robert Lewandowski shoots at goal REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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CHORZOW, Poland, March 29 (Reuters) — Poland captain Robert Lewandowski said his penalty in their 2-0 playoff victory over Sweden on Tuesday was one of the most difficult of his career as World Cup qualification was on the line.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski and Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski fired second-half goals as Poland beat Sweden in a competitive fixture for the first time since the 1974 World Cup to book a spot at the event in Qatar.

«I said during the news conference that it was time (for us) to win and that we’d do it. So we did,» Lewandowski joked while speaking to Polish TV.

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«It was one of, if not the most difficult penalty in my life … (I knew) the weight of those seconds before I ran up to the ball.

«Of course I wanted to focus on execution, but I was realising what was at stake in this game, what was at stake in that penalty. It was one of the emotionally tougher penalties of my career, definitely.»

Poland, who battled to contain an attacking Sweden side in the first half, were also indebted to Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny who pulled off a string of fine saves.

«We came out for the second half with some nice energy and (that’s when) I started to believe that we could win this match,» Szczesny said.

«The Swedes gifted us both goals a little bit. A penalty out of nothing, then they lost the ball. But you have to take advantage of such situations.

«The margin for error in such matches is very small, and today they allowed themselves two mistakes and paid for them.»

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Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk
Editing by Toby Davis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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