Soccer-Stopping Lewandowski was a team effort, Slovakia coach says

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - International Friendly - Poland v Iceland - INEA Stadion, Poznan, Poland - June 8, 2021 Poland's Robert Lewandowski REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Slovakia executed sound defensive plans to stop the threat of Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, coach Stefan Tarkovic said after his team won their opening Euro 2020 Group E match 2-1 on Monday.

Tarkovic said Slovakia had tried to stifle Poland's left-side attack, using midfielder Lukas Haraslin and defender Peter Pekarik as extra cover.

"That was our intention," he said.

Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar capped Slovakia's win with a fierce low shot shortly after Poland were reduced to 10 men in the second half.

Skriniar, fresh from winning the Serie A title with Inter Milan, also had responsibility for shackling Lewandowski who scored a record 41 Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich last season.

"Milan Skriniar put in a great performance today. But I think the whole team played very well," Tarkovic said, adding that Pekarik and Lubomir Satka also restricted the influence of the prolific Lewandowski who had only five attempts at goal.

"I am really happy they managed to neutralise a great player like Lewandowski," the coach added.

Lewandowski's big-stage goal drought continued as he has now scored once in his last 11 European Championship and World Cup games while Poland stretched their poor record in opening matches at major tournaments to one win in their last 10.

Tarkovic, leading Slovakia in only their second European Championship, said the team would celebrate the win but had two tough matches ahead against Sweden and Spain.

"For me, it wasn't really important the result of the match today but being able to show the players are able to play a very top-quality match," he said.

"We obviously want to enjoy this win but tomorrow we start preparing for Sweden."

(Writing by Jason Hovet in Prague, editing by Ed Osmond)

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