Substitutes Jakub Kamiński and Karol Świderski ensured that Poland got off to a positive start in UEFA Nations League Group A4.
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Jonny Williams fired under-strength Wales into an unexpected lead in UEFA Nations League Group A4, but Poland's substitutes turned the tide in the closing stages.
52' Jonny Williams fires Wales ahead
72' Jakub Kamiński gets his first Poland goal
85' Karol Świderski scavenges the winner
Match in brief: Polish bench defeats Wales
With Sunday’s FIFA World Cup play-off in mind, Wales boss Rob Page chose to rest most of his first-choice players – not least Gareth Bale. Piotr Zieliński and Robert Lewandowski had first-half chances, but Wales performed admirably and took a shock lead after making three half-time substitutions, Jonny Williams' angled shot dipping and swerving as it flew past debutant goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.
Poland sprung to life after making some substitutions of their own, Tymoteusz Puchacz's ball in from the right finding Jakub Kamiński, and the 19-year-old steadying himself before threading the ball inside the far post. Another replacement, Karol Świderski, then hit the winner, clipping a shot past substitute goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey from close range after a blocked Lewandowski shop looped up into his path.
Piotr Kozmiński, match reporter
Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz said before the game that he wanted to try some new players AND get good results in the UEFA Nations League. It worked out pretty well for him, with Jakub Kamiński scoring his first goal in what was his second international game and goalkeeper Kamil Grabara making a solid debut. Wales, though, can be proud of the way their fringe players acquitted themselves, though the World Cup play-off final is very much their priority.
Czesław Michniewicz, Poland coach: "We started well but also had some difficulties in the first half. We created some chances and I think we should have scored before half-time. The second half started the worst possible way for us with Wales scoring, but we managed to turn things around. I brought on Jakub Kamiński and Nicola Zalewski since they are good dribblers and that helped us. Kamiński scored a typical goal for him, like he scored last season in the Polish Ekstraklasa."
Robert Lewandowski, Poland forward: "After this game it is clear we must improve our level of creativity, especially in midfield. I barely had a chance inside the penalty area: we did not create enough. The chances that came my way I made for myself. Definitely, that's something we have to work on."
Kamil Grabara, Poland goalkeeper: "I think I had a decent game, but I should have responded better in the situation when we conceded the goal. Playing for the national team was a dream come true."
Rob Page, Wales coach: "We had our plan for this game, but we played against a very good team. Poland fielded their best squad and we had Sunday's game in sight, which is hugely important for us. Despite the defeat, there are plenty of positive things we can take from this game."
- Poland remain unbeaten in four games under new coach Czesław Michniewicz.
- Świderski's effort was his fifth goal in his last seven appearance for Poland.
- Jakub Kamiński, 19, scored his first Poland goal in what was his second senior international appearance.
- Poland are now unbeaten in eight international matches against Wales (W6 D2); Wales' only win against Poland was a 2-0 victory in a World Cup qualifier in March 1973.
- Poland have lost only one of their last nine internationals (W7 D2).
- Defeat ended a nine-game unbeaten run for Wales (W4 D5); it also ended a six-match unbeaten run in this competition (W5 D1).
- Wales had not conceded in their previous four Nations League away games.
Poland: Grabara; Bereszyński, Glik, Bednarek, Puchacz (Zalewski 73); Klich (Żurkowski 60), Krychowiak (Grosicki 81), ZIeliński, Góralski (Kamiński 60); Lewandowski, Buksa (Świderski 73)
Wales: Ward (Hennessey 46); Gunter, Mepham, Norrington-Davies; Levitt, Morrell, Smith, Burns (N Williams 61), J Williams (Thomas 77); Moore (Harris 46), James (Matondo 46)
What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?
The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023, with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June.
The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.