Black Thursday Nightmare for Polish Football Clubs in Europa League

All three Polish League clubs in the UEFA Europa League bombed at home in the first leg of the third round of qualifying on Thursday 29 July, including Krakow’s second place finishers Wisła Krakow.

Ruch Chorzów, Wisła Krakow, and Jagiellonia Białystok all played host to and were defeated by foreign clubs, each of them making a dismal case for advancement, although Ruch Chorzów showed early promise when Michał Pulkowski scored against Austria Wien on the fourth minute. The most horrid of the three showings was that of Wisła Krakow, who have been in a tailspin since late 2009. The Polish vice-champions performed disastrously in front of their own supporters at Nowa Huta’s Suche Stawy stadium, losing to the top Azerbaijani club, Qarabag, 0:1.

The Wisła on the field featured six new players signed since the end of the season. They were offensively impotent throughout the first half, but had opportunities to tie the match in the second half after Qarabag went ahead in the 69th minute, but new Wisła defender Bunoza was sent off with a red card in the 83rd minute. The final minutes of the game saw Wisła squander a golden opportunity when a foul on Patryk Małecki landed the Krakow club a penalty shot, which was missed by Maciej Zurawski.

It was the seventh meeting between Azerbaijani and Polish clubs; the former hosts of Suche Stawe, the now defunct Hutnik, beat an Azerbaijan club 9:0, and Widzew won against another 8:0 in the 1990s. In the meantime, however, the central Asian nation’s league has shown marked progress thanks to energy revenues. Lech Poznań, the 2010 Polish champions, also lost in the Champion’s League 1:0 against Sparta Prague on 27 July, while they outshot Sparta six to two in the first half, then went on to lose on a late goal from defender Erich Brabec.

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