June 9, 2008 / 9:08 AM / 12 years ago

Poland rue failure to break German stranglehold

KLAGENFURT (Reuters) - Poland coach Leo Beenhakker surveyed yet another failed attempt to beat their perennial nemesis Germany at Euro 2008 and blamed a marginal offside decision against them for “killing” his team.

Poland's coach Leo Beenhakker reacts during their Group B Euro 2008 football match against Germany at the Woerthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, June 8, 2008. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

Sunday’s Group B 2-0 victory for Germany, who have never lost to their neighbours, hinged to a large extent on Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo deciding that Lukas Podolski’s opening goal should stand despite Polish claims of offside.

Ovrebo then made the reverse decision, similarly marginal, denying striker Ebi Smolarek an equaliser just after the hour.

Podolski, who was born in Poland, went on to rub salt into the wounds with his 72nd minute second.

Beenhakker said the fact the first goal may have been marginally offside was “killing” for his team as it continued to weigh heavily on their minds long afterwards.

“If you have doubts about the goal then you feel it as a team and you take a bit of time to get over this moment and start again,” he said.

LARGELY MATCHED

However, he praised their efforts for having largely matched their opponents for 72 minutes of the game.

“We are still in the tournament. You only have three or four days to recover, you have to do this in a physical and a mental way,” Beenhakker said.

“Of course, everyone is a little bit upset now ... but they will start to build up again ... and they will be ready again.”

Poland will play Austria in Vienna on Thursday.

“We simply have to go out now and win our last two games,” said Smolarek.

“We have to play Austria next and we must win that game if we are to have any chance and then we also have to beat Croatia and that won’t be easy.”

Germany now top Group B on goal difference, followed by Croatia, who beat Austria 1-0 earlier in Vienna.

Smolarek admired the strength of the Germans.

“Germany are now one of the favourites to win the tournament and we showed in this game that they are a very tough team to play against.”

Editing by Jon Bramley

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