Poland's Nawalka and Krychowiak hail team spirit after victory in Euro 2016 opener

Both the manager and the man of the match were full of praise for the Poles' collective effort as they beat Northern Ireland 1-0.

Poland's Nawalka and Krychowiak hail team spirit after victory in Euro 2016 opener
The fact that Grzegorz Krychowiak picked up the man of the match performance typified how hard-working Poland's display was. (Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Poland coach Adam Nawalka praised his team's 'collective' spirit as Arkadiusz Milik's goal gave them their first ever victory at the European Championships.

A team effort

Despite some standout performances from Milik and youngster Bartosz Kapustka, manager Nawalka was keen to say that the entire team were the reason for their victory over Northern Ireland, due to a collective effort.

Poland found themselves frustrated against Michael O'Neill's team as they effectively parked the bus in the first half. However, they broke through early in the second half courtesy of Ajax striker Milik's fine finish. After that, they were prepared to settle for what they had and they did so comfortably by keeping the ball well and remaining compact at the back against an opponent which offered very little going forward.

When asked about individual performances, Nawalka told UEFA: "I want to praise all of the players - I must stress that. We're a team, a collective."

Talking about the perhaps risky inclusion of 19-year-old Kapustka on the left wing, due to injury to Kamil Grosicki, he responded: "He is a great talent, with a lot of potential. I wasn't worried."

Although clearly delighted with the opening win, Nawalka was keen to play down how far his team could go, as he concluded: "I don't want to over analyse whether we're a dark horse. We want to focus on the next match. The result doesn't change our plans against Germany."

Adam Nawalka applauds his side's efforts from the dugout as they beat Northern Ireland 1-0. (Photo: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Adam Nawalka applauds his side's efforts from the dugout in their 1-0 win over Northern Ireland. (Photo: Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

Man of the match calls for calm

Perhaps controversially, it was holding midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak who picked up the man of the match award in Nice as Poland ran out 1-0 winners in the Riviera.

He, like his manager, was keen to play down individual performances though and praised his teammates as he said: "The whole team should collect this man of the match award. We're only here thanks to them."

The Sevilla man added: "We knew that the first match is always very difficult, we were prepared for that. We can do a lot, but we shouldn't be overly optimistic having won the first match."

When asked if Poland could win the tournament, however, he said: "I'm not hiding the fact we want to."

Poland will now make the long trip north to Paris, where they will take on Germany in a potential group decider at the Stade De France on Thursday, with both teams having won their opening games.

It's a game they won't be fearful of, however, having beaten Germany in qualifying.