Robert Lewandowski has not allowed his future uncertainty to distract him after he found the back of the net in Poland’s 6-1 Nations League defeat to Belgium, becoming the third-most prolific European player in international history in the process.
The Pole has been attempting to engineer an escape hatch from Bayern Munich in a come-and-get-me plea to Barcelona, recently stating “it is time for a new stage”, and while there is certainly a long way to go before Lewandowski’s future becomes clear, he has not let his off-field issues affect his on-field form.
Up against Belgium in Group A4 of the Nations League, Lewandowski broke the deadlock after some wonderful build-up play from Czeslaw Michniewicz’s men, with Piotr Zielinski skipping forward with the ball before teeing up Sebastian Szymanski, whose first-time touch found the Bayern marksman.
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Ever-clinical in the box, Lewandowski dispatched in trademark fashion to give Poland a 1-0 lead. Roberto Martinez’s side ultimately rallied and produced a comeback triumph through goals from Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Leandro Trossard (twice), Leander Dendoncker and Lois Openda — but Lewandowski walked away with history made.
His finish on the 28th minute was the 76th of his Poland career, becoming the third-most prolific European in international history, and quite fittingly, overtaking a former Barcelona forward in the process. Prior to this showdown at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, the 33-year-old sat level with Hungary and Barca legend Sandor Kocsis, but he has now moved one clear of the ex-striker.
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It means Lewandowski now sits just one below the top 10 in the all-time international tally, which is currently being occupied by Brazilian immortal Pele, while only Ferenc Puskas (84 goals) and Cristiano Ronaldo (117 goals) are ahead of him for European players.
Make no mistake, Poland endured an absolute hammering away from home as they drop to third in the Group A4 table, but Lewandowski leaves with his reputation and legacy only enhanced, a strange outcome for any player walking away from a five-goal deficit.
Real Madrid can lay claim to boasting the two most prolific international Europeans as part of their legendary alumni in Ronaldo and Puskas; Barca no longer have the third in Kocsis. Unless, of course, Lewandowski joins them. It’s going to be an interesting summer.