Bayern-bound Lewandowski remains Europe's most wanted despite difficult night in Poland defeat at Wembley

By Rob Draper

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Robert Lewandowski’s moment came on 23 minutes. It was one of those scenarios about which first-class professional footballers dream: a superb counter attack, a clever dummy from a colleague and a clear sight of goal inside the penalty area at Wembley Stadium.

Europe’s most-wanted centre forward sized up his chance, steadied his gait and struck: an unclean shot, slicing it a faction as it came off his boot, losing power and direction. Joe Hart visibly relaxed as it ended up wide of his post.

A groan, a sigh was heard all around Wembley. For this was a home match only in name for England with around 30,000 Poles it attendance. All around the stadium, not just in the area reserved for them, Polish fans were ready to celebrate.

VIDEO Scroll down to watch Tunnelcam: Lewandoski and Polish team-mates

Danger: Lewandowski creates space and fires in a shot as Michael Carrick challenges him

Danger: Lewandowski creates space and fires in a shot as Michael Carrick challenges him

Relief: England keeper Joe Hart watches on as Lewandowski's effort goes past the post

Relief: England keeper Joe Hart watches on as Lewandowski's effort goes past the post

It was not to be. One moment can never define a striker and yet it was instructive. Had he scored - and he certainly should have - the game would have changed utterly. Wembley would have been alive with celebrating Poles, flares would have been lit and England may well have been cowed into submission.

Certainly, the scintillating spell of football that followed in the twenty minutes thereafter from England is unlikely to have come to pass. Poland, 1-0 up, would surely have retreated into defensive shape and frustrated at every turn.

Top strikers change the narrative of a football match: the bigger the match, the more likely they are to prove decisive. Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are of course the benchmarks by which all must measure themselves these days, though no-one can reasonably compare.

Hold up: Poland's main man shields the ball from England skipper Steven Gerrard

Hold up: Poland's main man shields the ball from England skipper Steven Gerrard

Handful: Three Lions defender Gary Cahill chases down the Borussia Dortmund forward

Handful: Three Lions defender Gary Cahill chases down the Borussia Dortmund forward

Crowded out: England players surround Lewandowski as he attempts an effort at goal

Crowded out: England players surround Lewandowski as he attempts an effort at goal

Still, Lewandowski is one of Europe’s best, his contract up in the summer and Bayern Munich beckons. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea have all enquired as to his availability. You expected better.

He has all the attributes required for greatness. He holds the ball like few can in that position, the lone striker being one of the hardest roles to play in the game. He willingly pulls away into wide areas when necessary to stretch the back four, testing out Chris Smalling for long periods of the second half.

Unhappy memories: Lewandowski last played at Wembley in Dortmund's Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich in May

Unhappy memories: Lewandowski last played at Wembley in Dortmund's Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich in May

Interest: Jose Mourinho sent texts to Lewandowski after Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final defeat to Dortmund last season

Interest: Jose Mourinho sent texts to Lewandowski after Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final defeat to Dortmund last season

His lean muscular frame could be made for the perfect ratio of power and efficiency and his long legs accelerate into the speed of his an 800m runner, given the chance. The run on nine minutes to turn an England corner into a Poland attack was astonishing, mainly because of the space England afforded him.

Still, it showed him at his best, picking the ball up on the edge of his own area and simply driving onwards to the opposite penalty area a matter of seconds to unleash his shot.

Again, on 60 minutes he was put through for a harder chance, having to rebalance quickly and strike as Hart approached rapidly from his goal. The shot was cleaner this time but Hart was excellent, closing space and standing strong to parry away.

Listen up: Lewandowski has been more prolific for Dortmund than Poland

Listen up: Lewandowski has been more prolific for Dortmund than Poland

Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski

Preparation: Lewandowski training at Wembley ahead of Poland's 2-0 defeat to England

Preparation: Lewandowski training at Wembley ahead of Poland's 2-0 defeat to England

Starting out: Lewandowski played for Lech Poznan before signing for Dortmund in 2010

Starting out: Lewandowski played for Lech Poznan before signing for Dortmund in 2010

In a global game where strikers such as Lewandowski are at such a premium, small wonder there is such a clamour for his services.

He is already at one of the continent’s leading clubs in Borussia Dortmund. He was been totemic in their renaissance: the Bundesliga win of 2011, the Double win of 2012, the run to the Champions League final in 2013. But he has never inspired a Poland team, dotted with good players, to greater heights. And there will be no World Cup at which to shine.

Most informed sources at those clubs believe there is no chance of enticing away from Bavaria this summer and Lewandowski, furious that Dortmund would not allow him to leave this summer, is unlikely to indulge the club by agreeing to a January transfer.

He is destined for greatness of sorts. He has earned his move, proved his quality. Yet, he is now 25, coming into the peak of his powers. There is still another step to be taken to become a great player. Bayern must believe he can take it; all we can say for sure is that last night he missed an opportunity to take a step down that path.

Married: Lewandowski's wife Anna won bronze at the karate World Cup in 2009

Married: Lewandowski's wife Anna won bronze at the karate World Cup in 2009

Goal hero: Lewandowski slides on his knees having scored four goals in one game against Real Madrid last season

Goal hero: Lewandowski celebrates having scored four times in one game against Real Madrid last season

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

This guy isn't anywhere near as good as he's being made out to be. One game wonder.

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doesn't look top quality to me and I should know

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Europe's most wanted DM ? This week or this day or this minute? Ah, thought so, just this 'story' - another agent with a close relationship eh ?

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Lewandowski is the most exciting player with the ball since Zidane.

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Lewandowski is the most exciting player when he touches the ball since Zidane.

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Has nothing to prove - his goal scoring stats in the CL is good. Any top big club would want to sign him.

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Not the player he was last season, he's had enough games already to reproduce same form as well. Suspect he'll end up like F.Macheda did at Salford Reds (Yew Nited)' although time will tell. In other words, whilst he plays in a different position, quality wise flattered to deceive (early in career). Must say though that he will potentially prove to have been a lucky escape for the (apparently) interested English clubs from last season, largely thanks to BVB's overrated HIGH xfer fee demanded for his services. As a City fan, all I can say is thank god we've got Negrado, Aguero, as well as Jovetic & Dzeko backing them up.

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Give Wenger a call Robert, heard he speaks a bit of German!

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I thought Guardiola was having second thoughts and several top European clubs had been alerted, as reported in many outlets...

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Robert Lewandowski has admitted to being tapped up by Man Utd when he said he had a ''meeting with Alex Ferguson''. Not surprised at all, even Jaap Stam admitted that Alex Ferguson made an illegal approach to sign him. What a disgrace Ferguson was.

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Jose Mourinho sent texts to Lewandowski after Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final defeat to Dortmund last season. yet you only see fit to mention united? obssessed is without a doubt what you are.

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manutd.well done lad its about time a fanbase of not like united be made,its not u alone,i don't like them as well...all haile jose

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