Lewandowski in explosive form after being felled

Poland captain Robert Lewandowski lies on the pitch in Bucharest after a firecracker thrown by Romanian supporters exploded about a metre away from him during the World Cup qualifier on Friday. After receiving medical treatment, he was cleared to con
Poland captain Robert Lewandowski lies on the pitch in Bucharest after a firecracker thrown by Romanian supporters exploded about a metre away from him during the World Cup qualifier on Friday. After receiving medical treatment, he was cleared to continue and scored twice in the 3-0 win against Romania.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BUCHAREST • Poland striker Robert Lewandowski was felled by a firecracker thrown from the crowd in a stormy World Cup qualifier on Friday.

But he had the last laugh, scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Romania.

Romanian fans at the National Arena in Bucharest threw the firecracker at the striker in the 53rd minute.

It exploded about a metre away from Lewandowski, who grabbed his face as he fell.

He needed medical treatment while Slovenian referee Damir Skomina gathered the players from both sides inside the penalty area.

After a 10-minute delay, Lewandowski was found to be unhurt and free to continue and he sealed Poland's 3-0 victory with two late goals - after 84 minutes and a last-gasp penalty.

After the game, the Bayern Munich striker saw the lighter side of the incident and posted a simple tweet of an emoji of a monkey holding its ears.

Earlier, Kamil Grosicki had scored a brilliant solo goal for Poland.

The midfielder collected the ball in the centre circle in the 11th minute of the game, weaved his way past five Romanian defenders and gave the goalkeeper, Ciprian Tatarusanu, no chance with a powerful shot for his ninth international goal.

Throughout the game, on the terraces, fans from both countries launched flares at one another and clashed, despite the presence of around 4,000 policemen who were mobilised for the high-risk game.

One flare, thrown immediately after kick-off, reportedly burnt a part of the goal net.

Other flares thrown by home fans landed on the pitch, causing a delay just before half-time.

Twelve Polish fans had already been arrested before the game after fighting in a city centre bar and following clashes with police outside the stadium.

Unbeaten Poland lead Group E with a total of 10 points from four matches, followed by Montenegro on seven.

Montenegro suffered their first defeat in the group, squandering a two-goal lead to lose 2-3 in Armenia.

Romania, who lost for the first time under their German coach, Christoph Daum, are fourth in the standings with five points.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Lewandowski in explosive form after being felled'. Print Edition | Subscribe